When I was younger, my family and I would constantly travel from Maryland to New York to see my grandparents in Massapequa, NY. Beautiful town by the by. That’s not Massapequa up there–that’s Hong Kong.

On the way up there we had to go thru both New Jersey and New York City. I recall being told to roll up the windows–not because we were passing a cemetery(har har) but we were passing through some of the dirtiest air on earth. I remember seeing towering smoke stacks–reminiscent of the Springfield Nuclear PowerPlant on The Simpsons.


While surely they were not this big (perhaps there are that I have not seen) but it was and is  a disturbing problem. The proposition of Flexible Mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol would essentially commodify climate change.

Watch the video. Now for those who don’t know Captain Planet is a kids show from the mid 90s about kids fighting pollution–kind of like our little 15 person group–but you know, with magical rings that summoned elements of the earth. Perhaps if Dickinson can’t afford to give us Kindles to save the planet, they can get us Planeteer rings. Anywho! This is a GREAT example of  commodifcation–but in a way to spread the message.

The ways in which flexible mechanisms work is that another country would buy credits from another country whose emissions are below the budget and use them to lower their emissions theoretically. There are several problems with this:

-First off, by having this loophole countries will think it is okay to just buy credits rather than actually attempt to be proactive–essentially giving them free range to keep polluting as long as they can purchase the credits.

A Nice Little Political Cartoon For Visualization

A Nice Little Political Cartoon For Visualization

-Second, by allowing nations to purchase the credits, it will also open up the doors for generous donations from businesses to come in order for them to keep up their polluting ways.

-Another form of this is through Clean Development Mechanisms or CDMs that would allow developed countries to invest in sustainability efforts and thus earning them credits. While it makes the third world countries more sustainable it leaves the door wide open for developed countries to continue to pollute.

-Lastly, and probably most importantly, the idea of carbon emissions being on the trading block is just plain disturbing.

Overall, I find the flexibility mechanisms to quote the famous Steve Jobs “a bag of hurt” and an easy cop out for nations that are able to afford to do so.

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