Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gore Hypocrisy - Real, Important or Diversionary?

Several people have clearly expressed their belief that Gore is a hypocrite. In the opinion "The Hypocrisy of Gore" it was stated that Gore should practice what he preaches if he wants people to believe him. I wonder if the author believes in the scientific basis of climate change? I wonder if the author would find the science in "An Inconvenient Truth" more believable if Gore himself lived a less energy intensive and more earth friendly lifestyle? I wonder if there is anyone that would change their opinion and accept the scientific basis of climate change if Gore would just change his own personal habits first?

The science is out there, the science has been out there for many years, regardless of Gore's lifestyle. All his documentary did was make the science more available to the general public.

But just to be sure, could someone please post a link to a believable source of information on Gore's lifestyle? Google just doesn't seem to bring up anything except potential hogwash from both sides of the story. I can also easily look up and comment on the size of his 20 room home and the zinc mine and Occidental Petroleum. There are all kinds of right wing media/blog sites that attack Gore. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research (which was apparently the first to post an article about Gore's alleged energy use the day after the movie was released) may claim that they are nonpartisan, but they are also strongly opposed to government regulations and taxation, including a carbon tax. I can also pull up a slew of liberal websites which mention that he is carbon neutral, paying additional expenses for renewable energy at his house, driving a hybrid, working from home, and buying carbon offsets for his plane flights. It doesn't seem very straight forward to me whether I should believe one side or the other on this one…

What does seem straightforward to me is that the actual energy use of Gore is inconsequential to the facts on climate change. Not only can we separate the messenger from the message, it is important to do so if we are open-minded individuals. Some media outlets were very quick to attack Gore's character after "An Inconvenient Truth" rather than discussing the science of climate change. That feels kind of diversionary to me. And it has led a lot of people down the same diversionary path, whereby they avoid the topic of climate change rather than acknowledging and understanding it.

Now some people that don't like Gore's hypocrisy do believe in climate change. They are fewer, I think, than those committed to the denial platform. But the point is well taken that the poster child for climate change should be an individual that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. I am not a passionate advocate for Gore. Fortunately, there are number of people I would prefer on a climate change poster anyway, and I recommend Amory Lovins for the position.

...Wait, I guess I should also make sure that Amory isn't flying to too many conferences to talk about his ideas on energy efficiency and alternative energy...


Edward Stautberg said...

I think that Gore's "hypocrisy" is not important. The main thing is that he is standing up for this issue. It is impossible to live a truly carbon neutral life. If he runs up a huge electricity bill at his homes, at least he knows enough to buy carbon offsets.
Also, you have to break eggs to make eggs benedict. Sure he jet sets around contributing global warming CO2, but he is doing it for a good cause. He is making people rethink their own carbon usage and hopefully lower it.
He is far more effective by traveling at high speeds than he would be if he walked everywhere.

John Losinger said...

As I posted earlier, Gore's own choices are relevant to the issue(s) at hand. To ignore his hypocrisy is to engage in "diversionary" tactics of one's own.

As with any issue, we should hold our leaders to a higher standard; or at least the standard they demand of others.

This has less to do with Gore's (airplane) globetrotting than the numerous hypocrisies which were uncovered after "An Inconvenient Truth" was released; most notably the extravagant energy consumption at Gore's own home. (
Although this might seem petty at first glance, Gore's reaction to the criticism was more telling.

After it was revealed that Gore's domestic energy consumption was magnitudes (20x) above the average, he quickly began retrofitting his house with all of the latest energy efficient gadgets and said he was “offsetting” his carbon footprint. However, as Makhijani states in his paper, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free, “free allowances, offsets that permit emissions by third party reductions…undermine and defeat the system.”

This alludes to the fact that A) Gore didn't seem to think that the sacrifices he demanded of others applied to him and B) he obviously had the ability to both implement, and pay for, the changes.

Gore's reactive guilt is telling of both his arrogance and hypocrisy. To me, this is anything but diversionary or inconsequential.