Monday, March 12, 2007

Be careful what you wish for...

A gathering storm around Al Gore's personal energy use. Victor Davis Hanson writes of Bipartisan Hypocrisy:
Al Gore has preached to millions about the dangers of climate change caused by profligate carbon emissions. But his mansion and the private jets he has often used burn up far more fossil fuels than what the average citizens whom Gore browbeats to change their wasteful lifestyles consume.
Hot Air delves deeper into what they call "Gore's inconvenient truth":

Former Vice President Al Gore has built a Green money-making machine capable of eventually generating billions of dollars for investors, including himself, but he set it up so that the average Joe can’t afford to play on Gore’s terms. And the US portion is headed up by a former Gore staffer and fund raiser who previously ran afoul of both the FEC and the DOJ, before Janet Reno jumped in and shut down an investigation during the Clinton years.

But perhaps the most damning criticism comes from The Economist:

Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

Responding to Drudge’s attack, Vice President Gore’s office told ThinkProgress:

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.

Some of this response seems flatly silly. The electricity usage is what Mr Gore consumes after things like solar panels and CFLs are taken into account; it's hardly comforting that he could be emitting even more carbon, since that is true of almost all of us, yet has not stopped Mr Gore from hectoring us to reduce our carbon output still further. Similarly, I find it hard to believe that Mr Gore has actually reduced his carbon output "as much as possible"—and if Mr Gore so believes, I invite him to take a train up to New York, where I will show him what a more carbon efficient lifestyle looks like.

Add to this, some reports that Global Warming: The momentum has shifted to climate skeptics, and the Global Warming debate becomes ever more complicated. Yet, there can be no doubt that the environmental movement now shines favorably upon global warming adherents and those promoting conservation and greater energy efficiency. The CEO of General Electric on Saturday said that "The United States needs to develop a national climate change policy, but also recognize that coal and other fossil fuels will remain an important energy source for decades." Furthermore, the future tends to seem very bright as new and exciting technologies and sources of energy seem to be popping up all the time. The Economist reports on Fire Down Below:

EARTHQUAKES, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are the price that more than 300m Indonesians and Filipinos must pay for living in the Pacific ocean's “ring of fire”, the world’s most seismically active zone.

But there are benefits, too. One is that the grinding of tectonic plates over the ├Žons has left valuable metal ores near the surface. Another is that, where the earth’s crust is thin or cracked in such regions, huge amounts of electricity can be generated from super-hot rocks lying not far underground.

The principle behind this geothermal energy is simple. Usually, groundwater has trickled down into the rocks over the ages, and has been trapped at high temperature and high pressure.

Drilling a hole into this underground well releases a bountiful source of steam which can drive a turbine. The waste water is pumped back down into the earth, where it can heat up again and produce more steam.

Geothermal electricity is clean, with no emissions of carbon dioxide or other pollutants; and sustainable, since the supply of underground heat would appear to be almost limitless.

Sounds awesome, if we can make it work.

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