Saturday, March 03, 2007

Heroes with Feet of Clay

I'm a big fan of the Bob and Tom radio show. They're funny, have comedians as guests, and help me start my day with a laugh or two. I've paid for a VIP membership for several years so that I can listen to their show at a more convenient time.

On March 2, they read a news story about Al Gore's rampant energy consumption in his Tennessee mansion (see February 26 blog). However, later in the show they "amended" the earlier story. They dismissively attributed the earlier report to the Drudge Report (with no mention of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the group who researched Gore's energy use and made the claim.) Tom Griswold then read from the Wall Street Journal, explaining that Gore purchases "carbon offsets" to make up for his energy consumption.

These "carbon offsets" merely mean that you can consume as much energy as you want, as long as you pay someone else to use less. It's the rich Liberal enviro-nazi copout. Again, other people have to pay the price for their actions. (Did it occur to Al Gore and his devotees that he should consume less and invest in the energy projects he now uses as offsets?)

I was horribly disappointed when B&T backed off the Gore story. They caved to political pressure, either from Liberal listeners or Liberal management. Yet again, the Liberal spin machine is allowed to suppress the truth.


Anonymous said...

@ wordkyle:

I followed your link from Dvorak's website. Since I didn't know if you were going back there to read the comments, I figured I'd repost it here.

I agree with your sentiment, but there are some practical roadblocks to it. Simply ‘using less’ is a hard sell to the average Joe/Jane, just because people become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Right or wrong, it’s very tough to get the majority to ‘do the right thing’, when doing what they’ve always done is so easy, and incurs no costs that they can see right in front of their faces.

Pushing energy efficiency is a better method - raising CAFE standards, enforcing efficiency rules & regs on industries & businesses, giving tax breaks for consumers who ‘buy green’ (compact flourescant lights, better insulation, etc …). All these things can be done with so little impact on anyone’s lifestyle that it’s near criminal that we haven’t made such moves in a bigger way already. However, there is a chance that such things would also make energy cheaper (efficiency means less demand, which typically means lower prices), and this will in turn encourage more usage. Its a familar pattern that’s taught within the first couple of semesters of economics.

In both of those cases then (which are frankly the most likely we’ll see - at first - in today’s society), offsets do indeed serve a legitimate purpose. If we can’t reduce the amount of CO2 we produce by any appreciable amount, then offsetting its effects by other means, if just to keep global warming somewhat under control, is a perfectly reasonable tactic. At least in the short-to-medium term.

Long term, what it will likely come down to is a major push by the government to make the contruction of utility level renewable energy generation (wind & solar) a national priority. That could bring the manufacturing costs down enough to make installing both in each home more feasible too. And, personally, I’d also like to see hydrogen replace natural gas as a cleaner burning, pipeline deliverable fuel. Trying to make that stuff run in cars is stupidly inefficient and costly, but piping H2 into each home - as we already do with natural gas - for use in heaters & stoves, or to generate electricty onsite once affordable fuel cells arrive, is a great way to go. It will cost a fortune to convert all the gas lines & gas burning appliances, but nowhere near as much as trying to create a parallel gasoline distribution infrastructure for hydrogen. By the time the H2 got into your vehicle, the costs of getting it there will make it waaay more expensive per unit than gasoline ever will (plus, the price of a fuel cell car w/H2 containment is an even bigger expense still, for the consumer).

The fossil fuel lobbies will fight such things tooth & nail (notice they are the ones pushing fuel cell cars? That’s them trying to keep their present money-making distribution methods intact), but it’s really the only way to make a dent in either global warming or energy security. And the latter - getting off the MidEast MerryGoRound - is, to me, just as important as the former. And it probably will be the only thing that will enable such a project to make any headway against these most entrenched interests.

In the meantime, offsets are OK. They’re at least addressing part of the problem.


wordkyle said...

I don't disagree with most of what you say. Alternative fuels, energy sources that don't pollute as much, incentives to reward those who choose a "cleaner" lifestyle -- all wonderful, no problems. In fact, I am planning and designing my own energy-efficient home which I plan to have built and retire in. But it's my choice.

But there IS no "offset." You consume what you consume, invest in what you invest in. Trying to say that the concept of offsets is "more complex" is just obfuscation.

Al Gore is the leading spokesman, if not the patron saint, of those who would force the lifestyle mentioned in the first paragraph above on those who don't want to live it.

Al Gore insists that others modify their lifestyles while he has done little modifying of his own (other than cosmetic, "boutique"-style steps.) Of course he is going to catch hell. What happened to Jimmy Swaggert and Jim Bakker?