In the Pardoner’s footprints

Work has just arranged for us employees to offset our carbon footprints by making a donation to an eco-charity through our pay. So that’s ok then.

There’s a pause while Aphra whomps up the central heating, opens all the windows, turns on all the lights and drives into town to book an entirely gratuitous holiday abroad.

Queing for Water in GloucestershireI have, of course, bought my freedom from green-guilt. When the crops fail and the seas boil and we all die nasty, violent, hungry deaths fighting over the last lollo rosso in Sainsburys, it won’t be MY fault, ok? Think I’m exaggerating? The picture on the right shows people queueing outside Asda in Tewkesbury for their six allocated bottles of water in Gloucestershire this summer.

The New Orleans Superdome - Katrina Amartya Sen postulated that there has never been a famine in a democracy. The benefit of democracy is not about choosing which bunch of power-crazed loons will ruin our lives and the planet next, it’s about holding the bastards accountable. That’s the reason it’s important to vote. It’s cheap of me to compare the 2007 floods in the UK with Katrina, and cynical of me to suggest that if terrorists had bombed the levees then the good ole southern boys of the Bush government would have done something about New Orleans, but no matter how generous I try to be, I cannot help thinking that the US Government simply didn’t care because the people were black and few of them were voters. This is all at something of tangent to what I am saying here, but Katrina in one way and the 2007 UK floods in another are still rich with examples of the double-think involved in climate-change denial.

And here’s a third. The democrats are guilty too. It’s estimated that the carbon footprint for Live8 was 31,500 tonnes, with Madonna’s annual carbon footprint estimated at 1017 tonnes. But of course, it wasn’t about the fame and the exposure, it was about saving the planet, right?

The PardonerOne of the drivers for protestantism was Luther’s disgust with the way that the Catholic Church sold “indulgences” and “pardons” for cash, making no attempt to actually change people’s behaviour. Even in those days virtue was unprofitable but guilt was gilt. But of course, only virtue is virtue, and we are kidding ourselves if we think that off-sets and rock concerts will save the planet.

And so, even though it makes me feel dirty, even though it feels like blood money, even though the double-think hurts my brain, I’ve duly calculated my carbon footprint, worked out the monthly sum, and signed the standing order that means that none of it’s my fault, ok.

(For what it’s worth, my direct footprint is somewhere between 6 and 8 tonnes depending on which calculator I use, though there’s a secondary footprint for the goods I buy and the services I use which I haven’t even tried to work out).

4 responses to “In the Pardoner’s footprints

  1. These modern time “letters of pardon”, similar to those sold by the medevial catolic church, are pathetic and make me wanna yuk! It’s like going to confession. Do what the heck you want. Go speak to your spirital counselor. Pray and pay. Start all over again from scratch again.

    I’ve not calculated my “carbon fooprint”, and I doubt I ever will. However I don’t own a car. I walk, bike or use public transport when I go somewhere. Most foods are made from the basics and whenever possible I buy ecologically grown/raised edible things. The eggs I buy cost me half a fortune, and so do most of the veggies this time of the year.

    Finding environmentally kind food is not easy always though. What’s best – locally grown conventionally farmed or organically farmed veggies from New Zealand probablt transported across the globe via air?

    However, I think that most of us can do a lot by just reduce, reuse and recycle.

  2. I hope never to have to calculate my carbon footprint (I feel nervous just thinking about it) but like Dragonqueen have lots of lifestyle things that I hope keep it reasonable.

    However, I think it’s great that your company is asking you to think about, because it does create awareness.

    My brother runs a re-forestry programme in South Africa and once he’s got it properly up and running, I will post links for anyone who wants to do some offsetting AND job creation there.

  3. While it is laudable that the company is asking it’s employees to think green, even if it is in the form of buying carbon offset pardons, what is it doing to green up it’s act? Have you asked about that? Is it buying renewable energy, making smart decisions about heating, lighting and water use or does it do like it’s asked the workers to do and try to it’s way out?

  4. Dragonqueen, you are right about the dilemmas of being green. These days I’d assume that local’s greener, though organic applies the commercial pressure.

    Charlotte, your brother is one of my gentlemen heroes. 🙂

    Phil, there’s a lot of information it’s providing, and there are a wider range of recycling bins now than there were two years ago. It’s also going to publish the energy ratings for each of its buildings. However the offices are still too hot in the winter, if you ask me. I think it’s genuinely trying, to be honest, but finding it as hard as the rest of us to.


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