My high school dreams of a carbon-based utopia

December 22, 2009

*Welcome to readers from The Tyee*

Roadshow stop: Carbon Project Solutions
Roadshow mentor: Joseph Pallant

Joseph Pallant, President and CEO, Carbon Project Solutions

Of the few things that stand out from my high school education is a video that I watched in my OAC World Issues Geography class. (My reference to OAC may give some indication of just how long ago this was.) In high school, videos usually meant nap time. But for this particular flick, I was compelled to stay awake. It was all about the environment–specifically global warming–which was still more than a decade away from being a household word. The video, set in a utopic future, was a mockumentary on how the world solved its environmental and social issues, such as pollution, poverty, and even war, through carbon trading. It seemed so simple–wealthier countries that exceeded their worldwide regulated carbon output quota would invest in clean energy production in developing nations. This created a reduction in the greenhouse gases pumped out into the atmosphere and stimulated economic growth in countries that needed it. Even my apathetic 18-year-old brain thought this made sense. Both my geography teacher and the video were way ahead of their time.

So why all this nostalgia about my first encounters with carbon management? It seemed appropriate, in light of the recently finished (and mostly disappointing) United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) to post my Roadshow stop with Joseph Pallant, the president and CEO of Carbon Project Solutions. Because Joseph is all about carbon. His company, Carbon Project Solutions, helps businesses, governments, and organizations access the carbon market and develop emission reductions projects. And he works both sides–he helps companies offset their carbon, as well as companies who have offsets to sell. (For a definition of carbon offsetting, have a look here.)

Contemplating the many facets of carbon managment

For my day at Carbon Project Solutions, Joseph approached things a bit differently than most Roadshow stops. Usually I’m given a task that requires an extra set of hands. But ever the entrepreneur, Joseph took a close look at my skill set to see how he could use it to his advantage and created a task designed specifically for me, which was to write the copy for his website. It was definitely a challenge. Because Joseph speaks and writes in “carbon-ese” or carbon jargon. But his website needed to make issues such as carbon offsetting, emissions reduction, carbon management, and what role Carbon Project Solutions plays in these issues, accessible and easy to understand by non-carbon-ese speakers. (Admittedly, this wasn’t completely unfamiliar territory for me, as one of my roles at the David Suzuki Foundation was to do exactly this. I translated complex scientific environmental issues into relevant and compelling messages that prompted people to act–specifically to donate.)

After much back and forth, Joseph and I developed a script that we both felt represented him and his company–and was concise in its message. It was a job I was happy to do. Because I believe Joseph, and individuals like him, are part of a greater movement that will make the utopic picture painted for me as a pre-adult become a reality. Sure, it may be an overly optimistic attitude, especially in light of the COP-15 outcome, but even when I wasn’t napping in high school, and currently still today, I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer.

Oh..and if anyone remembers what video it was that we watched in Mr. Annett’s OAC World Issues class circa 1995, please send me the name!

Joseph Pallant
Carbon Project Solutions
His blog: lilcarbon

My Soapbox (It’s my soapbox and I’m going to stand on it!)
A few breakdowns and discussions on the disappointing outcomes of COP-15:
desmogblog.com
The Flopenhagen Accord
greenpeace.ca
The Guardian -George Monbiot
The Guardian – John Vidal, Allegra Stratton and Suzanne Goldenberg

What you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint:
How to Go Carbon Neutral
A Guide to Purchasing Carbon Offsets

Other overall awesome sites dedicated to the environment:
treehugger.com
huffingtonpost.com/green
tcktcktck.org
grist.org
avaaz.org

A cool environmental design company:
goodfore.com

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2 Responses to “My high school dreams of a carbon-based utopia”

  1. Jenna Says:

    Great article, Helen. I want to work there! I WISH I could remember the name of that video!! Mr. Annette is also the person who inspired me to study the environment – waaaaay back when. We actually took that OAC course right after the Rio Summit and the famous definition of Sustainable Development was coined. Oh how things have changed since…


  2. [...] us in the proper way to word a website was par excellence, and very much appreciated. Check out her post about the experience, as well as the resultant the Carbon Project Solutions Website. If any of the wording looks funny, [...]


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