Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., (www.intermat.tv)
a television company which executive produces programs and consults
with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc.
is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television
in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the
Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery
Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery
Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted
Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation
Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
April 30, 2007
Tombers Muses on Carbon Credits and Indulgences
Long ago, in that antediluvian age when I attended high school,
I played the character of Tetzel in John Osbornes play,
LUTHER. Tetzel went around Europe raising money for the Pope
by selling indulgences, a get out jail free card for sin.
The blacker the sin, the richer the price. It was a clever
way to raise money, encouraging sin and sinners while keeping
the Pope in the lavish style to which he had become accustomed.
Tetzel was so good at selling indulgences, that he helped
spur Luther into nailing his famous proclamation onto that
church door, heralding the beginning of the Reformation.
It had been sometime since I had thought of good old Tetzel,
who entered stage right, dragged by servants in a cart, spewing
out four plus pages of monologue, extorting the crowd
to pony up for indulgences to wash away their sins. It was
my sister who reminded me of the character. A few columns
ago I wrote about the green movement and that it had gotten
quite a boost from Al Gores film, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.
My sister responded, reminding me that George W. Bush lives
in an ecologically friendly house in Texas while Mr. Gore
lives in an enormous Nashville mansion that chews up energy
at a very non ecological rate. I knew of this obvious embarrassment
but did note the former Veep bought carbon credits to offset
his polluting ways. She responded with the thought that carbon
credits were probably the contemporary version of Tetzels
indulgences. We commit our sins and buy our way out of them
And, of course, it is true. Carbon credits are exactly that,
contemporary indulgences which allow some of us to go on polluting
the earth, guilt free. Recently the New York Times took up
the subject, drawing the exact parallel my sister drew with
those pre-Reformation indulgences. And it is the thing all
the cool hip folks are doing according to all
the cool hip magazines and newspapers.
With the world suddenly, ubiquitously promoting green causes
[this months Vanity Fair is its second annual green
issue, bio diesel is a rage and Nucor, the steel producer
is taking out double truck ads to promote its steel recycling
program] it is comforting to think we may be able to buy our
way out from our consumption. A market is growing in carbon
credits, so many dollars to pay to some cause that is doing
something like planting trees or introducing algae into the
oceans to offset our sins, the overuse of natural
I am sure that some of these carbon credits are very like
Tetzels offerings, not worth the paper they are printed
upon while others probably do some good. There are ways to
find this out, Im sure. This is why God gave us Google,
to find out things like this when we need to.
However, at the end of the day, it will not be enough to just
pay off our sins without changing our ways. It is probable
that all of us could cut our energy use by about a quarter
by just being more careful planning trips in our cars
better, not wasting water [which, by the by, may become as
scarce as oil so lets not alienate our Canadian neighbors
who have quite a lot of it], switching out incandescent bulbs
for fluorescent ones. One can take little steps that are more
concrete than writing a check to a carbon credit agency which
may or may not be legitimate. Perhaps we can all plant an
It is one of the interesting aspects of human nature
we often think we can buy our way out of the messes we help
create. Unfortunately, there probably arent enough carbon
credits working in the world to balance out all our SUVs
and other energy intense indulgences. We can do the carbon
credits while we do more conservation also.
Carbon credits may or may not be worth the paper they are
written on; youll have to do the investigating for legitimacy.
However, as Luther taught us, Tetzels indulgences werent
a get out of jail free card, only another symptom of something