I won't criticize carbon taxes or praise subsidies here, but I do think the respected magazine overstated its case and failed to achieve its own typically astute market-centered and yet progressive policy insight.
Let's take a passage on just one of the three issues:
Buy organic, destroy the rainforest. Organic food, which is grown without man-made pesticides and fertilisers, is generally assumed to be more environmentally friendly than conventional intensive farming, which is heavily reliant on chemical inputs. But it all depends what you mean by “environmentally friendly”. Farming is inherently bad for the environment: since humans took it up around 11,000 years ago, the result has been deforestation on a massive scale. But following the “green revolution” of the 1960s greater use of chemical fertiliser has tripled grain yields with very little increase in the area of land under cultivation. Organic methods, which rely on crop rotation, manure and compost in place of fertiliser, are far less intensive. So producing the world's current agricultural output organically would require several times as much land as is currently cultivated. There wouldn't be much room left for the rainforest.This is quite misleading. First, the journal must argue the case not just that organic agriculture is less efficient with respect to total inputs, which I find plausible, but less efficient with respect to land. Typically, organic agriculture involves more intensive labor and management inputs, which offset less intensive chemical inputs. The Economist should mention a source for the claim that organic agriculture is less efficient per acre. Until they do, I doubt it.
Second, it is quite an omission to claim that organic agriculture's (unproven) land inefficiencies will harm rainforests, without mentioning that growing feed grain for meat is vastly more wasteful. A typical contemporary post-hippy suburbanite's granola diet -- organic food and smaller amounts, if any, of animal products -- is not the cause of deforestation.
[Hat tip to Dr. Vino.]