Some of you may be wondering what happened to the carbon neutral proposal that was discussed in the Winter PC Meeting. I copy below a summary offered to the Policy Council which explains why we decided to hold off on the proposal, as well as an external link to the ongoing voluntary offsetting instrument:http://www.carbonfund.org/site/pages/la ... conference
If you will be attending the Conference in Seoul, we encourage you to contribute. Contributions last year raised only $651.10 --the equivalent of ~43 participants (at $15.27/each). This is less than 10% of the number of attendees. This year, the estimated average emission per attendee went up and the corresponding contribution was set to $19.55/person (to offset 1.95 metric tons/person). The overall aim is to offset 742.9 metric tons, by raising just over $7,000 in total.
While we may wish to continue the carbon offsets discussion here, I am creating a new item in "open discussion" that addresses he issue of climate change more generally, beginning with calling your attention to a recent book by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, "Merchants of Doubt," that creates a devastating portrayal of organized scientific disinformation campaigns that makes clear just how gullible the press, scientific community and the public have been in the treatment of this issue: http://www.bloomsburypress.com/books/ca ... ubt_hc_104
Summary of the carbon neutral discussion:
A voluntary carbon neutral program was initiated for the first time at the Albuquerque conference in 2009. In response to comments following the conference, several of us proposed that the Society continue the practice of allowing participants to purchase offsets for the average carbon emissions associated with conference travel and attendance. Our proposal allowed participants to make up their own minds. Those who did not wish to contribute would elect an "opt-out" option when registering.
We sent the proposal to the SD Forum, and the environmental special interest group’s LinkedIn site, and a serious discussion ensued. Later this fall , the proposal was opened for discussion with the Policy Council via [their] list serve. It was also discussed at the face-to-face meeting in Boston. There were many comments, both in favor and opposed to the proposal. The main argument in favor was that the Society should strive to internalize the impact of our conferences. Given the current state of carbon policy, this may be done by adding the cost of offsets to the registration fee. Some argued that this constituted a political act, and that the Society should not commit to a political action. Others pointed out that not acting is also a political act.
To act or not to act? Those arguing for inaction voiced concern over the extra work at the Society’s home office and the difficulty in verification of carbon offsets. Some argued that focusing attention on carbon policy is a distraction, one that shifts the focus away from the root problem of industrial and population growth. A few argued that the scientific basis for curbing greenhouse gas emissions is too speculative to warrant action. And finally, several argued that offsets are a good idea, but buying offsets should be a personal choice, not a choice for the Society.
The discussion left us with the impression that there is no clear consensus in favor of the proposal. Although the discussion was vigorous, it appeared that the participants were limited to a small fraction of the Society membership. Therefore, we decided it was not appropriate to put the proposal to a Policy Council vote this winter. Instead, we will continue to offer the voluntary web link on the registration site for those who wish to offset at the 2010 conference
Meanwhile, we encourage continued discussion of the Society’s position on carbon neutral conferences. The coming years may see important changes in carbon policies adopted around the world. We would hope that the USA and other nations with large, uncontrolled emissions pass legislation to put a price on their emissions. And in the meantime, we hope that conference participants will “vote with their wallets” by purchasing the offsets needed to reduce the climate impacts of the Society’s conferences.
Allyson Beall, Richard Dudley, Andrew Ford, Aldo Zagonel, and others [February 10, 2010]