So the big news this morning is how much Al Gore uses in electricity and natural gas at his suburban Nashville home… the pool house (which has its own meters) uses more natural gas keeping Al and Tipper’s swimming pool all toasty than the main house uses. Of course, anyone who’s ever had their own pool knows that heating it is a huge energy suck ’cause you end up heating the atmosphere and it’s effectively a total-loss system… Anyway, the Gores used somewhere on the far side of 20 times what the average American household uses in terms of energy during both 2005 and 2006. Keep in mind that all their kids are adults and have moved out of the house…
(Added on edit: Saw another article (AP sourced, posted to ABCNews.com) that states that the Gore house, which houses two adults, Al and Tipper, and no kids, has about 10,000 square feet of interior space, and they also have homes in Carthage, TN, about 50 miles east of Nashville — I can’t call that “suburban Nashville” at all, and in the Washington, D.C., area. For reference on the other end of the living space scale, my wife and I live in a house that’s officially listed at 876 square feet including the one-car attached garage and have a 200 square foot (unheated, un-air-conditioned, unlit) rented storage locker off-site to house stuff that wouldn’t fit in the house when we combined households, including one of my cars. I suspect far more two-person households live in space far closer to what we have than what the Gores have. Which is more eco-friendly? Based on energy consumption, I’d have to say we are. Our natural gas and electric bills for 2006 were about 5% of what the Gores had at their main residence, and the per-unit cost for energy is higher in Michigan than in Tennessee. Same number of people living there.)
The Gore camp responded with a litany of excuses, including “Well, they both work at home” (so does my wife, but she doesn’t use $15,000 worth of electric power each year, which would be Tipper’s half of the Gore’s bill), and how they’re signed on with the Green Power Initiative that buys electric power from renewable sources only (hydro — and tell me damming every river in sight isn’t an environmental nightmare — and wind — danger to birds), and how it’s an older house and they’re fixing it up and they’re looking to put up solar panels and they buy “carbon offset credits” (WTF? Al pays to scrap old cars so he can keep his pool at 80 degrees all winter?) so they can claim to be “carbon neutral” and… it sounded like a real whine from the spokesdroid.
Well, that got me thinking. Al Gore isn’t one of my favorite people in the world, not since he proclaimed in his book EARTH IN THE BALANCE that the private automobile (which is the industry that pays my bills, thanks) is the biggest threat to national security now that the Cold War is over, and he called for the forced removal of internal-combustion engines from the world.
Which would, incidentally, also make a lot of electric power generation, most rail and ship transport, and all air travel pretty much impossible.
Al and Tipper didn’t fly to and from LA for the Oscars on a commercial flight. No, they flew on a private jet. Just the out leg of that trip spit out more carbon dioxide than a year’s operation of my F350 turbodiesel, and on a per-person basis the numbers aren’t much better. Commercial airliners, incidentally, are very carbon-friendly on a per-person basis by virtue of carrying 100+ people (for a “regular” plane, not a regional jet).
Meanwhile, the stars arrived at the red carpet via “eco-friendly” cars like Toyota Priuses (Prii?), some modified to be “plug-in” hybrids, Tesla electric roadsters (an electric Lotus Elise, basically, and no, I can’t see how one of those elaborate Oscar dresses would’ve fit in a tiny two-seat roadster where your butt is only about 10 inches off the ground, never mind the ingress/egress of said starlet without the use of a crane), and some others. The thing is, though, is that their eco-drive was basically around the block from the limo park to the front of the Kodak Theater. Aside from Ed Bagley, Jr., who no doubt drove his Toyota RAV4-EV electric from his home all the way there, most of the stars did the usual limo ride except for the (visible to cameras) last block.
Hypocrites. Every single bloody one of them (except Ed Bagley, Jr., who, despite being nuttier than a fruitcake, actually goes to considerable — some might say insane — levels to live the way he talks about, and I have to respect that). Limos rented at the drop of a hat. Mercedes (who don’t make a hybrid, by the way…). Rolls-Royce. Bentley. Ferrari. Lamborghini. Big, manicured, fertilized, irrigated lawns and shrubbery in a desert environment. Heated pools open to the atmosphere. Giant, oversized houses with heat and air conditioning and lots more space than one or two people really need. Private jets (Hello, Travolta, how much forest do you have to plant to offset the carbon footprint of your 707 and 727 alone?). Second, third, fourth homes just as obscene as the first one, but somewhere else in the world.
Sorry, but until these folks actually start living the way they’re all preaching (and it *is* preaching) all us little people must live, I’m going to continue to call them hypocrites.
And remember, folks, unless you stop breathing, you have a “carbon footprint” regardless of anything else you may do. Hell, even when you stop breathing, you will continue to have a carbon footprint until your body finishes decomposing.