No inconvenience to this truth

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.

What I feel confident talking about is the news story that Saint Al Gore is an energy hog, big-time:

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.

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  • greg

    pssssst, Booklet? the conservative blogstorm on this was on Tuesday, so your post today is a little like the last Heaven Gater, who found himself committing suicide but to no avail, because the comet had already gone. I know you’ve been on yet another of your fancy vacations, but please try to adhere to your Conservative Borg’s agenda, OK? Oh, and not that you’re one who permits information to occlude the clarity of her argument, but yet another rejoinder to the inconsequence of your Gore attack can be found here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-roberts/talking-points-on-the-gor_b_42335.html

  • BigAL

    i’m just going to paste it Greg:

    By david roberts.

    I just talked with a reporter from CNS News — a right-wing media site — about the Al Gore pseudo-scandal. Who knows how my comments will end up being represented in the piece. Probably something like, “Al Gore … does it … with … hogs.”

    But just to keep a public record, here are the talking points I shared with him. Feel free to borrow them for your own encounters with media or family and friends:

    It’s nice to see the conservative media taking the message of conservation and energy efficiency seriously. Hopefully they will hold their own leaders and readers to the same high standards.
    The Tennessee Tax Dept. does not consider the “Tennessee Center for Policy Research,” which roughly no one had heard of before this, a legitimate group. It’s run by a long-time right-wing attack hack, and its only registered address is a P.O. box. Why is everyone in the media taking what it says about Gore’s electricity use at face value?
    Gore’s electricity company has no record of being contacted about his bills.
    The “average” home electricity use quoted by TCPR is a national average that includes apartments and mobile homes. In Gore’s climatic zone, the East South Central (Dept. of Energy PDF), the average is much higher, thanks to hot, humid summers and cold winters. Within that zone, Gore’s usage is three (not 20) times average, and his per-square-foot usage is squarely average. (More here.)
    The Gores are not an average family. He’s an ex-VP with special security arrangements, and has live-in security staff. He and his wife both work on their many business and charitable undertakings out of their house, so they have space for offices and office staff. All that would be tough to cram in an average size house.
    Gore buys the maximum allowable green electricity from the program offered by his utility.
    Most of the electricity in TN comes from hydro and nuclear, and so doesn’t generate all that much CO2 anyway.
    The larger point, which probably won’t work well as a cable-show soundbite but is nonetheless true, is that Gore has done heroic work making global warming a top issue for governments the world over. He has prompted more individual and collective action on this issue than anyone else alive. The changes he has wrought outweigh his personal carbon emissions by many orders of magnitude.

    They know Gore’s message is winning. They know they are losing. Even if they’re successful in tarnishing Gore, it won’t change that.

  • greg

    I think you’re more optimistic than I, Big A, but good for you, for trying. The issue here has nothing to do with Gore or electricity or even his movie, just that certain science threatens conservative interest and therefore it’s verboten. Hence, our Bookworm (pathetically) adheres to her received conservative politics.

  • Marguerite

    I can’t stop laughing that the left who eschew orthodox religion are now into purchasing indulgences to asuage their consciences as they find ways NOT to give up THEIR goodies. Al Gore is as big a hypocrite as Jimmey Carter is a liar.

    I’ll bet it’s probably more likely that we’re entering a new ice age and the hysteria on the left is to get legislation enacted and ‘treaties’ signed to fund their hate-America world-wide redistribution of our wealth programs before Washington D.C. ices over.

    I figure my federal taxes feed, clothe, medicate, liberate, educate the world. This doesn’t even figure in my weekly volunteer hours at two local humanitarian aid agencies – one of which sends medical supplies to 100 countries – and my church.

    I have had a fabulous Ford Explorer since 1994, and have kept and driven all of the cars I have owned since 1964 for as long as they run. The safety of my family is the #1 consideration.

    So I figure that the world owes me a Hummer every 10 years -loaded! And it will be a bargain.

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    Clever of you, BigAl, to miss my point. As you’ll notice, I ended up not going on too much about AlBore’s excessive usage. (And don’t give me the stuff about he needs more because he lives in a hot climate. He doesn’t have to live in a 10,000 sq. foot house, nor does he need to own three of them. Live small, Al, live small.) What I went on about his Al’s habit o paying others to do what he won’t to himself: namely, live small. This isn’t an option available to the average person from whom he’s demanding a sacrifice. Gore himself isn’t making any sacrifice at all, and that’s not kosher (speaking of hogs).

  • Kurt

    Again…the debate over the science of GW is unnecessary. The adherants have sewed up up rather nicely and cast everyone opposed as ‘deniers’.

    Even Gore’s hypocrisy is not necesarily a mark on the man.

    What it does however, is further the idea that somehow we’re going to consume our way out of this mess. A little like taking up smoking, because tobacco companies are forced to fund anti-smoking campaigns…and I’m against smoking.

