Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Maybe John-O shouldn't read this. This comes from Gregg Easterbrook AKA The Tuesday Morning Quarterback one of my favourite sports writers out there. He contributes to ESPN.com and is part of a (some say liberal) think tank called The Brookings Institute. He wrote a compelling book called The Paradox Of Progress: How things get better but people feel worse. During his usual sports takes he has this to say about our boy Al Gore and his fight with manbearpig (global warming).

"Those Hollywood Searchlights Around Gore's Home Sure Eat Power: Gore wasn't the first quack to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and history suggests he will not be the last. Gore spent eight years in the White House, and in that time took no meaningful action regarding greenhouse gases. The Clinton-Gore administration did not raise fuel economy standards for cars and trucks or propose domestic carbon trading. Though Clinton and Gore made a great show of praising the Kyoto Protocol, they refused even to submit the treaty to the Senate for consideration, let alone push for ratification. During his 2000 run for the presidency, Gore said little about climate change or binding global-warming reforms. In the White House and during his presidential campaign, Gore advocated no consequential action regarding greenhouse gases; then, there was a political cost attached. Once Gore was out of power and global-warming proposals no longer carried a political cost -- indeed, could be used for self-promotion -- suddenly Gore discovered his intense desire to demand that other leaders do what he had not! It is a triumph of postmodernism that Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for no specific accomplishment other than making a movie of self-praise. Gore caused no peace nor led any reconciliation of belligerent parties nor performed any service to the dispossessed, the achievements the Peace Prize was created to honor. All Gore did was promote himself from Hollywood, and for this, he gets a Nobel. Very postmodern.

An annoying complication of Gore's Nobel is that few realize the award was given jointly to him and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization well worthy of distinction. The IPCC is a group of scientists who have spent two decades studying climate change in obscurity, and in many cases without pay. The IPCC's efforts have been selfless, motivated only by concern for society. Had the Nobel Peace Prize gone solely to the IPCC, it would have been a great day.
An astonishing measure of how out-of-touch the Norwegian Nobel Committee seems is that it gave a prize to Gore for hectoring others about energy consumption in the same year it was revealed that Gore, at his home, uses 20 times the national power average. Gore's extraordinary power waste equates to about 377,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually, or about 20 Hummer Years worth of global warming pollution. (A Hummer Year, TMQ's metric of environmental hypocrisy, is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year of driving a Hummer.) When his utility bill made the news -- though apparently not in Oslo -- Gore responded by saying he buys carbon offsets. That takes you back to the offset problem: All offsets do is prevent greenhouse gas accumulation from increasing. If you really believe there will be a global calamity unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced 80 percent, as Gore told the Live Earth crowd, you would buy offsets and cut your own energy use. Instead, Gore flies around in fossil-fuel-intensive jet aircraft telling others: Do as I say, not as I do!

After news of Gore's personal energy consumption broke, Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider told The Associated Press the utility bill was justified because "Al and Tipper both work out of their home." This raises the question -- what kind of work are they doing? Perhaps reanimating Frankenstein; in Frankenstein movies, there is always a lot of electricity crackling wastefully about. Here are other possible reasons the Gores' home requires so much energy:

• Gore is building a time machine to return to Palm Beach, Fla., in October 2000.
• The former vice president is doing everything he personally can to cause global warming, so he can claim his predictions came true.

• Gore is growing marijuana in his basement. [Note from the corporate legal department: This is strictly a joke, ESPN is not accusing Al Gore of growing marijuana. We stand by our allegation that he is a sinister kingpin of international rare-bird smuggling.]

• Members of Gore's species require high power levels to maintain human form.

• Al and Tipper don't just leave the lights on when they make out, they leave the lights on all over the house."

And what about Congress? Gregg.....

"Congress Talks Green -- Action Is Another Matter: As debate heats up in the Senate regarding "carbon trading" legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I commend to readers this new paper by TMQ pal Robert Stavins of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Stavins is the top environmental economist in the United States, and his paper, though not exactly beach reading, tells you everything you need to know about carbon trading. Plus, Rob must be a great guy because he has nine titles.
Raising mileage standards for vehicles and enacting a carbon trading system for electric power generation are two highly desirable actions Congress can take right now, without doing economic harm, to cut greenhouse emissions, improve national security by reducing U.S. reliance on Persian Gulf oil and push Detroit automakers to become more competitive so they stay in business. But instead of taking badly needed action, the House of Representatives last week spent $89,000 of taxpayers' money to purchase 30,000 tons' worth of "carbon offsets" for its antiquated coal-burning powerhouse. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declared the U.S. Capitol will be green by 2008, but this sounds to me like political yammer.

