As the carbon neutrality market grows, some experts wonder if the non-regulated practice is having any real effect on the environment.
"Want to stop contributing to global warming every time you drive the car or turn on the computer? It may not be as hard as you think. A growing number of Mainers and other Americans are buying their way to more 'carbon neutral' lives.
Less than $150 can cancel out the pollution produced to power the lights and appliances in a typical Maine home for one year. Another $75 a year might cover the climate damage done by the average car.
Businesses have been doing it for years, but only the most savvy environmentalists have known that regular folks can, too. The idea is basically this: Pay to reduce a certain amount of carbon dioxide pollution anywhere in the world and neutralize the damage caused by your house, your furnace, your car or even your family vacation.
While the carbon offset market is growing fast, it also is unregulated, and some purchases may do more to ease a guilty conscience than actually fight global warming. And some fear the system may even make matters worse by leading people to believe they can simply pay to make climate change go away."