It’s now pretty much irrefutable that our planet is getting hotter. Temperatures are soaring, sea levels are going up, and we’re now comfortably cruising toward an apocalypse of our own making. So it makes sense that you’d want to do something about it. But I’ve got some bad news: Chances are, whatever you’re doing isn’t helping.
Take carbon offsetting. The idea goes that you pay a little extra for your flight, and in return your airline plants a tree or whatever. Sounds good, except for the part where it doesn’t make any sense. In the West, they produce a lot of emissions—so much so that offsetting them all would require the rest of the world to start producing negative carbon. In other words, offsetting is no help at all, just like recycling. Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, but recycling has become a global market. That means that suppliers of recycled goods follow the money—even if it involves shipping their produce across the world, at ozone-shredding energy costs. And that’s before we get started on the environmental damage caused by mercury mining for energy-efficient light bulbs. So, to sum up: The planet is doomed and trying to help will only make things worse. Great.