Back in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church would sell you an “indulgence” for your sins. Pay the church a set amount per sin, and they’d hand over a piece of fancy paper saying your sin had been wiped clean. It was a quick way for the rich and middle classes to buy their ways into heaven.
These days, green chic has brought us the carbon offset as a modern-day form of the indulgence. Fly on a plane, and for a few extra dollars the airline will throw some money at a random “clean development” project. You pollute the earth with your jet ride, but you feel so much better inside. This is also the worst possible way to support green development. Read more of my rant about the dark side of carbon indulgences.