    Gore’s ‘donation’ to alternative energy research is laudable…but just as his donations are supposed to offset his consumption…so does his consumption offset his donations. His local utility still has to burn x tons of coal to power his house. Even if TN has a lot of power from renewable or nuclear sources…TN’s participation in the national grid means that their ‘clean’ product has to be averaged across the nation…otherwise how can customers of coal plants offset their carbon? Cynically…will global climate change effect rain patterns in the Tennessee Valley…and therefore alter the amount of water available to generate power?

    Since the fleecing of eco-consumers is in it’s infancy…there isn’t much regulation yet. Can I plant trees and ‘sell’ the carbon credit to someone? No? Says who? Right now the whole things seems like some sort of accounting shell game. Is there any audit of these credits being performed?

    You want to make an immediate impact on carbon output? QUIT BURNING FOSSIL FUELS!!! Now. Cut your consumption. Gore, as a huge consumer, can afford to cut back more than most of us. But, instead, he comes up with this rediculous offset idea.

    Whether Gore’s idea is ‘winning’ or not is immaterial if people don’t cut back. As long as folks feel they can continue as before and simply ‘purchase’ immunity, nothing much will be accomplished.

    It is unfortunate that this recent flap further clouds the real issue…which isn’t if a person is a ‘believer’ or not…but what they are actually doing about it (other than bloviating, that is).

    And…excusing Gore because of his other laudable efforts is sorta like excusing the Catholic Church from diddling little boys (and covering it up)because they feed poor people in 3rd world countries.

    The environmental issue is all the left realy has left…and it is a pretty good one for them. They can accuse the right wing all day and not really do anything themselves but recycle beer cans, replace a few light bulbs, and maybe buy a Prius. In other words…they can be on the right side of the debate by just being a ‘believer’, rather than actually doing anything. I doubt there is a single utility in the country that is experiencing a reduction in demand. Nor is our appetite for gasoline decreasing.

    Organized religion might have a lot longer history of hypocrisy among it’s leader and followers…but the global warming crowd is off to a hell of a start.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com/ Don Quixote

    Greg & BigAl,

    Your article says, “It’s nice to see the conservative media taking the message of conservation and energy efficiency seriously. Hopefully they will hold their own leaders and readers to the same high standards.” We do. But the standards are not about energy consumption; they are about hypocrisy. And Gore’s hypocrisy in this matter is extraordinary.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Clever of you, BigAl, to miss my point.

    You’re always so kind, Book.

    And don’t give me the stuff about he needs more because he lives in a hot climate. He doesn’t have to live in a 10,000 sq. foot house, nor does he need to own three of them. Live small, Al, live small.)

    he didn’t even have solar panels until recently.

    You read Laer’s post on this same subject right, cause he certainly blasts Gore with the facts.

    http://cheatseekingmissiles.blogspot.com/2007/02/gores-math-apparently-stuck-in-lockbox.html

    Let’s see. Gore’s “carbon footprint” for electricity use at home is $1,200 a month for the electron juice the clan burns each month. For that, he buys $432 in credits — $768 short each month.

    Well, that’s $768 short each month since November. Before that, he was $1,200 short each month. And that’s just for electricity; we’re not even talking about natural gas, gasoline or jet fuel yet.

    Warmies say conservatives don’t understand the concept of carbon neutrality. I say they don’t understand the concept of math — and here I thought math was at the core of global warming modeling.

    Coincidentally, a day after An Inconvenient Truth won its Oscar, Netflix delivered the same film to us.

    No Firefly?

    We watched it last night. Or rather, I should say, I attempted to watch it.

    There must be boat loads of other movies you would much more enjoy watching, Book. Band of Brothers, recap?

    after eying his endless graphs, I did exactly what I used to do in college under the same circumstances: I fell asleep.

    Now that is funny.

    (Probably caused by carbon emissions from burning dried cow dung.)

    Whale’s oil, Book, don’t forget about the poor whales.

  • greg

    Don, Don, Don, the Borg’s Gore critique relates to a supposed ethical disparity between the values promoted by his movie and the energy used by his house. The absence of a disparity deflates the Borg’s — and your — comments.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com/ Don Quixote

    Greg, Greg, Greg, you might have a point if there were no disparity. But even your own analysis puts the disparity at three to one.

    Besides, you’re dealing (albeit ineffectually) with the easy issue. What about Bookworm’s more interesting issue of the fact that, by Gore’s analysis, rich men get to buy their way out of social responsibility in ways poor men can’t?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    The enlightened always are superior to the masses.

  • rockdalian

    With Al spending as much for energy as I do in a year, please let me know how I can sell Al my carbon credits. Now thats information I can use.

  • Oldflyer

    BigAl and Greg. Nice that you shared those talking points from the Huffington Post. (Huffington Post, are you serious? Do Bookworm visitors actually read that drivel?) But, funny that I have not seen these particular arguments and denials advanced strongly in the main stream media by AlGore’s mouth pieces. Surely they knew immediately if false usage data were being published? Why didn’t they set the record straight? I mostly heard quite a bit about phony carbon credits and FUTURE energy conservation improvements.

