An ‘ethical travel agent’, the Independent tells us today, goes ethical, deciding that getting customers to pay a little extra to ‘offset’ their damage to the environment is really just a way to help people feel better about persevering with their destructive lifestyles – in other words, just a placebo, and one that’s particularly lucrative for the middlemen involved.
I thought I’d celebrate this news by sharing an interesting documentary about the practical results of industry-scale carbon ‘indulgences’ for the people involved on the ground. The film embedded at bottom was created by two groups of people separated by cultural differences and great distance and yet who are linked by the absurdities that result from inherently destructive industries trying to make themselves appear a little ‘less bad’ – by attempting to sweep their dirt under a mat that lies thousands of miles away.
The two groups of people are from Grangemouth, Scotland and Sao Jose do Buriti, Brazil. British Petroleum (or Beyond Petroleum as they like to call themselves today, although they should really call themselves ‘Back to Petroleum‘) sought to offset its Grangemouth refinery emissions, which were wreaking havoc for the Grangemouth townsfolk, by planting forests in Sao Jose do Buriti – resulting in large monoculture eucalyptus plantations robbing the people of the region of the limited water reserves they had.
Brazil is one of the most active ‘hotspots’ for the carbon market, hosting nearly 20 per cent of all offset projects. In Brazil there are nearly 4 million hectares (an area the size of Belgium) of monoculture eucalyptus plantations, some of which are being earmarked for carbon trading by the Government, the World Bank, and private companies. Much of this land was appropriated by the former dictatorship and ceded to private plantation companies without regard for the communities that have been living there for generations. Numerous people have been evicted from their lands, lost access to shared water and land resources, and have had their livelihoods and ecosystems destroyed. One local farmer, Antonio, remarked: ‘Eucalyptus has been grown with blood.’ – New Internationalist
The people of each town, as they share video footage with each other, interestingly become just as horrified at the plight of their distant counterparts as they were about their own predicament. It’s well worth a watch, and a little consideration.
The Carbon Connection