Friday, April 11, 2008

Everyone Can Save The Planet In Colorado

I'm done with the carbon footprint dealio. Look, I know that it's important for us to not emit more CO2 or whatever it is into the atmosphere than we have to (which isn't a lot, contrary to what a lot of people think). I get that. But the whole "green" thing and the whole "carbon footprint" thing have both become so politically correct that it doesn't matter if whatever asinine way that you're using them (for nothing more than shameless self promotion and obvious self gratification) is actually "incorrect"(political or not). Colorado lawmakers, please take note.

According to the fine folks over there at 9News in Denver, "Coloradans looking to help the environment may soon be able to showcase their efforts through a new license plate." See what I mean? Why does one's "efforts" have to be "showcased"? Oh, that's right...because what good is it to do something good if no one else knows about it?

9News reports that, "A bill to create the "Colorado Carbon Fund" special plate is expected to pass the House Transportation Committee later Thursday afternoon. Senate Bill 186 has already passed out of the State Senate." The "special plate" being referred to here is neither of the "dinner" nor the "home" variety. No, it is of the "license" variety. As in for your vehicle. You remember your vehicle, right? That thing that spews CO2 into the atmosphere when it's running? RIght. That. Are you starting to taste the irony yet? Or are you still working on the appetizer of stupidity here? The self-serving CO lawmakers have decided that offering "carbon offset credits" is the way to fund "energy efficient and renewable energy projects". No word, of course, on what "carbon offset credits" actually are or which "projects" they will fund. But then it really starts to get weird.

To get the plates, there are a few requirements. First, you have to pay $55.36 for the plate. (OK, fair enough.) Second, you have to make a donation to the "Colorado Carbon Fund" which is a voluntary carbon offset program. (It doesn't actually exist yet because it's still being created by the Governor's Energy Office.) How much of a donation? Oh, the bill doesn't say. It doesn't even guess. It doesn't have a way to estimate a donation. Nothing. All it says is "donation". (Oh, it does mention that "donation" is undefined. What could possibly go wrong?) And that brings me to Number Three.

Number Three isn't so much a procedure or a protocol as much as it is like a determination of vehicle eligibility clause. Remember, this is a program that is designed to promote "clean energy" and "climate mitigation projects". That is why vehicles that are over 16,000 pounds will not be eligible for this license plate. Oh, OK. Wait. How much would a vehicle that would promote "clean energy" with a nifty environmentally friendly license plate weigh?

Let's start with the extremes. The H2 Hummer weighs around 8,600 lbs. It's predecessor, the Hummer H1 weighs about 10,000. And of course, when you think "environmentally friendly" and "clean energy", you think "Hummer", correct? Of course not.

See, the average weight of a passenger car is somewhere between 2,500 lbs. and over 10,000. And while I can't find exact figures, I also can't find one that's over 16,000 lbs. And while I'm throwing figures out here, the average carbon emissions on a passenger car is around 198g/CO2 km (122.76oz/CO2 mi) and the average carbon emissions for an SUV is around 310g/CO2 km (10.93oz/CO2 mi). More comparisons? The Pius, er, Prius emits around 4,226 pounds of CO2 per year. The average SUV emits around 13,421 pounds of CO2 per year. (That's roughly triple the amount, for those of you not wanting to do the math.) But since they're both under 16,000 pounds, they BOTH can have a license plate that proclaims to the world "I'm environmentally friendly, I'm saving the world, I am clean energy and so can you!" And you, too, can proclaim that as you're driving down the road in your less than 16,000 pound vehicle even if it spews thick black smoke as you go down the road and continues to spew carbon dioxide when you're not driving it! (Hell, I don't think they'd care if your car was spewing cyanide when you drove it, just as long as they got their $55.36, you're all good.) This is asinine. Do you think that the money raised through this little "pat yourself on the back" program over there is going to be appropriated in ways that will help all of those "climate mitigation projects"? I'm guessing it won't. (I'm also guessing that not one of the lawmakers who wrote this bill could tell you what "mitigation" means.) This is doing nothing! If you're going to let people pay a little extra for the self-fulfilling privilege of saying "I'm environmentally friendly and it shows" at least only allow it for people who actually ARE environmentally friendly! Heck, at least just allow it for people who MIGHT be environmentally friendly! But, no, because apparently in Colorado, "environmentally friendly" means "I've got $55.36."

Oh, and by the way, "mitigation" means "to become less harsh or hostile" or "to make less painful".

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