August 08, 2006

Gore Hypocrisy--Reducing Carbon Footprint By Selling Second Home

John Tierney, in an op-ed for the NY Times (subscribers only), takes those like Al Gore to task concerning second homes, carbon footprints, and the liberal salves used to assuage guilt from excessive energy use--like Catholic indulgences:
Fine advice, and it would be even better if he journeyed to his lectures exclusively on Greyhound. But he seems to prefer cars and planes. When you tally up his international travel to inspect melting glaciers and the domestic trips between his homes — one in Washington and another in Nashville, not to mention the family farm in rural Tennessee featured in the movie — you’re looking at a Godzilla-sized carbon footprint.

. . .

Granted, some environmentalists deal publicly with their carbon footprints. Gore and David say they offset their energy usage by sponsoring reductions in greenhouse gases through alternative forms of power and energy conservation (like building wind farms and paying farmers to turn methane into electricity). But are “carbon offsets” sufficient compensation? Not to activists like Charles Komanoff, an economic consultant to environmental groups.

He argues in Grist, an environmental magazine, that paying a penny or so per mile to offset the carbon from driving your car isn’t the moral equivalent of riding your bike instead. It’s more like the Catholic Church’s old system of selling indulgences so the rich could avoid something scarier than global warming: purgatory. Quoting Gandhi — “Be the change you want to see in the world” — Komanoff says his fellow environmentalists should stop offering “get out of purgatory free” cards to the rich and instead insist that everyone personally reduce energy use.

I’m not such a purist myself — I’d let the average person salve his conscience with a carbon indulgence. But I’d hold environmentalist preachers like Gore to higher standards, especially when they’re engaging in unnecessary energy use. And since I cannot afford a second home, I can objectively determine it to be unnecessary.
At least some environmentally concerned activists realize that others on their side are hypocrites.

Energy for me and my SUV, and private jet, and second home
but not for thee.

Oh, and feel guilty about it too!


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