Saturday, 21 June 2008, 3:27 pm
Column: Ross Spencer
The world must embrace a “carbon-neutral lifestyle.” So says Al Gore. To do otherwise, he says, will result in a cataclysmic catastrophe. “Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb,” warns the website for his film, An Inconvenient Truth. “We have just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tailspin.”Graciously, Gore tells consumers how to change their lives to curb their carbon-gobbling ways: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, use a clothesline, drive a hybrid, use renewable energy, dramatically cut back on consumption. Better still, responsible global citizens can follow Gore’s example, because, as he readily points out in his speeches, he lives a “carbon-neutral lifestyle.” But if Al Gore is the world’s role model for ecology, the planet is doomed.
For someone who says the sky is falling, he appears quite content to let it fall, if his conduct is any measure. He says he recycles and drives a hybrid. And he claims he uses renewable energy credits to offset the pollution he produces when using a private jet to promote his film. (In reality, Paramount Classics, the film’s distributor, pays this.)
As Gore lectures the world on excessive consumption, public records show that he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself.
Then there is also the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist. Utility customers must simply pay a few extra pennies per kilowatt hour, and they can continue living their carbon-neutral lifestyles knowing that they are supporting wind energy. Plenty of businesses and institutions have signed up. Even the Bush administration is using green energy for some federal office buildings, as are thousands of area residents.
But there is no evidence, according to public records, that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences. When contacted Wednesday, Gore’s office confirmed as much but said the Gores were looking into making the switch at both homes. Talk about inconvenient truths.
Gore is not alone. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has said, “Global warming is happening, and it threatens our very existence.” The DNC website applauds the fact that Gore has “tried to move people to act.” Yet, astoundingly, Gore’s persuasive powers have failed to convince his own party: The DNC has not signed up to pay an additional two pennies a kilowatt hour to go green. For that matter, neither has the Republican National Committee.
Gore has held these apocalyptic views about the environment for some time. So why, then, didn’t Gore dump his family’s large stock holdings in Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum? As executor of his family’s trust, over the years Gore has controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oxy stock. Oxy has been mired in controversy over oil drilling in ecologically sensitive areas.
The world routinely ignores evidence that Gore may personally benefit from his programs. Would the romance fizzle if Gore’s followers realized how much their man stands to gain?
Gore’s blueprint to save the planet moves the United States towards a command economy in which government regulators hold sway over what kinds and amounts of energy will be made available to the private sector. His principal regulatory tool is what’s called carbon-credit trading. What Gore does not trumpet in his documentary is the fact that he is the chairman and founder of a private equity firm called Generation Investment Management (GIM), which is really a broker for carbon credits. According to Gore, the London-based firm invests money from institutions and wealthy investors in companies that are going green.
All these are strangely reminiscent of the flak thrown palm oil’s way by environmental NGO’s such as Greenpeace, FOE, Wetlands and Mongabay. Astonishingly accusing palm oil of every environmental misdemeanor that they could dredge up, ranging from deforestation to threatening the habitat and extinction of the orang utan to global warming, raises the specter that these “environmental organizations” are really after the funds that such posturing will bring (perhaps from “big oil” lobbies or from the competing “oil-seed” lobbies such as the soy, rapeseed or sunflower lobbies).
Never mind that the scientific community is divided over what causes global warming, how bad it is and how to deal with it. These “environmental organizations” play Chicken Little to the media’s applause, insisting that the world is warming dangerously and that palm oil is a leading cause.
Never mind too, that there is no concrete evidence that palm oil has caused deforestation, at least in Malaysia and certainly not on the scale to warrant such alarmist pronouncements.
Never mind also that these alarmist activism by Greenpeace, FOE, et al have led to a situation where a global food crisis is looming with food riots breaking out in the poorer parts of the world.
In the view of Deforestation Watch, responsible activism requires that the proponents of such activism consider the consequences of their actions. Deforestation Watch takes the view that, as things stand, Greenpeace, FOE and others of their ilk would be having the blood of the poor of this world on their hands, with their misguided and irresponsible actions against one of the most sustainable and productive oil seed crops in the world, vis a vis other oil seeds such as soy, rapeseed and sunflower. The final indictment and the inconvenient truth behind the actions of these “environmental organizations” against palm oil is the ultimate ulterior motive – money. What else is new?