The most personal carbon offset I can imagine is a treesitter. Those brave souls spend weeks, months, even years perched a hundred feet above ground in the embrace of branches in an attempt to save one tree\u2014and by extension, halt logging in that tree\u2019s forest. If I were a capitalist treesitter, I\u2019d start my own carbon offset program. The treesitter\u2019s tree is guaranteed to suck down carbon like treesitters suck in joints. My capitalist version would be a twist on the orphan adoption you see on TV commercials: buy your offset by adopting this treesitter\u2019s tree. The tree is bound to bind up your carbon emissions for a year for just a small check every month. I\u2019ll even send you photos of your tree. On a massive offset level, credits are being engineered by much loftier businesses to adjust for greenhouse gas emissions by planting and expanding forests. This is in a state, as well as a nation and world, where forests have been decimated for hundreds of years. Instead of being profitable to cut them down, offsets endeavor to put some profitability into growing them back up. Take the global microcosm of California. Forests were an enormous carbon sink 200 years ago. In the interim, timber companies clearcut to meet the building demands of an expanding population. There were no shortages of timber barons in the 1880s. They built opulent homes and clubs dotting what once was wilderness. Timber companies in the state logged capriciously in the last centuries. Forest decimation is and was enhanced by technology during that time. Trucks replaced rivers and horses for transporting cut trees. Chainsaws took over to make fast work of cutting down those trees where two-man blades used to be the common, and sweaty, method of dispatch. The U.S. Forest Service is complicit in helping industry remove the public\u2019s carbon sink. The feds and timber companies work together to log public lands. Government builds roads that feed to logging sites where log trucks kick up dust ferrying the former trees to be milled. It requires a paltry fee for timber companies to move in and cut trees. The government then often returns to the site and further erodes the carbon sink by spraying herbicides (used to be Agent Orange\u20142,4, 5-T and 2,4-D\u2014now it\u2019s primarily Roundup, a.k.a. glyphosate) to kill more vegetation in the clearcut. If you venture way, way, way off grid, you\u2019ll find devastation\u2014destruction of public lands and attendant carbon sinks. (I\u2019m not parroting others\u2019 research. I spent six years as a forest worker and firefighter and was helicoptered into forests few have seen\u2014with the attendant devastation from clearcuts as well as fire.) If you watch carefully, you might even pass under a treesitter out there fending off forest decimation, one tree at a time. So, with offsets, this is what the state has to start with\u2014a decimated carbon sink. If offset investments are set up correctly, the state can create a double positive effect. First, some forest remediation can prosper. Second, more carbon can be sucked out of the atmosphere and sequestered. That takes trust. And verification. The thing about expanding forests to back offsets is that forests are not easily monitored. They\u2019re way out there. Beyond paved back roads. Beyond roads at all. The best of intentions, like planting new saplings, are often thwarted by nature\u2014drought, floods, herbicides, habitat destruction. That\u2019s if the planting crew actually gets to a site, if they actually plant, and if they don\u2019t throw their burlap bags of saplings over a ridge to avoid the backbreaking labor it takes to dig a hoedad into the soil hundreds of times a day. Does California trust that new, expanding forests will take root for offsets? Our state must be dreaming that out-of-sight forests are, indeed, going to expand as promised by companies in the business of creating offsets. I think many of them mean to do what they promise. But, I also know from a treesitter\u2019s vantage that keeping track of what goes on in far away forests is near-impossible. As far as I\u2019ve heard, the U.S. Forest Service is not going into the business of offsets. On one side, if it does, it has the infrastructure to address forest expansion. Overwhelmingly, the Forest Service has used that infrastructure to remove carbon sinks. I imagine the bureaucracy could change, but hold out little hope. Without the feds, the state cannot fiscally or physically manage on-site monitoring\u2014forests are basically inaccessible. Even if California could provide a four-wheel drive, binoculars, and an infinite supply of Cliff bars, the financial state of the state does not allow us to hire that many monitors. If not on-the-ground offset enforcement, the state may be able to manage flyovers. Helicopters could fly low enough to actually record plantings and growth. With the state\u2019s budget deficit, it may come down to trust, without the verification. That serves an odd equation. Government can pretty much pin down how much greenhouse gas is emitted from stationary sources like power plants. Yet the carbon sink aspect of offsets is an ethereal guess\u2014both on the sink side and the enforcement side. If offsets are to work on enforcement, it will take a new budget line item from the state. Perhaps Gov. Brown will find a place for that. Even so, flyovers are certain to be an uncertain evaluation method. Could I trust a treesitter to stay put? Would s\/he take my money, rappel down, and run off to a warm café for the winter? Despite my guilt-inducing photo, I couldn\u2019t verify they were still there, fending off further carbon sink destruction because it\u2019s out of my range of access. It remains in the realm of faith. If half our expected greenhouse gas reductions are supposed to be met with offsets, it\u2019s blind faith for the state to believe those offsets are doing their carbon sink business. There\u2019s little or no money or geography for enforcement. As much as I admire treesitters, I\u2019d put less faith in lofty green offsets, and measure reductions I can hold high but are right in front of me.