22 Jul 2008

Al Gore: Carbon-Free For Thee, But Not For Me

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Lorne Gunter, at the National Post, observes that it’s a case of “Do as Al says, not as Al does.”

On Thursday, former U. S. vice-president Al Gore delivered a major address calling on his country to abandon all fossil fuels within 10 years. By 2018, U. S. electricity and fuel should come entirely from “renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources,” he said. Tickets to the event encouraged attendees to “please use public transit, bicycling or other climate-friendly means” to reach the lecture hall.

So how did Mr. Gore and his retinue arrive? In two Lincoln Town Cars and a full-sized SUV that sat idling with the air conditioners blasting while the Gore party was inside.

It was 34 C (93.2 º F) in Washington. Al Gore can’t be expected to get into an overheated vehicle after he’s worked up a sweat telling others how to save the planet.

Remember, too, the Nobel prizewinning environmentalist lives in a Tennessee mansion that produces a carbon footprint 20 times that of the average American home. A sizeable chunk of his personal fortune comes from royalties on a zinc mine which had to be temporarily closed five years ago in part because the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled it one of the worst-polluting mine sites in America. Illegal toxins were frequently discharged into nearby rivers.

Mr. Gore’s Live Earth benefit concert last summer flew scores of rock bands to stages around the world in carbon-spewing private jets. To cover the emissions from his own frequent use of private jets, Mr. Gore set up a company that buys carbon offsets, so that in effect he is paying himself for his carbon indulgences, writing off the expense on one hand, while pocketing the proceeds on the other.

Apparently if the world is ever to reach the carbon-free future Mr. Gore dreams of, it will have to get there without Al’s help.

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