Do Aldroids Dream of Inconvenient Hypocrisy?
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).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
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.
“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
Aw, c’mon Drew? Al just has to use all o’ that energy in his great, big mansion so he can power the global media campaign that is spreading the Truth to all of us poor, working- and middle- class, ignorant rubes? Dontcha see? And that’s why he uses a private jet, too: so he can spread the word to the masses faster than he could by riding a bike! Really! Honest!
(h/t Philip K. Dick)
UPDATE: Al Gore has responded:
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.
Ed Morrissey has a few cogent points to make about Mr. Gore’s rebuttal:
Interesting that he doesn’t dispute the numbers; he just tries a little misdirection instead.
First, the solar panels and the compact fluorescent light bulbs will certainly make a difference — but the TCPR report looks at his electricity bill, which still indicates (a) a high level of usage, and (b) an increase since the movie’s release. Solar panels generate electricity at the location, which should then decrease the amount of power he’s buying from the utility. If it’s still going up, there seems to be a serious management problem somewhere.
Second, as I mentioned above, purchasing offsets only means that Gore doesn’t want to make the same kind of sacrifices that he’s asking other families to make. He’s using a modern form of indulgences in order to avoid doing the penance that global-warming activism demands of others. It means that the very rich can continue to suck up energy and raise the price and the demand for electricity and natural gas, while families struggle with their energy costs and face increasing government regulation and taxation. It’s a regressive plan that Gore’s supporters would decry if the same kind of scheme were applied to a national sales tax, for instance.
And basically, it doesn’t address the issue of hypocrisy. If Gore and his family continue to increase their consumption of commercial energy with all of the resources they have at hand, then they have no business lecturing the rest of us on conservation and down-scaling our own use.
Glenn Reynolds is also skeptical on the carbon offsets idea. Again: it sure is nice that the wealthy do-gooders can afford unburden their enviro-consciousness without having to actually alter their actions, isn’t it? How convenient.