Political cartoonist A.F. Branco had a very funny illustration a few days ago:
The reason this made me chuckle is because it reminds me of the behavior of that icon of the green movement, Al Gore, whose personal carbon footprint dwarfs whole towns and whose predilection for private jets is the butt of many jokes.
Gore’s environmental hypocrisy is well-documented. Criticism of the former vice president’s lifestyle goes back over a decade. A 2007 ABC article entitled “Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’? – A $30,000 Utility Bill” shocked supporters and critics alike.
“If this were any other person with $30,000-a-year in utility bills, I wouldn’t care,” said the president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research at the time. “But he tells other people how to live and he’s not following his own rules … he is not living the lifestyle that he advocates.”
Hilariously, the left sees attacks on Gore’s hypocrisy as unfounded. “I think what you’re seeing here is the last gasp of the global warming skeptics,” scoffed a former Gore adviser in response to criticism. “They’ve completely lost the debate on the issue so now they’re just attacking their most effective opponent.”
Most effective opponent? Really? Can’t you do any better than Gore as a spokesman for the green movement? People aren’t (necessarily) criticizing Gore because they’re climate change deniers; they’re legitimately criticizing him because he’s a hypocrite of the first order.
“While warning of the dire consequences if the rest of us don’t urgently dial back our energy consumption, Gore has not made those same sacrifices himself,” observes the Daily Signal.
Supporters will hastily assure us Gore’s 10,000 square foot home is “green” because he buys “carbon offsets.” How nice to know he’s excused from even pretending to follow his own advice because he’s rich enough to pay someone who claims they’re planting trees in Namibia.
Even environmentalists are skeptical about carbon offsets, particularly when Gore himself owns a stake in the carbon-offset businesses. Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, argued that offsets were “worse than doing nothing.” “It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth,” he wrote. He argues that if you want to cut CO2 emissions, do it yourself. Don’t pay someone else to (supposedly) do it for you.
Which is why I chuckled when I came across this little gem: “To win, the Green Movement needs to understand leverage, not just footprints..”
Apparently, “leverage” in green parlance is the amount of political clout someone has and therefore the degree to which they can influence government policies to force citizens to adopt a green lifestyle. And so, because Al Gore is a Big Name in the environmental movement, his personal carbon footprint not only doesn’t matter, his supporters claim, it shouldn’t matter.
All this culminates in an article of breathtaking audacity entitled “Al Gore’s carbon footprint doesn’t matter.” The author calls accusations of Gore’s hypocrisy “deceitful faux-populism” and claims “the real hypocrites here are the purveyors of it” because “it’s in their interest to try to undermine one of the most effective advocates of aggressive climate action.”
The gist of the left’s linguistic gymnastics is Gore’s carbon footprint is immaterial. “Climate change advocates who don’t live a carbon-neutral lifestyle aren’t hypocrites because, for the most part, they’re not asking you to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle. They’re asking governments, utilities, energy companies, and large corporations to increase their use of renewable energy so that you can continue to live your life as you please, without contributing to global warming.”
There’s that “leverage” again. This is the best the left can do to justify Gore’s lifestyle? Sorry, you can dress Gore up in fine green linen all you want, but he’s still a hypocrite.
The reason Gore’s hypocrisy ticks me off is because my husband and I have spent many years greening our lifestyle (for details, click here). Yet we’re told our efforts are useless because we object to Gore’s “leverage,” which forces others to live as he says we should. Perhaps Mr. Gore should come stay with us for a few months and learn what a truly low-impact lifestyle looks like.
This is why Gore, as a spokesman for the green movement, is a horrible choice. He can preach all he wants, but why should we believe him when he refuses to practice what he preaches?
Examples abound about Gore’s refusal to live green (think Earth Hour). Environmentalists ripped Prince Charles for shipping bottled water around the world, yet we heard crickets when Gore sold his struggling liberal cable network, Current TV, to Mideast oil and gas interests with a personal payout of $100 million for himself.
Later, Gore slammed “the deniers of the climate crisis, quite a few of them paid by the large fossil fuel polluters” while inconveniently not mentioning his personal profit from selling his cable network to Mideast oil and gas interests. In fact, Al Gore is on his way to becoming the world’s first carbon billionaire. Clearly he’s in it for the money, not for the lifestyle.
But we’re still supposed to listen to Gore because he is “without a doubt the best global warming communicator. … He’s one of the best communicators on the left, in general.”
Oh he’s communicating, all right, by using his middle finger. Gore is the ultimate in greenwashing: Do what I say, not what I do.
Is it too much to ask that climate change’s most outspoken representative practice what he preaches? Why is this kind of hypocrisy so hard for the left to grasp?
This column is not arguing whether or not man-made climate change is real. That’s too big, too complicated and too nuanced a subject for a simple yes-or-no answer, and certainly too much for a 1,000-word column.
But one thing is certain: If you’re a believer, if you’re a preacher on the subject, you’d darn well better walk the walk as well as talk the talk. I don’t care how rich and powerful you are; leverage should be completely tied to footprint. Otherwise you’re a hypocrite, no matter how much “leverage” you have.
“What will it take to get conservative Republicans to address climate change?” wailed this headline. Environmentalists often ask, “How can we better ‘sell’ the green movement? How can we engage the cooperation of liberals and conservatives alike?”
Here’s a thought: Quit looking to a flaming hypocrite as your policy spokesman.