    I love the point stressed in AlGore’s defense mantra that the power he uses is produced by hydro-electric plants. We are to surmise, I suppose, that means it is ok to be an energy hog. Would everyone else in the TVA area be justified in consuming at the same rate–assuming of course they were multi-millionaires? How about the folks around, say a nuclear power-plant; do they get a free pass also? Should we all move to Tennesse so that we can use all of the electricity our greedy hearts desire? (Question: did Sen Gore the senior have anything to do with the TVA happening in his backyard?”

    I also love the ploy of blaming high usage on the Secret Service. Makes me wonder, again, if we should really think seriously about whether ex-VPs really need, or are entitled to, life long time taxpayer funded security details.

    Parenthetically, do we really need to fly Pelosi 1 across the country at tax-payers’ expense? But, that is a different question.

    Next we will hear that the private jets AlGore toots around in are “solar powered”.

    But hey, if you come up with any more amusing talking points, please pass them along.

    Finally, it is hilarious for someone with the moniker BigAl to be here defending original BigAl. Or is that you?

  • greg

    big men have big houses. Is there something interesting in that, Don Q? Of course not. What’s interesting is that you and Booklet — who profess conservative values, rather than mere alliance with the borg — remain obdurate to the market-driven freedom of offset purchases. Why, Don Q, do you demand of Gore — or anyone — that they make the same choice as you, when considering the tradeoffs between energy efficiency and the purchase of an “allowance?” Or more to the point, why would you deny that that opportunity to make an economic choice is open to the rich (and their higher energy usage) as well as to the poor (who perhaps engage in a specialized activity that warrants their considering purchasing an offset)? Contrary to your and Booklet’s assertion, there is no hypocrisy in participating in a free market.

  • Oldflyer

    Greg, you are kidding, right? Of course there is no hypocrisy; unless you make it your life’s work to go around the world hectoring other people about how they live their lives.

    Ralph Nader had sense enough to drive a battered old compact car (polluter though it was(), and wear rumpled suits when he was publicy badgering people. Of course, being just as hypocritical as anyone else, he kept his personal wealth and real life style pretty well hidden.

    I am surprised that you even mention off-set purchases. That is the most insultingly transparent scam in a long time. Never mind the rather basic logic that buying off-sets does not reduce emissions whatsoever, I saw a figure that something like $136 of off-sets bought absolution for a private jet flight to Davos.

    Greg, you just need to try to do better here if you want to be taken seriously.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Off-sets are just political bribes. It is no sacrifice, because it is doing one or another company a favor, which big business pays back to the politicians.

    Greg doesn’t want to be taken seriously, he might have to join the Borg if he does.

  • Zhombre

    Take Greg seriously? Naaaaaah! He’s one of the lefty borg. Talks like one. His approach to the language seems mimetic. He used the adverb “bellicosely” in one post, a word nobody uses unless they have a speech impediment and are referring to the Hungarian actor who played Dracula in the old movies.

  • Zhombre

    I’m curious why Greggy seems to take such pleasure in attacking BW. Issues with assertive women perhaps?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    No, like all people on the Left, they beat up on those who tolerate them. (Bush) Why go for the hard targets?

  • greg

    For those who are unaware of Z-ray’s status, his writing has received regional acclaim, along with the expected mixed review (the most unfortunate of which, in my opinion, was the reviewer who labeled his work “boring”). In addition, my writing fascinates him, for he can seldom post on anything else. I’m sure you can imagine how pleased I am to have a reader who hangs onto — and recalls — my every word (see his post above), but I must coach you, Z-ray. It is the writer’s job — and you are a writer — to write. Really, it’s that simple. You, language, a medium and an audience. Bind them to you the way I’ve bound you to me.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Greg, are you under the impression that you are literate?

  • Mike

    Gore Buys “Carbon Offsets” From His Own Company
    H/T http://www.sweetness-light.com/
    Nothing like trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes only to find the wool has holes in it.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Why wouldn’t he buy it from his own company? It is just a deal, and politicians are masters of the Deal.

    Although I had thought Gore smart enough to at least setup some shell companies and proxies… buying direct? Come on, that has got to be dumb, even for Gore.

    Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe . . .

    Doesn’t that like sort of mean Gore makes more money? You know, like when you invest in loans by buying a block of them, then the people with those loans owe you money.

  • Zhombre

    Well, Greg, I’m always on the look out for material I can use. People fascinate me. Even odd people. Words fascinate me too. And their misuse.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com/ Don Quixote

    Hi Greg,

    What Oldflier said in his first sentence answers you completely. Game, set, match.

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    Re 17: Zhombre, I burst out laughing when I read that comment. That’s just wonderful word play.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    BigA and greg reminds me of Hannity and Colmes.