Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Green Term of the Week - Carbon Guilt

Carbon Guilt - The guilt that comes from knowing that your mere existence is causing the world to be destroyed because of the carbon footprint you leave wherever you go.

Okay, so this is my definition of carbon guilt. The term is fairly new, and others would probably not define it with such sarcasm. But essentially, carbon guilt is the awareness of your negative ecological impact on the earth and feeling badly about it.

One way that people can assuage their carbon guilt is to do something called "carbon offsetting." Proponents of carbon offsetting say it's possible to calculate your carbon footprint and do things like plant trees, donate to renewable or conserving energy programs, or donate money to open space preservation. By doing these things, proponents say, you will lesson the impact that taking an airplane flight, driving a car, or simply breathing has on the earth.

Carbon offsetting is becoming big business and when making money gets involved usually manipulation of the public gets involved, too. The result of this is carbon guilt. If the company's that deal in carbon offsetting can make people feel more guilty, they can make more money. Now, it can be argued that they will also do more good for the earth, and perhaps they do, but it's the guilt part that bothers me.

You should feel guilty about eating a whole sleeve of Girl Scout cookies and telling your husband the kids ate the whole box while he was away (wait, that was me), you should feel guilty about screaming at your kids when your mad at your boss (not me, I don't have a boss), you should feel guilty about breaking laws or telling lies or cheating at games or on your taxes. 

You should not feel guilty about existing. 

Sure, we all need to take responsibility for the preservation of this earth. And if participating in some sort of carbon offsetting program is how you choose to handle your responsibility, then fine. Just make sure the program is legitimate first. But do it because it's the right thing to do, not because you were guilted into it.

So this week's green term came with a little soap box lecture. Sorry about that. Between this carbon guilt and the people who believe having children is ecologically irresponsible, I'm a little grumpy.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: