August 10, 2006

"For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself."

Do you expect him not to fly around in a private jet when he's promoting his global warming film? Do you expect him and Tipper to live in a house that's not 10,000 square feet? Well, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn't run any air conditioning.

Hey, speaking of air conditioning, did you know that all the people and machinery in the Mall of America generate so much heat that no heating system is needed there, even in the winter when it's less than zero degrees? I wonder how cold it needs to get outdoors before they get to shut off the air conditioning.


El Presidente said...

Extreme personal sacrifice is the duty of the proletariat.

KCFleming said...

I'm with Fidel, er, Raul, on this one. Whoever.

Al Gore's job, in addition to persoanlly defeating ManBearPig, is to dictate what we mere citizens must do.

Al is far too important to personally follow his diktats. That's for the little people.

Anonymous said...

Tipper doesn't mind Al Gaia Gore being the new consort of the earth goddess? I envision him wearing hemp loincloths and canvas sandals in the privacy of his energy guzzling estates and corporate jets.

tcd said...

Pogo, don't you know Al is serial about global warming.

Anonymous said...

Of course I don't expect Gore not to fly around in a private jet. There's no controlling legal authority telling him to stop.

joeone said...

What I find truly sad about this is that Al Gore has the financial resources to potentially live a more "carbon-neutral lifestyle." Unlike the rest of us poor smucks who struggle to make ends meet, taxi our children back and forth to their many adventures, seek recreation in the occasional carbon consuming road trip, blah, blah, blah.

How feasible is it really for the average person to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle? And, if we could, how much impact would it have, especially if we have to worry, for instance, about how coal China burns to maintain its overheated economy? Yikes.

High Desert Wanderer said...

The extreme personal sacrifice of the proletariat is a sacrifice that Mr. Gore is willing to make.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Never thought I'd defend AlBore but do any of you actually believe the utiity companies truly can divert "green energy" to those who ask and pay extra for it?

Yeah sure I can just picture the Homer Simpsonesque utility guy screwing that up plus I suspect its a feel-good type scam.

tiggeril said...

I guess he's not as serial as we thought.

Marghlar said...

AJ, I think the theory is that the utility buys an amount of power roughly equal to your usage, and then distributes it equally over the grid. Ergo, since energy usage is fungible, your own energy usage is offset by green energy purchases, and hence your usage is carbon neutral. Make sense?

As to whether they actually DO it or not, when you buy the credits, beats me. I don't trust my utility much at all.

On topic: I find it despicable that Mr. Gore, with all his resources, isn't doing more to deal with what is obviously a significant problem of which he is aware. He could easily afford to modify his hybrids to be full-electric at short range, but he doesn't seem to have done so. He could afford solar panels to offset his home use, but hasn't done so. Or he could just have a secretary call up the utility and buy some credits, but he doesn't do that. Apparently he finds it easier to talk the talk.

As someone who is pretty worried about the effects of carbon emissions, it bothers me that someone who is aware of the problem and able to contribute toward its solution is doing so little.

joeone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Laura Reynolds said...

To the extent this is a real problem (a topic for another time), the ability to deal with it starts with a reality check. Kyoto doesn't deal with China and India, Duh! Al Gore, like most Americans, likes his energy.

The fact that Al Gore is hypocritical is not a surprise.

I'm Full of Soup said...


Used the word "fungible" so he must be new around here..FYI- Ann does not allow cursing on her blog.

Telecomedian said...

I live in Arlington, Virginia and use Dominion Power, as they're the local provider. Dominions' Energy Choice program allows for competitive energy providers to contact prospective customers, but there's no guarantee that the competitors will contact these prospects. Nor does it guarantee that a competitor can deliver service to a given location. I'm not going to throw Al Gore under a bus for not having renewable energy sources servicing his home here as it simply may not be available yet.

Dominion's big green energy push is in North Carolina.

altoids1306 said...

For once, I actually agree with Tom Friedman - we need to raise taxes on gas. (Yep, you heard that right...even as a free-market conservative, I am pro-gas-tax.)

The externalities of oil are enormous - because of oil, we give money to Arab state, who in turn fund terrorism, which causes the US to spend massive amounts of money on defense and law enforcement. The true cost of oil is not reflected in the price at the pump.

If Al Gore were serious about global warming, he'd call for a $1.00/gallon gas tax.

knox said...

What is this "carbon neutral" crap. Moving money around does NOT eliminate the pollution you produce nor the oil you consume jetting around for photo ops.

We have just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tailspin.

Must be nice to know he has a choice of three homes he can retreat to when that happens. One of them is ten thousand square feet ...what an utter bullshitter.

joeone said...

