Absurd

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Dear Editor: Regarding your attempt at calculating the carbon offset amount mandated by your and others’ air travel (WF, Nov./Dec.,’16) I am somewhat puzzled by the whole enterprise. Yes, we all participate in the machinery of ongoing environmental degradation and the apparently accelerating pace of climate catastrophe. But isn’t it misleading, even absurd to try to calculate this out in dollars-and-cents terms as if we could pay out toward our fiscal responsibility at an imaginary teller window somewhere? Really, how could mere humans have any real conception of the actual load placed on the biosphere by our various collective activities? And doesn’t reducing that responsibility to a dollar amount imply that we can simply pay for it, in whatever amount we reckon the damage to be, and then go back to our usual practices without another thought?

To me, this is not a calculable sort of injury. It’s much more like a bunch of unruly children whose squabbles and gyrations together are endangering the welfare of all of us in the lifeboat--our precious planet Earth! Wouldn’t it be a much more realistic enterprise, however imprecise, to attempt some estimate of what we as a nation or a world could be reasonably spending now at least, for economic and environmental rehab toward the creation of a more sustainable basis for global human survival? Perhaps this calculation has already been done and an estimate reached, though I would doubt our human powers to even guess credibly at this cost.

– Carl Thatcher, Multnomah Friends Meeting (NPYM)