Coincidentally, a day after An Inconvenient Truth won its Oscar, Netflix delivered the same film to us. We watched it last night. Or rather, I should say, I attempted to watch it. After ten minutes of listening to Al Bore’s disconcertingly slow and rhythmic voice (disconcerting, because the speed and rhythm never have anything to do with content), and after eying his endless graphs, I did exactly what I used to do in college under the same circumstances: I fell asleep. I enjoyed a lovely 90 minute nap, from which I’d rouse periodically to hear “sacrifice” repeatedly, “Greenland” frequently, and “ice caps” regularly. I really can’t comment, therefore, about the film’s contents, because it would have taken way too much caffeine to enable me to absorb those contents.
Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.
Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.
Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.
“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
Al Gore’s energy consumption is a very easy target for a hypocrisy attack. Too easy, so I thought I’d aim for something a bit more subtle. You’ve probably heard Gore’s defense by now, which is that he purchases carbon offset credits. Here’s how an NPR story explains what these are. (You can listen to the whole story here.):
Melissa Block talks with Mark Trexler, president of Trexler Climate and Energy Services in Portland, Ore., about carbon offsets — what they are, and how a small consumer can reduce carbon emissions.
Texler says that carbon offsets work by calculating how much carbon dioxide you are putting into the air, and then you figure out how much to pay a carbon-offset company to counteract the pollution.
The system works by supporting alternative energy initiatives. And after buying offsets from retail offset brokers, “You can them claim to be climate-neutral,” Texler says.
In other words, if you’re poor, you decrease your own energy use, driving a smaller, less safe car; living in darkened rooms; and otherwise suffering the inconvenience that goes with walking away from the average American’s energy consumption. If you’re rich, you hire someone else to it for you, and continue to live large, even piggishly. Thomas Lifson, writing at American Thinker, summed up the whole thing nicely, both by comparing this conduct to the medieval purchase of indulgences, and to the more recent Civil War era practice of buying commutations. With regard to the latter, Lifson has this to say:
During the Civil War, it was possible for well-to-do men who were drafted to pay a $300 “commutation fee” and escape the draft. The move sparked much public outrage, creating the impression that the war was a “rich man’s war” and probably contributing to the disgraceful draft riots in New York City, which led to the lynching of African Americans.
It seems to me that the purchase of carbon credits is a direct imitation of commutation fee. I don’t expect to see SUV-deprived soccer moms lunching the wealthy outside of fixed base operator terminals at haunts of private jet-setters like Teterboro and Santa Monica Airports, but I do expect public revulsion to rise and rise, as sacrifices demanded of ordinary people are evaded by the wealthy. The war on global warming seems very much a “rich man’s war.”
In other words, in Gore’s world, the only people who should suffer the inconveniences of his “truth” are the ones who can’t pay to have someone else shoulder that burden.
It seems to me that, if Gore were genuinely serious about this whole climate thing, and not simply cynically using climate change as a platform by which to keep himself in he public eye, he wouldn’t simply be “carbon neutral.” Instead, he’d apply himself, personally, to negative carbon growth. This means that Al should turn over the bulk of his significant wealth over to those same carbon offset organizations he uses now so as not to inconvenience himself. That would allow them to continue their mission of aiding poor manufacturers who want to clean up.
More than that, though, Al should seriously clean up his own act. He should sell all three of his properties, turn his profits over to those offset companies, and he and Tipper should move into a nice 1,500 square foot house, and live like the rest of us sacrificial lambs. I strongly feel that St. Gore, too, should suffer a little inconvenience for his “truth.”
On a slightly different subject, but something that still remains within this same post, let me say something about Greenland. At least half the time when I woke up a bit from my Bore induced snooze, I’d hear him droning on about Greenland. Al is very perturbed about the greening of Greenland, and I’m sure I heard him say that, in the past, the ice has retreated a little, but not as much as it’s retreating now. I’d have to differ with him on that one.
Has Gore ever wondered why Greenland, that block of ice, got its name? It got its name because it was once green! Right before the medieval mini Ice Age, there was a medieval global warming age. (Probably caused by carbon emissions from burning dried cow dung.) That icy land mass we now know as Greenland actually turned green at the time, and became a viable farming community for some outlaw Vikings. If Al mentioned this fact, I was sleeping when he did so.
It seems to me that Gore, more than many, illustrates the adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.