Politics & Policy

Gore Electric

Environmental crusader, serial killer of polar bears.

When Al Gore spoke on climate change last week at the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall downtown, the free-market group Americans for Prosperity was there. They brought their camera to confront the many Gore fans who pulled up in air-conditioned taxi cabs and ask them why they were killing the earth. They had failed to walk, bike, or take public transportation, despite the recommendation printed on their tickets. (One argued that taxis are public transportation.)

Tipper, Al, and Karenna Gore did not take cabs — they had an SUV and two Lincoln Town Cars in their caravan, one of which idled outside the DAR with its air conditioner running during Gore’s presentation.

Last year, one environmentalist estimated that it would take 100,000 new trees just to offset the energy consumption of Al Gore’s Live Earth concert series. And if Gore’s public events don’t emit enough carbon, don’t worry; he’s doing his part at the local level as well. His home consumption of electricity climbed by ten percent this year — he used 213,210 kWH over the last 12 months, as revealed by a public-records request by the Tennessee Center for Public Policy. For perspective, my roommate and I together consumed 6,826 kWH during the same period. If my personal electrical use drowned a polar bear, the Gore family killed 62.

When I went to the website of An Inconvenient Truth to estimate Gore’s carbon footprint, its carbon calculator would not let me enter a monthly electrical bill of more than $500 (Gore’s is closer to $1,400). I had to go here instead to calculate that Gore’s electricity use alone produces ten times the carbon emissions of the average American’s entire lifestyle.

Gore has defended his high electricity consumption and use of private jets by pointing to carbon offsets he purchases and fees he pays to encourage production of “green” power.

But there is no number of carbon credits that Gore could buy to make his lifestyle, as environmentalists say, “sustainable.” The green group Forest Guardians estimates (PDF) that if all Americans plant three hectares’ worth of trees in order to offset their lifetime emissions, we will need to plant new trees on about 90 percent of the nation’s land mass without disrupting existing trees. This is impossible, but if all 300 million Americans lived as Al Gore does, the entire earth’s arable area would not hold enough trees — and don’t forget that there are another six billion people on earth. This is why Forest Guardians warns that “tree planting can never solve the problem of global warming,” even though they have a carbon-offset program of their own.

Instead, because we desire the comfortable lifestyle that electricity can provide, regardless of its purported consequences, Gore and others — notably Democrats in Congress but also some Republicans — hope to motivate us to emit less carbon by making energy too expensive. They propose to do this through a carbon tax or mandatory purchase of carbon credits.

Does this make Gore an environmental hypocrite? Maybe. But Gore is only proving that he is human. Like everyone else, he likes to be comfortable. He is demonstrating that, for those who are neither rich nor supernaturally adept at forestry, the lifestyle he wants to force upon the nation is neither desirable nor practical.

 – David Freddoso is an NRO staff reporter.

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