First, according to estimates by resource economists, carbon offsets need to cost $20 to $25 per ton in order to generate a significant profit incentive for innovators, and thus inspire technical breakthroughs that will stave off artificial global warming. If the Capitol paid only $3 per ton, it wasn't buying much. More important, if you really believe artificial global warming is a huge menace to society, you don't just buy offsets and continue using your antiquated coal-fired powerhouse -- because, after all, the offsets only prevent emissions from rising, doing nothing to reduce emissions. If you really believe artificial global warming is a menace, you buy offsets and cut your own carbon output, thus reducing emissions. This is the big fault with Al Gore's patting himself on the back for buying offsets: He has not reduced his carbon footprint. If he believed his own speeches, he'd both buy the offsets and cut back his carbon-intensive jet-set lifestyle.

Pelosi's talk of a "green" U.S. Capitol is especially phony when she refuses to allow the House of Representatives to vote on proposals to increase fuel-economy standards for vehicles. Higher mpg standards -- the average fuel economy of new cars, trucks and SUVs has not risen since 1988 -- are a million times more important to preventing artificial global warming than symbolic actions such as those being taken at the Capitol. Stricter mileage rules would not only reduce U.S. payments to Persian Gulf dictatorships but also make a significant dent in greenhouse gases because greenhouse emissions are proportional to fossil fuel burned. Yet while Pelosi announces lofty promises about a renewable Capitol, she won't schedule a vote on the strict new mileage standards backed by figures as diverse as President Bush and Barack Obama. (In the Senate, anything goes, but in the House, the Speaker has ironclad control over what comes to the floor.) Pelosi appears to want to prevent progress against petroleum waste so that Democrats can bash Republicans in 2008 by saying nothing has been done about automotive mileage. Wouldn't it be nice if the Speaker of the House were more concerned about the country than about political posturing!

They want to cooperate on reducing petroleum waste. Congress won't stand for that!
What of other political leaders? George W. Bush has proposed an international conference to negotiate nonbinding future goals for greenhouse gas reduction -- exactly the empty gesture his father proposed in 1992! As Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post shows, all contenders for the presidency have embraced climate proposals that seem bold and sweeping. But read closely: None would have teeth until long after the bold politicians making the sweeping proposals leave office. Hillary Clinton, for instance, wants bold, sweeping action against greenhouse gases by 2030, when she would have been out of office for at least 14 years. John Edwards, whom TMQ likes because he emphasizes the forgotten issue of poverty, wants bold, bold, really bold action by 2050, when he will be 97 years old. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pulling this fast one, too. His bold, bold California climate plan has gotten him fawning press but does not require any action until after Schwarzenegger is out of office. Obama and Bush have backed higher mpg standards that would go into effect right now. But then, the lesson of Gore's Nobel Prize is that to talk big but do nothing of substance is what society rewards."

I wish we could see more of this from mainstream media, but we don't. Notice he bashes both sides of the political spectrum, we never see this in today's media because just like this article states, most (almost all) people in the media are Democrat or have contributed to liberal causes and would never question anyone like Gore or really any Democrat.


John-O said...

Actually, I SHOULD read this, because there are some good points in there. Doesn't change my mind, but it's good reading.

I had a longer comment going, but it got too long and will wind up being a post of my own.

Convincing people to be better stewards of the planet is good work and should be commended. I will not likely ever understand why people want to demonize someone who is actually trying to do some good - although I suspect it is very easy to point to Mr. Gore's own waste and label him a hypocrite.

I like omelettes - they are one of my favorite meals. I would like to sign up to be on the e-mail list to receive notification the very minute that they figure out how to make a tasty omelette without breaking any eggs.

But I digress. No surprise, but Mr. Gore is not perfect. Neither is anyone. I'm sure if he could do this work without leaving his own footprint, he would; but as they say, "nothing can survive in a vacuum."

Prime Mover said...

Glad you enjoyed the reading. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to have a clean environment or planet. I just don't subscribe to the Al Gore theory of "we are all going to die if we don't change our habits now excuse me while I waste a ton of energy on my own and organize events that will destroy it even more in the name of awareness." I wouldn't get on Gore's case if he actually did something positive during his tenure in office and actually employed change. He has done nothing except receive accolades for doing nothing. Bush has done more than him and he's regarded in the media as the worst environmental president ever, even though he obviously isn't (Gregg Easterbrook has pointed this out numerous times). The only celebrity I can think of that isn't a hypocrite and actually practice what he preaches is Ed Begley, Jr. And he started WELL before Al Gore, why isn't anyone patting him on the back?

I'm sure we'll have more nice little back and forths like this in the future.

Third Rail said...

Call in and check out our interview tonight at 8pm EST with Ray Buchanan, founder and president of the Stop Hunger Now organization and veteran actor John Mahon on thirdrailradio.com