And We’re Back (With A Look At Carbon Credits!)

The last few days I’ve had to focus my blog-related-energy on moving this website to a new host. My email addresses at this domain have stopped working four times in the past three months (I get about 100 emails a day, so it’s frustrating to try and guess what I might have missed), and iPowerWeb, who had been hosting this domain, didn’t even respond to my last email (yes, I was smart enough to send it from another working email address). The switch would have happened over the last 24 hours–hopefully you all survived.

I’m now on Dreamhost, which has some neat business practices I thought you might want to know about. For one, they’re employee owned, which is positive from a social justice perspective. They also have all sorts of open source applications that can be installed automatically (including the software this blog runs on), and open source is something I’m very supportive of.

The other neat thing about Dreamhost is that they’ve purchased carbon credits to offset the emissions created by running their business (including “paper in the office, electricity for our servers, even the gas in our cars that bring us to the office“). You can verify that this site is actually “hosted green” by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the right column of this page.

The basic idea behind carbon credits (aka carbon offsets) is to either pay someone else to reduce their emissions instead of reducing your own (buying credits), or to make money by reducing your carbon emissions more than the average bear (selling credits).

This carbon trading system works best when in conjunction with a “hard cap,” resulting in a “cap and trade” system. That means that each emitter is given a maximum amount of carbon they’re allowed to emit. If they exceed their limit, they’re forced to buy credits from other emitters who have reduced below their limit. The Green Party of Canada proposes setting up a cap and trade system for what’s known as Large Final Emitters (or LFE, for eco-geeks), but you could theoretically apply this system at the individual level as well.

Of course, carbon credits are a bit controversial these days, since for the most part there isn’t yet an easy and transparent way to ensure that buying a credit for one tonne of carbon actually results in one less tonne of carbon being released into the atmosphere. That’s really important because, from a climate change standpoint, the only thing that matters is that the over-all amount of greenhouse gases getting released into the atmosphere goes down (which is also why the “intensity targets” approach of George Bush and Stephen Harper is a hoax).

In other words, the purchase of carbon credits should only be used as a last resort, after a company or individual has done everything they can to reduce their emissions in the first place. For example, instead of buying offsets for your coal-generated electricity, buy your electricity from a clean supplier instead. Instead of buying offsets for your car, get a more efficient car or, you know, stop driving as much.

Dreamhost, as far as I can tell from their website, has taken at least some of those kinds of steps, but probably not as many as they could. But hey, none of us are perfect. For now I’m filing this under “better than nothing.”

ps. Seriously though, the main point of this post is, “if you emailed me in the last two days and haven’t heard back, please try again.”

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