Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 09, 2007

Offsets help to put a price on pollution

The Sun's article about carbon offsets missed an opportunity to discuss the importance of carbon offsets and of green power in fighting climate change and hastening our transformation to a clean energy future ("Pollution, without all that guilt," Aug. 4).

With little leadership coming out of Washington, individual direct action is vital to making clean technology more affordable than highly polluting energy from coal and fossil fuels.

And The Sun's article omitted several facts about my organization.

In fact, all of Carbon fund.org's carbon-offset obligations are matched against carbon-reducing projects designed to meet internationally accepted standards; our green power and offset financing are important to these projects' viability and often help lead to further projects; our portfolio is fully audited and we provided the reporter with dozens of pages of detailed documents and budgets for our projects.

And it was unfortunate that the reporter used negative terms such as "trafficking" and "peddling" to describe the same positive, market-driven activity thousands of Marylanders are engaging in by buying green power.

Montgomery County's Clean Energy Rewards program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specifically promote the use of renewable energy certificates to promote clean energy and combat climate change.

Carbon offsets are not about assuaging someone's guilt, any more than buying green power justifies wasting energy.

But putting a price on pollution encourages conservation.

We are all responsible for climate change and we all must be part of the solution.

The first step is to reduce our consumption. But even the most efficient car or air conditioner uses energy. And this leaves consumers with a simple choice: to offset that energy use or not to do so.

A new generation of environmental leaders is choosing to reduce what we can and offset what we can't.

Eric Carlson

Silver Spring

The writer is executive director of Carbonfund.org.

Hypocritical to pay others to conserve

In my opinion, the only thing carbon "offsets" actually offset is the guilt and responsibility of hypocritical people ("Pollution without all that guilt," Aug. 4).

While I'll concede that not all carbon offsets are a total sham, the idea strikes me as highly suspect in principle.

I think it's a popular quick-fix for people who don't have the grit to reduce their own consumption. Instead, they throw money at somebody else, then gloat about how green they are. That's shameful.

What's next - the obese buying "dietary offsets" so others will eat less on their behalf?

J. David Lovejoy

Baltimore

Trade station statue for the `Lone Sailor'?

A memorial honoring "the men and women of the Sea Services" is a wonderful idea and one so appropriate for Baltimore's Inner Harbor and its maritime history ("`Lone Sailor' could guard Inner Harbor," Aug. 6).

If the Constellation Museum and the Navy League have trouble finding funding for the statue, here's an idea: Sell that abomination of a Male/Female sculpture that destroys the view of Penn Station for scrap and use the funds to pay for something at the harbor that is tasteful and meaningful.

Carol P. Garitty

Joppa

What a fine idea it is to install the Lone Sailor sculpture in the Inner Harbor.

This sculpture would be most appropriate, and a poignant reminder of our history and heritage (not to mention that it would help redeem the fact that the city has certain ugly artworks in other public spots).

Let me offer a hearty "Aye" to the project.

Molly Kinnaird Johnston

Glen Arm

Redirect traffic to slow speeders

While I am not opposed to speed cameras, there are also a number of lower-tech and perhaps lower-cost solutions to the speeding problem and the problem of too many vehicles in city neighborhoods ("Slow down or say cheese," Aug. 1).

The ideal solution would be to reroute or change the direction of traffic so that local streets in residential neighborhoods could no longer be used as a shortcut for high-speed, crosstown traffic.

Another approach, and one being rediscovered by other great cities in recovery, would be to convert many of our one-way streets back to two-way use and to reinstitute on-street parking during rush hour.

This would help eliminate the one-way streets which function as three-lane expressways through our neighborhoods.

Last, and somewhat counterintuitively, traffic engineers could use the technology found in the new (and unsightly) traffic control cabinets to adjust light synchronization to impede high-speed flow.

Ideally, the timing of the stoplights should be set so that if a driver doesn't drive at 30 miles per hour or more slowly, he or she is guaranteed to hit the next light.

At present, most drivers accelerate as quickly as possible in order to ensure they make the green light at the next block.

Steven Shen

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the board of the Midtown Community Benefits District.

Spending our money on wrong priorities

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