I didn’t call Mad River Glen’s Eric Friedman to talk carbon offsets, but as is often the case with Eric, things veered off-course.
It seems that Mad River is considering the purchase of offsets to neutralize its carbon footprint, but Eric was concerned that doing so would make them an easy mark for the ever-growing battalion of enviro-cynics. “Are we setting ourselves up?” he asked.
I didn’t have a good answer for him, and it didn’t hit me until much later how royally screwed-up this is: Eric Friedman, who has never let political correctness stand between him and, well, much of anything, is concerned that buying carbon offsets will make him and the ski resort, er, area he works for a target.
Cynicism is so seductive. It makes the cynic feel at once witty, morally superior, and smug. Sure, there are other ways to get that feeling, but unfortunately, they’re either illegal, or make you feel like shit the next day.
Friedman is right: Carbon offsets are an easy target. That’s because they’re almost equal parts problem and solution. They are the hybrid SUV of the carbon consumer and to the working class Vermonter they are Al Gore in a Prius. Which is to say, something that deserves both derision and dismissal.
So yeah, carbon offsets aren’t the answer; that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Eric and I ended up talking about other, more tangible ways Mad River can cut its carbon output. This, of course, is where the answer lies, both individually and collectively. But If carbon offsets are the bridge we need to get there, then by all means, let’s build it. And then get across the damn thing as quick as possible.