If forests go up in smoke, so can carbon offsets

TOPSHOT-BRAZIL-FIRE-AMAZONPhoto credit should read JOAO LAET/AFP/Getty Images

Raging fires across the Amazon and the start of California’s fire season have put the heat back on a controversial method for balancing the carbon budget, called offsets.

Here’s how offsets work. Let’s say a person or a company wants to contribute less to global warming. One option would be to cut down on air travel, since flights result in a lot of planet-warming gases, including carbon dioxide. But what if it just hurts too much to miss out on that family reunion or that conference on the other side of the country? Instead of skipping that flight, someone might purchase offsets that would theoretically cancel out the carbon emissions generated by flying.

They might contribute to a fund that protects a piece of the Amazon, or pay to…

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Author: Justine Calma