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Gore, Gored



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Walter Russell Mead takes a run at the Harold Camping of Global Warming fundamentalism. The whole piece is well worth reading, in particular, perhaps this:

Al Gore can consume more carbon than whole villages in the developing world.  He can consume more electricity than most African schools, incur more carbon debt with one trip in a private plane than most of the earth’s toiling billions will pile up in a lifetime — and he doesn’t worry.  A father of four, he can lecture the world on the perils of overpopulation.  Surely, skeptics reason, if the peril were as great as he says and he cares about it as much as he claims, Gore’s sense of civic duty would call him to set an example of conspicuous non-consumption.  This general sleeps in a mansion, and lectures the soldiers because they want tents.

 

What this tells the skeptics is that Vice President Gore doesn’t really believe the gospel he proclaims.  That profits from his environmental advocacy enable his affluent lifestyle only deepens their skepticism of the messenger and therefore of the message.  And when they see that the rest of the environmental movement accepts this flagrant contradiction, they conclude, naturally enough, that the other green leaders aren’t as worried as they claim to be.  Al Gore’s lifestyle is a test case for the credibility of his gospel — and it fails. The tolerance of Al Gore’s lifestyle by the environmental leadership is a further test — and that test, too, the greens fail.

 

The average citizen is all too likely to conclude that if Mr. Gore can keep his lifestyle, the average American family can keep its SUV and incandescent bulbs.  If Gore can take a charter flight, I don’t have to take the bus.  If Gore can have many mansions, I can use the old fashioned kind of shower heads that actually clean and toilets that actually flush.  Al Gore looks to the average American the way American greens look to poor people in the third world: hypocritically demanding that others accept permanently lower standards of living than those the activists propose for themselves.

 

There are gospels that can be preached by the comfortable and the well fed.  But radical environmentalism is not one of them.  If you want to be Savonarola, you must don the hair shirt.  If you want a public bonfire of the vanities, you must sleep on an iron cot and throw your own cherished treasures into the flame.

 

All true. On the other hand, if forced to opt between the two, I prefer Elmer Gantry to Savonarola. Hypocrites are, on the whole, less of a menace than ascetics. And given the choice between a cynic and a fanatic, well…

 

Meanwhile, from the WSJ:

 

The question for the rest of us is whether we are serious about domestic energy production. All forms of energy have risks and environmental costs, not least wind (noise and dead birds and bats) and solar (vast expanses of land). Yet renewables are nowhere close to supplying enough energy, even with large subsidies, to maintain America’s standard of living. The shale gas and oil boom is the result of U.S. business innovation and risk-taking. If we let the fear of undocumented pollution kill this boom, we will deserve our fate as a second-class industrial power. 

 

True enough.



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