It happened in Indonesia but it could have been any third-world, oops, developing nation with land suitable for palm-oil production: a plan by outside investors (70 percent, by charter) to engage in a sort of global extortion by selling "carbon credits" guaranteeing a large chunk of carbon-rich rainforest swampland would remain untouched for a specified period of time has stumbled and come to naught in the final step of a long, tortuous government approval process. Turned out the palm-oil company had filed a competing application some years earlier -- or at least found paperwork showing they had.
"Carbon credits." It's just first-world guilt money, fancy extortion. It's got no reality; you can't saw 'em into blocks, sort 'em or weigh 'em. Sure, stock markets and the like work in much the same way -- but they are, you will note, operating in the developed nations, under a shared belief in intangibles. For a country with a surplus of hungry babies and available natural resources, what looks like the better bet, thirty-year shares in untouchable swampland or the outfit promising to grow crops in it, hire locals and turn out heavy barrels of a physical product?
The clever, clever bleeding hearts (or whatever -- hey, I saw the movie Paper Moon when it came on the TV) busy trying to invent a new derivative of an intangible to salve the guilt of latte-sipping iPhoned Europeans and North Americans might be better off figuring out how to synthesize palm oil from garbage using tropical heat and plenty of manpower if they want to keep those carbon-rich rainforests all shiny-green and mucky. In Indonesia, they're not nearly as worried about the next century as they are about today's lunch. (Whether or not "carbon credits" really do anything to improve our future is a whole other topic.)
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