OK, maybe I'm dense, but I don't get the increased gas tax argument. If the idea is that we'll finally consume less fuel if the price is high enough, I'm not convinced. The daily ebb and flow of our lives is built around the consumpton of oil/coal/natural gas (think cars, suburbs, exurbs, strip malls, asphalt, electricity). The only way to consume less is to have less to consume (Alas, no more oil) or to provide cheap viable alternatives. Or move back to the city and walk to work (or hop on that cool, if somewhat impractical, street car that Mayor Dave wants here in Madison).

David said...

Let a market economy dictate gas usage versus price. I am more worried about the effects of volcanic eruptions on global warming/cooling than I am about automobile emissions.

If the greens are so worried about global warming then let's get off coal in this country and start building nuclear plants.

In keeping with the hemp loin cloth theory of Gore, maybe he is trying to get the rest of us to live the lives of noble savages. We would read our news consisting of shadow stories by candle light on the back of our cave watching the hand puppet shadows of Gore fulfilling his responsibility under noblesse oblige!

joeone said...

David, nice allusion to Plato. If only I were a philosopher-king...

Wade Garrett said...

The fact that Al Gore flies around in a personal jet and so forth is a little unsavory to me.

Having said that, I think he's right about a lot of things. Some enormous percentage of suburban homes in the United States are bound by restrictive covenants against using clotheslines. So many suburbs sprung up when they were tax-incentivied and gas was eighty cents per gallon, and now are full of families that need to drive 30 miles each way to get to work. If we change some of those laws -- for instance if we strike down the restrictive covenants against clothslines in the way we struck down the ones prohibitting sale to various religious or racial groups, and if we gave people more of an incentive to live closer to work, and to take mass transit, then we would dramatically reduce our need.

Todd said...

Several of the comments in this thread remind me of something I've always suspected about proposed gas tax increases: you might get people to agree to a nickel or two here or there, but $1 a gallon more? No way. Putting aside the question of whether moneyed interests will go along, voters won't. Too many people have too much driving to do to swallow an increase like that.

It's like Social Security/Medicare reform that involves either dramatic cuts in benefits or raises in the retirement age; if we don't manage to do it before the great mass of boomers retires, we never will. If it gets to the point where that mass of people have to choose between cutting their own benefits or raising taxes on those still working (their own kids, in many cases) by steadily increasing, and eventually outlandish, percentages, I have no doubt which way they'll turn.

altoids1306 said...

Too many people have too much driving to do to swallow an increase like that.

That's the problem. We all agree that we should reduce dependence on oil as an energy source, but how? By buying less oil. If no one changes their habits, oil consumption will not decrease. We can talk about energy-efficency in appliances and industry, and things like that, but 2/3 of oil in the US is used in transportation.

If you can think of another way to change habits (car pooling, smaller cars, public transportation), let's hear it. But otherwise, it seems the only way is to bludgeon ourselves with a gas tax.

MadisonMan said...

Speaking as a bicycle commuter and a Prius owner, I'm all for the $1/gallon tax -- but wait, wouldn't that actually lower Wisconsin's gas tax? The key, of course, is to put those funds into something worthwhile -- public transit, for example, or better trains. Things that people can actually use instead of cars. Alas, the government would probably use the money to build more highways.

No politician will vote for an increased gas tax, however.

stephenb said...

Telecomedian: You may not be willing to throw Al Gore under the bus in Arlington, but I'm serviced by the same service provider as he is in Tennessee, and the service is available. He either A) just hasn't made the time to make the switch or B) doesn't think we're smart enough to realize he hasn't.

HalfCentTriChic said...

MadMan - here in Minny they've raised our taxes for that very thing - a nifty new 'Hiawatha Lightrail line' that doesn't help either my spouse or myself in either of our commutes to work or school. It does however, afford a great way for the gangbangers to get from downtown Minny to the MOA. Bus service? Please, I checked, and it would take over 1.5 hours for me to get to school in downtown Minny; I can drive there in 20 minutes, and I suspect, use less gas than one of the Met councils fine coaches.

Public transportation is a good thing, I used it when I lived in both Madison and Chicago, as well as Cleveland and NYC, but once a person goes outside a first/second ring 'burb, you're outta luck.

Algore is a perfect example of 'Do as I say, not as I do'.

knox said...

"incentives" >>>shudder<<<

Incentives in this context just mean ways for politicians--like Al Gore--to try to force you conform to their pet notions of correct behavior; of course, their own behavior is exempt--their money or political power allows them to conveniently circumvent the rules, taxes, or fees--excuse me, incentives--they craft for the rest of us.

Peter Hoh said...

