Carbon Neutral vs. Carbon Offset

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Carbon Neutral vs. Carbon Offset

Postby Wilberforce » Fri May 16, 2008 2:56 pm

Carbon Neutral vs. Carbon Offset

The denotations are taken directly from a dictionary:

Neutral: "no activity or development; not taking part of"

Offset: "anything that balances, counteracts, or compensates"

Here is an analogy: A vehicle transmission has "drive, neutral, and reverse." You can only be in one of these
at a time, in other words, driving forward one kilometer, then driving backward in reverse one kilometer does
not equal having been "in neutral" the whole time. Rather, what we have done is "offset" our displacement.
"Neutral" is a completely different state: there is no impetus, thus we have not moved the car any distance at all.

People are mistakenly claiming biomass combustion to be "carbon neutral" when it is actually "carbon offset."
The word "offset" fits the term; the word "neutral" does not. People should use the proper words to accurately
describe what they are talking about.

Read more here:
Why wood burning is not carbon neutral
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Postby silverback » Sun May 18, 2008 12:40 am

I agree, I have always had a problem with the term Carbon Neutral, as it is always used for something that produces Carbon, unfortunately the world is led by PR men in suits who come up with these ridiculous terms, also the media love to label everything, it is time we rejected these untrue terms that we are fed, and started using terms that actually truly explain the process. wood burners are sustainable in my view if the cycle is carried out properly, nothing more, they will not save the world.
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Postby Wilberforce » Tue May 20, 2008 12:10 am

Everyone, join the debate on Robert's blog ... n-neutral/
Noel, on May 19th, 2008 at 11:54 am Said:
"I strongly sympathise with your air pollution agenda, however, to restate a point, the inclusion of the word “development” implies no change over time, and not necessarily no “activity”. Think of the word ‘neutralise’, in the way an alkali can neutralise an acid. In addition the common parlance use of ‘carbon neutral’ matches this definition – a ‘carbon neutral’ company is one whose emissions have been offset. Again I sympathise with the air pollution issue, however you are fighting a losing battle against popular, and correct, conception...

...In the literal sense, “wood burning” is in fact carbon neutral.

In the practical sense, biomass power is sustainable technology, and has very low carbon impact."

Noel, you have the definitions backwards. I refer to unambiguous, accurate, and precise denotative definitions of the words "neutral" and "offset," yet you attempt to twist and distort their meanings. I have carefully read every possible definition of the word "neutral" and of the word "offset." There is nothing in the word "neutral" which refers to a "process of development." Everywhere is the term "neither" or "nor." That implies a state of existence: that of "neutrality." Neutrality is NOT a process; it is a state of being, a state of existence. The definition of "offset" does, however, denote a PROCESS and a DEVELOPMENT.

As an example you gave: "An acid neutralizes a base." I would counter with "giving neither acidic NOR alkaline reaction." In electrical work, neutral means "neither positively NOR negatively charged, or uncharged" There's that word "NOR" again - suggesting a state of being, not a process or activity.

In chemistry, there is a state defined as "neutrality," where the hydrogen ion concentration equals the hydroxide ion concentration. That is equivalent to what I have referred to in the vehicle analogy, as one of neutrality: It is a STATE of existence. I cannot hold in my hand a vessel (of solid liquid or gaseous carbon fuel) which is "carbon-neutral" because there is no such thing. What exactly is a neutral carbon fuel where carbon is present? This cannot be "neutral," where the "object of neutrality" is in existence. That's like saying "It's there, but it isn't there. That makes no sense at all! On the other hand, I can hold a beaker of "neutral" pH pure water, or a neutral salt solution, because that is a tangible thing. Neutral is a mode of being, not a process.

One website I've researched refers to "carbon-neutral" in it's correct sense: NOT USING CARBON. (i.e. wind, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear) Then they go on to address (what they refer to as) "The other carbon-neutral": (i.e. burning biomass) Why confuse people? Why not call a horse a horse? Why must there be TWO TYPES of carbon-neutral? Why can't biomass combustion be correctly referred to as what it actually is: "OFFSET?"

I have added "carbon-neutral woodburning" to my list of oxymorons.

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