The Coen Brothers' Green Guilt and Their Purchase of Eco-Indulgences: The Eco-Extortion Scam
From the September 2007 LA Times article "Can You Buy a Greener Conscience?":
The race to save the planet from global warming has spawned a budding industry of middlemen selling environmental salvation at bargain prices. The companies take millions of dollars collected from their customers and funnel them into carbon-cutting projects, such as tree farms in Ecuador, windmills in Minnesota and no-till fields in Iowa.
In return, customers get to claim the reductions, known as voluntary carbon offsets, as their own. For less than $100 a year, even a Hummer can be pollution-free -- at least on paper.
Driven by guilt, public relations or genuine concern over global warming, tens of thousands of people have purchased offsets to zero out their carbon impact on the planet. Beneath the feel-good simplicity of buying your way to carbon neutrality is a growing concern that the idea is more hype than solution.
In this related commentary "Carbon Offsets: Eco-Extortion, Green Guilt, and the Selling of Indulgences," Frank Pastore writes:
The selling of “voluntary carbon offsets”—eco-indulgences—is a $55 million per year industry, involving over three dozen companies worldwide. Total sales are anticipated to double both this year and next, and entrepreneurs are clamoring all over themselves for a piece of the action.
And it’s all a scam.
Yes, the money is very real, but the alleged benefits to the environment are fake. Paying someone to plant a tree to “offset” the carbon footprint of your SUV is just plain silly. Yet there are thousands of people spending real money on these kind of indulgences every day.
Why? The answer is that it’s part green guilt, part eco-extortion, and part just plain novelty.
MP: Both articles point out this part of the scam: Native Energy and other companies selling eco-indulgences often contribute only 1% of the total cost of windmill projects and alternative energy plants, yet they claim and sell 100% of the carbon reductions.