On carbon offsets, Wirecutter story doesn’t cut it
When it comes to buying goods and gadgets, you could do worse than to follow recommendations from Wirecutter, The New York Times’ consumer-review website.
The same can’t be said about their recent article, “We Wish Buying Carbon Offsets for Your Flight Helped. It Doesn’t.” In fact, their conclusion is bafflingly wrong: Paying to protect an area of forest to offset the climate footprint of your flight does in fact — demonstrably and verifiably — help.
Let’s look at Wirecutter’s two main claims.
A question of ‘permanence’
“In most cases, carbon offsets do not capture or reduce real emissions,” the author writes, “and they have a dismal record when it comes to actually averting future emissions.”
Wirecutter backs up this claim by linking to a reference article from the website Carbon Offset Guide about “permanence,” a term that refers to the durability of a forest that has been protected for offsets. Permanence is a very real challenge — after all, why pay to protect a forest if it’s burned or cut down a few years later?
But most offset programs…