The link to the Mall of America heating story isn't correct.

Peder said...

If the fate of the planet is in the balance is 'carbon neutral' really enough? Shouldn't he become 'carbon negative'? And I suppose we can expect to hear him supporting nuclear power soon, right?

LoafingOaf said...

Several of the comments in this thread remind me of something I've always suspected about proposed gas tax increases: you might get people to agree to a nickel or two here or there, but $1 a gallon more? No way. Putting aside the question of whether moneyed interests will go along, voters won't. Too many people have too much driving to do to swallow an increase like that.

They wouldn't have to spend more money in their driving if they bought a more efficient car and drove the speed limit. I know people are just being pathetic whiners about the increased gas prices because I see all those SUVs speeding at 85MPH on the freeways.

Bruce Hayden said...

No, I don't expect any better out of Al Gore than we are seeing here. There has always been a high level of hypocracy in politics, and that is how he was raised. How is this any different from the senior senator from Mass., whose only real adult job has been that Senate seat purchased by his father's money, and yet, since then, has "represented" the poor and working class in this country (often from the family compounds at Hyannis Port and Miami)?

The problem with raising taxes on carbon based fuels is that the impact would be very disporportionate. The Al Gores of this world would not be inconvienced in the least by it, because the added cost would be de minimis in comparison with his income and net worth, but it would severly impact mid to lower income families.

So, Gore can show up in five limos at Cannes for a showing of his film, and then get away with it by pointing out that he is carbon-neutral - having apparently purchased enough verified carbon reduction to compensate for the limos, but those less fortunate financially can't afford the luxury of being "carbon neutral".

nina said...

A law prof at the school where I teach once said -- "I don't vote. But I campaign hard for the person of my choice. In terms of getting the numbers, it's a better use of my time."

Al Gore has done more than you or me to get the country to think about how to address the problems of global warming. And I am absolutely certain that he has done more environmentally sustainable tasks, at the personal level, than others in government who somehow in the comments here have completely escaped criticism.

I used to work for a nonprofit. I earned one quarter of what lawyers were earning in private practice. But it was assumed that if I was to work on behalf of the poor, I, too, should take a pledge of poverty.

So, keep punching at Gore if you must. And then, for God's sake, turn off the damn airconditioning, take out the bike and quit blocking my way with the giant SUVs on the highway.

Marghlar said...

Bruce, the disproprotionate effect is why most thoughtful people proposing this solution (see, e.g. Posner's blog a few months back) also propose to offset its impact on the poor with targeted tax credits. That in effect makes the tax progressive, rather than flat, and helps to mitigate the effects on those who are hardest hit.

I doubt it has a chance in hell of passing, but it would be good policy.

Sean E said...

If you want to see the impact of $1/gallon fuel taxes, just look to Canada. There have to be two or three people in my office alone who bike or bus to work, and most drivers rarely drive faster than 70 mph in their SUVs. The contrast between us and you wasteful Americans is really quite shocking.

I'm sure a gas tax a certain level would have a noticeable impact, but I don't think a buck a gallon would do much.

I had no idea that there was carbon-trading market at a personal level. I must be in the wrong tax bracket.

Unknown said...

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the primary cause of global warming is not fossil fuel consumption or cow flatulence, but rather the collective contribution of hot air spewed forth by the anti-American, anti-consumption crowd.

This "you wasteful Americans" crap is as silly as the "starving children in Africa" guilt trip that some parents lay on their kids when they don't finish their dinner. Leaving a few green beans on your plate because you're full isn't going to do a darn thing good or bad to the poor kids in Somalia.

Shaming or taxing Americans into reducing fossil fuel consumption isn't going to do diddly squat in the long term. The far, far larger problem is the rise of fuel usage in developing countries. Who is the world's largest consumer of coal? Surprise! It's not the evil United States, it's China. A full 65% of China's energy usage comes from coal. Can't get any more carbon-unfriendly than that. China is also the world's second-largest oil consumer; and while they still lag far behind the U.S., their massively higher usage growth rate guarantees that they will eclipse us soon.

So do you really think that if I stop driving my SUV, it's going to somehow convince the Chinese not to continue ramping up their energy usage to suit their growing needs? Or would you simply prefer that they keep a large fraction of their citizens living in the stone age? Heck, they've already dismantled most of their rural health care infrastructure in the name of modernization, and rendered most of the older generation's pensions worthless. Let's just stop right there and things will be fine, right?

No. Any "solution" that ignores the rising energy needs of the world's population lacks any credibility.

