In today’s must-read piece, Victor Davis Hanson compares the buying of carbon offsets to the purchase of indulgences by Medieval sinners:

“Take the idea of ‘carbon offsets’ made popular by Al Gore. If well-meaning environmentalist activists and celebrities either cannot or will not give up their private jets or huge energy-hungry houses, they can still find a way to excuse their illiberal consumption.

“Instead of the local parish priest, green companies exist to take confession and tabulate environmental sins. Then they offer the offenders a way out of feeling bad while continuing their conspicuous consumption.

“You can give money to an exchange service that does environmental good in equal measure to your bad. Or, in do-it-yourself fashion, you can calibrate how much energy you hog — and then do penance by planting trees or setting up a wind generator.

“Either way, your own high life stays uninterrupted.”