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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Greens, Rarely That Upset About the ‘Most Serious Environmental Sin’



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Lefty readers reacted to today’s post on Secretary of State John Kerry’s gargantuan CO2 emissions with their usual rage and ALL CAPS and profanities. To the extent they summoned an argument, it was this: “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!!!!! 111!!”

That’s really a separate argument. If you genuinely believe, as John Kerry claims, that climate change is “the greatest challenge of our generation” and “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” then air travel is a problem; the New York Times recently labeled it the “most serious environmental sin” for most people:

Though air travel emissions now account for only about 5 percent of warming, that fraction is projected to rise significantly, since the volume of air travel is increasing much faster than gains in flight fuel efficiency.

If you believe climate change is a real phenomenon driven by human activity that generates CO2, you have to be troubled by a self-professed environmentalist’s schedule of air travel that, in one week, generates as many carbon emissions as the average American does in seven months or so. You have to see the irony and moral complications if the aim of that trip is to urge others to reduce their carbon emissions.

But for some reason, self-proclaimed environmentalists never seem to get that upset about Democratic lawmakers who have large mansions with large electric bills, multiple luxury homes, fly around a lot and get driven around in SUVs. They can even make $100 million or so by selling their television networks to the Qatari government, which, of course, built its fortune on fossil fuels.

Instead, self-proclaimed environmentalists get much more upset at conservatives who point out those . . . inconvenient truths.

More inconvenient truths, from a op-ed I wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Whether the phenomenon is exaggerated or whatever the cause, the uncomfortable fact is that very few climate scientists believe that the process is significantly reversible, and certainly not by unilateral U.S. action. As the Heartland Institute’s James Taylor noted in Forbes, data released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year indicate that even if the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere immediately and completely eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, the growth in Chinese emissions alone would likely render this action moot within a decade.

Anyone who suggests that the climate will go back to “normal” — whatever that is — if Congress passes a certain bill or if you drive a different car is trying to sell you something. The current debate is mostly an excuse for those who make certain consumer choices (Priuses, reusable shopping bags, buying “carbon offsets”) to talk about how much more responsible and sensitive they are than others, and for those who choose differently to urge them to put a sock in it.

Greens fume about Americans who are skeptical about climate change, but they never look that hard at why people might think environmentalism was just an expensive pose.


Tags: John Kerry , Environmentalism , Air Travel


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