Learning About Emissions From Business?

The anglers at a Miami sailfish tournament are bragging about more than just reeling in the biggest fish.

"We are offsetting the fuel we burn this weekend. Our T-shirts, everything that is involved with this tournament. People traveling in, our banquets, everything is being offset," said tournament organizer Dan Kipnis.

Kipnis is talking carbon offsets. He calculated the greenhouse gases generated by the tournament to be $1,500, CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan reports.

And then paid a fee - the same amount, to offset the amount of greenhouse gases elsewhere - making the tournament what's called carbon-neutral.

So the $1,500, or the pollution from the fishing tournament, is being offset by a dairy farm in Clymer, N.Y.

How? Well, 600 dairy cows produce a lot of milk every day - and something else.

Manure…is being turned into energy.

"Yes it is dollar signs to me - manure to everyone else," said Vinnie Howden of Ridgeline Farm.

The manure generates methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas - but also a potential source of power. Instead of going back up into the air, the methane is turned into electricity by a generator, the equipment is partially funded by the fishing tournament.

"Right now, the farm actually has a zero electric bill and we actually sell power back to the grid - the national grid." Howden said.

The company that brought the fishing tournament and the farm together is Driving Green, one of at least 70 groups helping industries and individuals become carbon-neutral.

Learn more about carbon offsets at Couric & Co. Blog
But critics say carbon offsets enable people to pollute … and just buy their way out.

Dan Linsky of Driving Green says that's not so.

"So this isn't guilt money?" Sreenivasan asked.

"Not at all, no," Linsky said. "We actually do reduce emissions. If it was guilt money, I would take your money and say, 'Okay, bless you.' But no, it's not guilty money."

While Driving Green's projects are verified by a third party, not all businesses calling themselves carbon offsetters are.

That means you have to do your homework - like the anglers did. They hope to hook others on the idea of going carbon neutral.
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