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The Indulgence Problem

Clint Hendler at MojoBlog, the blog for Mother Jones Magazine, again draws issue with the so-called indulgence problem for TerraPass.

(For full background on the history of indulgences, see the wikipedia entry.)

In making his argument, Clint draws the following analogy:

Warning, imperfect analogy ahead: If I routinely dump garbage on the street, does an annual check to a highway beautification fund absolve me? Sure, my donation can’t hurt, but it ignores my responsibility for the original problem.

Yes the analogy is imperfect — mainly because throwing garbage on the street is an outrageous act that no civic-minded person would really do. Driving a vehicle, and creating climate change, is something that everyone does almost every day.

You are throwing garbage on the street every day — the only question is will you clean up after yourself?

To understand TerraPass you must let go of the fact that cars are evil and accept the fact that cars are here to stay. We have constructed our world to exist with them and we will continue to drive them. The only variable left is how we manage the pollution associated with them.

TerraPass is not a panacea. TerraPass is not even a root cause solution. TerraPass is an incremental solution that benefits clean energy providers and allows everday consumers to efficiently manage their pollution. If we are going to make an impact on climate change and our environment, solutions must be compatible with everyday life.


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