Greener Than Gore

The long, cool spring we’re enjoying here in central Indiana got me thinking about global warming — excuse me; I mean, “climate change” — the other day. It struck me that regardless of who wins the election in November, we’ll have a president who believes that humans are principally responsible for weather changes around the world. All three of the remaining candidates have promised to do something about that.

Not wanting the responsibility for such an awesome task in the hands of an ideologue likely to act on faith instead of reason, I humbly submit my name for consideration as the first Climate Czar of the United States.

Why not? I already lead a greener lifestyle than the Nobel Prize winning prophet of climate change, Al Gore. I figure if he’s good enough to win a Nobel Prize, then I must be qualified to direct the country’s response to imminent climatological disaster.

For example, when we moved from Missouri to Indiana, we looked for a place close to my new employer. We chose a nice little bungalow about 9/10 of a mile from the office, which means I use about two gallons of gas a month for my daily commute. (And I could cut that in half if I didn’t come home for lunch every day.)

Our decision wasn’t based on a desire to save Mother Earth from the ravages of burnt hydrocarbons; we’ve just never seen the logic in spending time in a car that could be better spent at home. Or in sending more of our money to global corporations that already have more than enough.

Now, how much did Al Gore travel last year? His overseas flight to collect the Nobel Prize probably exceeded my entire carbon footprint for 2008. (Well, okay, I had to fly to Birmingham and back for my boss last month, but I flew coach, packed shoulder to ribcage with a couple hundred others.) If he were truly green, he could have settled for a congratulatory email, or maybe delivered his acceptance speech by webcam.

We’ve also changed our habits and we now eat out only rarely. Since relocating to Indiana, we’ve paid others to prepare our meals a grand total of six times, about once a month. Going to a restaurant means customers and employees burning fossil fuels, and besides, restaurant food has become a lot more expensive lately because of increasing fuel costs and commodity prices.

As noted above, Mr. Gore is often away from home, which means he’s eating out a lot — unless he’s bringing along a cooler with sandwiches.

Sen. Barack Obama recently noted that Americans need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by lowering our thermostats in the winter instead of heating our homes to 72 degrees. Sharon and I already do that. In fact, as Climate Czar, I would commit to heating our offices the way we do our home — to 60 degrees. We find it saves money and helps us to breathe more easily. Besides, we like sweatshirts.

If my staff doesn’t like it, well, then, they’re obviously not committed to the cause and would be better off in another branch of government.

In contrast, a 2007 study by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research revealed that Mr. Gore’s 10,000 square foot home “consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year”. No one must have told the Nobel Committee about Mr. Gore’s utility bills.

Most of the furnishings in our home were picked up at the local flea market and Goodwill store. Again, we saved money and kept old couches, tables, chairs, lamps, and other nick-nacks out of landfills.

While I don’t know for certain, I seriously doubt that any of the rooms in Mr. Gore’s beautiful home are filled with recycled furniture.

Even our yard is fairly green, in the environmental sense: I can mow the yard in less than fifteen minutes with a reel mower, the old manual push type common before the gasoline powered mower became a suburban staple.

From the available pictures of the former vice president’s home, I submit that the carbon footprint created by landscaping his yard should have been enough to disqualify Mr. Gore from Nobel Prize consideration.

Ah, but his supporters argue, Mr. and Mrs. Gore buy “carbon offsets” to neutralize their sizable sooty footprint. This is hokum and bunk. According to Wikipedia:

A carbon offset is a financial instrument representing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
[…]
[I]ndividuals, companies, or governments purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity use, and other sources. For example, an individual might purchase carbon offsets to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions caused by personal air travel. In 2006, about $91 million of carbon offsets were purchased in the voluntary market, representing about 24 million metric tons of CO2e reductions.

Offsets are typically generated from emissions-reducing projects. The most common project type is renewable energy, such as wind farms, biomass energy, or hydroelectric dams. Other common project types include energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural byproducts, destruction of landfill methane, and forestry projects. Purchase and withdrawal of emissions trading credits also occurs, which creates a connection between the voluntary and regulated carbon markets.

In other words, you buy an offset, representing the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide, although you don’t really know how the seller is going to achieve this reduction. Could be the planting of a bunch of trees, could be investment in a wind farm (as long as it’s not where other rich people like the Kennedys or the Romneys have to see it), or could be some other conservation project, you don’t know. You take it on faith that somewhere, enough greenhouse gas is being reduced to offset what your actions have put into the atmosphere.

Ri-ight.

The key words in that definition are financial instrument. And the delicious irony is that offsets — a key element in the “cap and trade” approach to reducing greenhouse gases favored by progressives like alleged Republican John McCain — were invented by the financial alchemists at Enron.

So, with that in mind, I outline my simple, common sense approach to policy as America’s first Climate Czar:

  1. Outlaw carbon offsets. Wake up, people, it’s a scam!

    The practice of buying and selling offsets is the 21st century equivalent of the medieval Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences. With enough money, the most wasteful, fuel-hogging, gas-producing slob can assuage his guilt and buy redemption for his climate-destroying sins.

    Here’s a news flash, Al: Offsets don’t actually reduce your carbon footprint. Financial instruments are meant to be traded back and forth, like those based on subprime mortgages.

    Look, given the choice between trading a bunch of carbon offsets for a quick buck and actually putting money into expensive, risky, and unproven alternate energy technologies, what do you really think an investment banker is going to do?

  2. Sponsor scientific symposia to consider the possibility that climate change is caused by the Earth’s proximity to a yellow dwarf star that fluctuates in its intensity. In other words, maybe global warming is caused by the Sun.

  3. Change the tax codes to discourage excessive personal fuel consumption. Our current tax codes unfairly punish the rich for earning more money, but they take a much bigger percentage out of the budgets of low and middle income citizens for fuel purchases. So let’s make the taxes paid on gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil progressive — make the wealthy pay a higher tax rate on gas for their Hummers than we pay for our subcompacts!

  4. Encourage oil drilling in the United States. What a concept! There is evidence that three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia lies underneath the rocky soil of western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Until the day we can drive solar powered cars, we need oil, and depending on unfriendly regimes to supply it is flat stupid. (Note: I doubt this recommendation will ever be put into play; we’re in the Middle East and Central Asia because our foreign policy is not intended to secure our own supply of oil, but to control everyone else’s.)

If any of the candidates for president actually create a position for a Climate Czar, it’s unlikely that he or she will give me a look. Our green lifestyle is the result of choices based on our financial interests. Living close to work, eating at home, driving 4-cylinder vehicles, and buying used clothing and furniture simply costs less than buying newer, bigger, and farther from home.

And — here’s the key point — they were our choices, not government mandates.

Ultimately, that’s what the climate change issue is all about: the wealthy, like Al Gore, already have theirs, and they want to control what the rest of us can get.

If it wasn’t plain enough already, the recent television ads featuring Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich, in which they asked us to join forces to save the world from climate change, confirmed it. When people allegedly on opposite sides of the issues declare themselves in agreement, the fix is in.

The science of climate change is far from settled. Last week, over 31,000 scientists, including respected theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, signed a petition stating “…There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will cause in the future, catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

The high priests of climate change are not persuaded. They continue to exhort the faithful to remain pure of heart in the face of evidence that global temperatures are dropping. Their doctrines include regulating what you drive, the temperature of your home, and even how much you eat (us overweight people worsen global warming, you know, because we use more fuel for transportation and food production), all in the interest of saving the planet from our gaseous emissions.

In short, it’s not about climate, it’s about control.

And it appears that three of the most fervent believers in the gospel of climate change are the remaining candidates for president of the United States.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for a call.

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