Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Most surprisingly (or maybe not) is the way a number of key people are so busy telling us how to live “green” and “reduce our carbon foot prints”, whilst they live lifestyles that make theirs enormous. A few examples follow:

Al Gore: You would expect, given his level of deep concern for our planet that he would be amongst the cleanest and greenest of them all, yet all is not as it seems.
In a story by reporter Steven Milloy for Fox News in March 2007, he found:

At the end of Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” viewers are asked, “Are you ready to change the way you live”? Following this line of thinking, the movie’s web site suggests many ways that you can “reduce your impact at home,” including using less heating and air conditioning, buying expensive fluorescent light bulbs, using less hot water, using a clothesline rather than a dryer, carpooling, flying less and buying cost-inefficient hybrid cars.

Given that Gore calls the fight against global warming a “moral imperative” in the movie, you might reasonably think that he practices what his movie’s web site preaches. But you’d be wrong.

…the Tennessee Center for Policy Research reported that Gore’s Nashville mansion consumed more than 20 times the electricity than the national average. Last August, the Gore mansion burned more than twice the electricity in a single month as the average American family uses in an entire year. Gore’s heated pool house alone uses more than $500 in electricity every

A Gore spokesman tried to deflect the charges stating that the Gores “purchase offsets for their carbon emissions to bring their carbon footprint down to zero.” Gore himself has been very public about this approach to carbon neutrality, but not only is this claim not exactly true, it’s quite meaningless in terms of global warming.

First, Al Gore doesn’t purchase carbon offsets out of his own pocket and the actual economic cost, if any, to him is unknown.

The actual offset purchaser is a London-based investment firm, Generation Investment Management (GIM), that Al Gore co-founded with former Goldman Sachs executive David Blood and others in 2004.

GIM supposedly purchases carbon offsets for all 23 of its employees to cover their personal energy use, according to a March 7 report. These offsets, then, would be provided to Gore more as an employee benefit, thus requiring very little sacrifice on his or his family's part.
Trading and or purchasing carbon offsets is an emerging business, and CNS News is also pursuing an investigative story into whether Gore or his company are making money from these offsets. It’s quite possible, for example, that GIM’s offsets actually produce financial benefits for the Gores either through tax deductions or even business profits.

…Financial matters aside, what are the environmental impacts of Gore’s offsets?

I was surprised to find that even a leading advocate of carbon offsets acknowledge that they have no impact on global climate.

Instead, they merely: (1) demonstrate commitment to taking action on climate change; (2) add an economic component to climate change; (3) help engage and educate the public; and (4) may provide local social and environmental benefits that help to encourage the use of low-carbon technologies.

The real design behind offsetting, then, is to impact the public debate, not to avert the dreaded global warming.

“…Are you ready to change the way you live?” Gore literally meant you – and only you.

But Al Gore is far from alone in his “do as I say not as I do” actions. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia has long been a strong advocate of action on Climate Change, symbolically ratifying the Kyoto Protocol as one of the first actions of his administration. But he too has a Carbon Footprint that is enormous compared to the average citizen that he wishes to impose a “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme” upon to reduce their carbon footprints.

Ben Packham of Melbourne’s Herald Sun investigated PM Rudd’s carbon footprint in December of 2008, and this is what he found:

The Lodge and Kirribilli House emitted 272 tonnes of carbon in just nine months.

It's about 21 times more than an average household, which emits about 14 tonnes a year.

The PM's hectic travel schedule also contributes to his huge carbon footprint. If he travelled on a commercial carrier, he would have pumped out 90 tonnes of carbon by flying 264,764km this year.

But he flies on an RAAF Boeing 737 with an entourage of advisers, lifting his travel emissions to an estimated 11,700 tonnes or more.

The Rudd family's household emissions include one tonne of wood burned in The Lodge's open fires, and about 240,000 kilowatt hours of electricity at both residences.

They also used 388,000 mega joules of gas for hot water, heating and cooking.

The PM would have to plant 2205 trees to offset his annual household emissions.

Now whilst no one would expect their Prime Minister to travel in the ‘cattle class’ section of a Budget airline carrier, or not to have a slightly elevated usage of electricity, etc. To have racked up more than 21 times the average household annual usage in just nine months is more than a little excessive. It could strongly be argued that at least some of the numerous overseas trips he undertook in his first 12 months could have been just as successfully conducted by teleconferencing. Especially for a Prime Minister who is intent on showing a leadership to the rest of the world on this issue. Instead he seems to be showing a (not so) clean pair of jet trails and approximately 5,440,000 “black balloons” (each worth 50 grams of greenhouse gas) in nine months as per the Victorian/NSW State Government’s television campaigns to get people to reduce their Emissions (not counting his extensive travel).

The third example I wish to show is one of the usual high profile “stars” of stage or screen that constantly are telling the press and their fans that “the earth is in great peril” and that “we” must do more to protect it, etc. One of these leading environmental advocates is
English Rockstar “Sting” (a.k.a. Gordon Sumner) of 80’s rock band “The Police” fame as well as numerous movie appearances:

“We can’t live here and be happy with less/With so many riches, so many souls/Everything we see that we want to possess”,Sting sang, in one emotive passage.

It was a theme to which he returned at this summer’s Live Earth climate change concert… At one point in the performance, Sting pledged to the audience that he would “work to reduce” his carbon footprint in the future.

A commendable objective - but what Sting didn’t mention was how much larger his carbon footprint is than just about anyone else’s…

Earlier this year, a glimpse into Sting’s daily routine at (his Wiltshire) mansion was provided by Jane Martin, 42, a cook who took the rock star and his wife Trudie Styler to an employment tribunal which awarded her £24,944 following her “shameful” dismissal from her job…

The cook added that she had often been required to make an expensive rail and taxi journey between London and Salisbury just to prepare a soup and salad meal for the family, even though they also kept two housekeepers, two nannies and a butler on the premises

This same paragon of self-denying minimalism who reminds us all not to squander our resources also owns a three-storey mansion in Highgate, North London, a townhouse in Westminster and what’s described as a workman’s cottage in the Lake District. He also maintains a beach house in Malibu, California, and a 600-acre estate in Tuscany

Early in his career, he expressed the opinion that “I just don’t agree with (procreation) any more… We have too many people we’re not the most important thing on the planet, and until we realise that, we’re in deep s***.”

How ironic then that Sting has six children, from two wives, ranging in age from 30 to 11.
There’s nothing wrong with that - he’s long since earned the right to live just as he likes - but, taken as a whole, it would seem to suggest that Sting’s campaign against Western excess might not always be a priority in his own day-to-day life.

So the next time you here someone preach that you are responsible and that you cut your carbon footprint, ask yourself if they are doing the same!

But the ones that demand such sacrifices from us see no problem with their own hypocrisy as can be seen in this article from the U.K. Guardian which states in it's conclusion:

The charge of hypocrisy against environmentalists may also be illegitimate as well as irrelevant. In my view, Gore was right to rack up thousands of air miles in his campaign to raise awareness of climate change: the political shift he has helped to engineer, particularly in America, has been truly profound, and is one of the few real causes for optimism on climate change today. If he had stayed at home in Tennessee with the lights and heating off, wearing organic woolly jumpers and feeling generally good about himself, we would have a lot further to travel in terms of awareness-raising than we do now. Being a purist may be comforting, but it is unlikely to change the world.

So remember it is you and only who must make the sacrifices, but if you serve "the cause" then you are excused being a hypocrite as the rules you wish to employ no longer apply to you.

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