What we need is an all-out search for clean, renewable sources of energy, and environmentally friendly methods of storage distribution. Hydrogen-based energy storage is a compelling option but the energy to create it has to come from somewhere, and somewhere clean, to be effective.

Is this realistic? Well, consider this. According to the DOE's International Energy Outlook 2006 (Google it), world energy consumption in the year 2030 is projected to be 722 quadrillion BTUs. If we got all this energy from oil, we would need about 118 billion barrels per day. In contrast, the Sun delivers over 2.6 million times times this much raw energy to the planet per day. (*) So yes, I think it's realistic to assume that we humans can figure out how to harness 0.00005% of that energy for our use in an environmentally sound manner. (In contrast, plant life uses about 1% of it.)

We just have to quit whining about those wasteful Americans and GIT 'ER DONE.

(* Source: here., but I had to do some unit conversions and other math to get the comparisons in line. I apologize in advance if I did the math wrong---it's my strong suit but I am not perfect.)

tcd said...

For those of you defending Gore, don't you think he should at least practice some of (if not all) what he preaches?

Great post!

knox said...

So, keep punching at Gore if you must. And then, for God's sake, turn off the damn airconditioning, take out the bike and quit blocking my way with the giant SUVs on the highway.

big difference: I'm not the one saying the planet's going to end in ten years if everybody doesn't do exactly as I say.

And as far as Gore generously "teaching" us, you don't have to do much reading to know that his take on global warming is not the only opinion on the matter.

steve said...

Hey everybody, lets blame the messenger! HE has a helicopter and HE runs his air dare he bring the science of global warming to the masses!

Even if you don't believe in global warming or just don't like Al, the same actions can be justified for different reasons (bike to work because it is a more relaxing and healthy commute, turn off the TV and AC and go outside because it is nice to be outside, buy a hybrid because $3.00 per gallon is too damn steep, etc.)

Americans want to do everything all at once and our society seems to move a little too fast for the planet to keep up.

Now pardon me, its 4:30 on a Friday and I have to pedal back home. Try not to run me over in your GMC OPEC XL while gabbing on the cell phone.

Jeff said...

Hey Steve, What MCG said.

altoids1306 said...

Anyone still reading this?

I don't think there's a need to get into eco-pissing contests. (For the record, I bike to work, I have no car, our AC is set to 82, I wash dishes with cold water, and I have two roommates. Being poor helps save the environment!)

Using personal credentials to undermine someone prevents intelligent discussion. Limousine liberals is logically the same argument as chickenhawk neo-cons. Should only people with no cars be allowed to speak on environmental policy? Should only veterans be allowed to make foreign policy?

If Al Gore has a point, let him make it, private jets or no.

zefal said...

Come on, Al says he offsets his high carbon dioxide output, from his use of private jets, by drinking uncarbonatd Perrier and swallowing his burps.

Richard said...

The Mall of America is not unique in not needing heating energy. The energy use of a house is dictated by the heat lost or gained through the walls, windows, and roof. The energy use of a building with large interior spaces is different. The heat gain of the lights, electronics, motors, cooking equipment, and people often makes cooling necessary even in the dead of winter. There are ways to get cool air into Minnesota buildings, however, without running the full cooling system. You just have to be a clever engineer with a motivated client!

Harry Eagar said...

$1 a gallon more gas tax? It is to laugh.

I live in the US county with the highest gasoline price ($3.63 U-pump regular) and median income well under the national average.

And the roads are choked with SUVs and giant pickups.

It'll take a lot more than a mere dollar to get Americans out of their big, fast cars.

Zach said...

Hypocrisy is a minor flaw. I think the real point here is that behavior modification takes effort and sacrifice, whereas paying slightly more to do the same things can be much easier -- especially if you already have a lot of money. But behavior modification is what Gore hopes for, because Gore wants significantly lower emissions.

I think this gives us a little bit of a crystal ball into how things will work in the brave new world of emissions reductions. Gore will pay a buck or two more per gallon for the same lifestyle. You will stay home.

Jeff Faria said...

I'm convinced that we all must consume less, in order to save the planet. That's why I'm packing my bags, and moving in with the Gores.

cheeflo said...

All this talk about raising gas taxes -- you're kidding, right? What will that do?

It will do nothing except to further enrich the government bureaucracy that will use the funds without accountability on initiatives that do not solve any of the issues the tax was supposed to address.

Reduced consumption through confiscatory taxes?

That would work with the Americans are overweight meme -- let's tack an arbitrary tax on food to get the national BMI down to where it should be. Better still, let's pay farmers not to grow food -- we can fund that initiative with taxes. Oh, yeah, that's already happening.

if you drive a car, I’ll tax the street;
if you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat;
if you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat;
if you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.