We all know that St. Nick's little assistant, Peter, puts coal in your stocking if you haven't been too good. Well, this year's gift du jour is a remedy for the coal in your life! Yes, I'm talking about Carbon Credits: the perfect Christmas gift for family and friends who contribute more than their fair share of polluting emissions. And you have your choice of suppliers, too!
Of course, there's something a little strange about purchasing carbon offsets if it's going to allow a polluter to go on, unrepentant. It's a bit like the abuse of the Church's system of indulgences: the wealthy person who paid the serfs (more likely just ordered them) to do his penance for him never learned "in his flesh" what harm his sins inflicted. Still, both the indulgence system and the carbon-offset approach acknowledge that what one person (or entity) does can have a harmful (or positive) impact on a much wider scale, even a universal scale.