Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Evil Carbon Footprint

Ok heres the skinny on the carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is merely a measuring stick to judge the environmental impact of a action, nation, business etc. A measuring stick is useless unless you have a good reason to measure things. (Knowing how many kronz one thing is and how many kronz another is doesn’t help you even though both are measured in the same units. You have to have some sort of purpose or object in the measuring first.)

Carbon footprint would not exist but to serve as a coin for a tax scheme called Carbon Tax. The bigger the carbon footprint the higher the tax.

The theory behind the carbon tax is good, but a little involved. Market is a function of property laws. In fact, you can nearly say Market = property laws. A market is volutary exchange. If the property laws do not allow private property, the voluntary exchanges simply goes underground (The USSR estimated that toward the end over 90% of the GNP was coming from the black market.) Why are controlled substances expensive? The market. Demerol costs more than asprin because anyone can make or sell asprin. Heroin costs more than both because no one can make or sell it. Where property laws are weakly enforced (or as in the case of drug laws impossible to enforce in the first place) the free market cannot enter and drive down price while increasing quality.

Pollution is a problem of property law. Air and water public spaces. All public places have rules to make sure that no person exercising their rights interferes with the rights of others. Roads, for example, have speed limits. You have a right to pursue happiness anyway you want, including dramatic death in a fiery car crash. You do NOT have a right to take unwilling participants with you, so we have speed limits on the public roads.

The goal of a carbon tax is to make sure that the more one puts into the public space, the more one provides to the public funds. Companies can get out of paying the tax in cash by putting in an equal amount of carbon sinks. For instance, if coal power plant put many acres of alfalfa to seed, the alfalfa would catch as much carbon as the coal puts up, and the net pollution is zero. Since the tax is collected corporate wide, it keeps the company from running clean operations in the industrialized world at the expense of the developing world.

When the carbon footprint is applied to an individuals life instead of a massive corporation, its no longer about the tax, its become a sort of spiritual inventory.

Spiritual inventory is good and right, and there is a right time to fast, but there is also a time to feast. The balance of life is some fasting, some feasting and much simply being. Extremism is natural response to a mainstream philosophy gone awry. Mainstream turns freedom to license,and extremist crop up, some saying feast all the time, some saying fast. The key is neither. Life isn’t about feasting or fasting, those things add purpose and punctuation to existence, but meaningful existence is about being.

Everything we do has an impact on everything around us. The dirt, the air, the people we know and people we’ll never meet are all effected by not only our actions but even sometimes our thoughts. True happiness comes from neither ignoring the impact nor obsessing about it, but giving each impact the thought that it deserves. Some impacts deserve little thought and some much.

When the carbon footprint is used as spiritual inventory it helps put things in focus. Lets say you have a 99% efficient butt wiper. 99% efficient would mean that that appliance would be the most efficient product you own! But its not efficient, that single watt that it uses is a total waste because you don’t need it in the first place. The carbon footprint theory can help you see things like that.

The man who never uses the elevator to get to the 50th floor is no more and no less sick and unbalanced than the worker who never uses the stairs to go the 2nd floor. One wastes hours of his life because he doesn’t value it, the other wastes kilowatts of electricity because he doesn’t value anyone else’s life.

There is no “far enough away” everywhere is someone’s backyard. Yes, the man described was an extremist. Like all extremists he can only assess his value by looking at others and seeing how different he is. (The extremist is always doomed, by the way. If he effects society in the way he hopes, he suddenly have no value or he must become extreme to a new ideal.) But, what if all people sought balance with the same fervor. Should everyone have electricity? Absolutely, it adds greatly to quality of life. Does everyone really need 21kwh a day??? Of course not, and the earth won’t sustain energy production at those levels for more than a few years if they become global average rather than America/Euro average. Its all about balance.

I hope more people do you the carbon footprint to inventory their lives. Don’t forget that its about net effect anyway? Concerned about your carbon? You could live in misery, like a some sort of serf. Or you could plant a tree! Compost, ride a bike, drive less, etc. There are a 1000 things you can do to have a positive impact instead of a negative one. When you die, you’re carbon doesn’t add to the problem, it shows the path: a cycle. You live, you take, you receive, you give, you die, your carbon makes grass. The grass goes into the life cycle and it all keeps going.

Finally, the biblical command to “subdue the earth” isn’t about an adversarial relationship with the earth, its about a partnering with the earth so that both the earth and Man benefit. If man’t benefits at the earth’s expense, then in a 100 years or so, man won’t benefit either. (The Sahara is largely the result of gross over farming.) We can all have a pleasant way of life most of the time, but we are not entitled to constant growth or a great way of life all the time!

People go to war for many reasons, but the cause of war is always about scarcity. When the top 5% exploit rather than partner the other 95% the result has always been, is currently, and will continue to be war. If man had enough of everything, wars would still be fought, but freedom and partnership go a long way! If more people don’t start making spiritual inventories and deciding that maybe life really might be just as good without an SUV as with one, western society will collapse under the weight of the whoever the newest exploitation based society is, because they will be the ones with the fullest mines, deepest canyons (for hydropower), and richest forests. The continued growth model only benefits the most audacious resources user.


May 24, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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