Carbon tax credits are nothing more than modern-day indulgences issued for money by government regulators. There is no “incentive” when a polluter buys a tract of forest to “offset” its toxins. It is merely an illusion, a payoff for the right to sin against the planet. Ultimately, polluters fouling one corner of the globe exercise proprietary dominance to simply buy up pristine land in another area as financial atonement for environmental degradation.
The ecosystemcannot be stewarded by the governments andcorporationsto which humans have abdicated responsibility for its care: Only individuals can truly steward or “conserve” land. Stewardship cannot be divvied up into traded “shares” on exchanges, yet that is precisely what current “initiatives” seek. Such industrial reductionism reveals the extent of human alienation from the land that sustains life.
To its peril, America has reduced all values to the pursuit of material wealth. As Wendell Berry, a farmer, cultural critic, and environmental activist poet, claimed in an essay:
It has emptied the country of the independent and the proud, and has crowded the cities with the dependent and the abject. It has always sacrificed the small to the large, the personal to the impersonal, the good to the cheap. It has risen to its questionable triumphs over the bodies of small farmers and tradesmen and craftsmen. I see it, still, driving my neighbors off their farms into the factories. I see it teaching my students to give themselves a price before they can learn to give themselves a value.