Is Al Walking His Talk?

Guest poster Terry Parker is a regular commenter here on Portland Transport

Recently a commentary appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle that was reprinted in March 7th edition of The Oregonian titled: “For Gore, it’s as I say, not as I spew”. Is this Al Gore’s very own incontinent truth about global warming and energy consumption?

The commentary questions the sincerity of Gore and other affluent notable people who champion environmental causes. It states “rich people burn a lot of energy”, suggesting affluent spokespeople do not walk their own talk. As an example, the Gores spend $30,000 a year on energy in their “suburban” Nashville home and burned 221,000 kilowatt-hours last year, about 20 times the national average. Even if cut by 50%, that would be ten times the amount of energy an average family uses.

The commentary also identifies Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, both as advocates for environmental causes, both owners of multiple SUVs (Arnold likes Hummers), and both for their use of private planes

Here in Oregon, Governor Kulongoski as of lately has been championing many energy and environmental bills winding their way through the state legislature. However he is chauffeured around the state in a big state owned Lincoln that is often accompanied by a full sized SUV, and resides in a Governor’s Mansion, a rather large dwelling, that is some distance from the Governor’s Office in the State Capital Building.

Is it fair to say that being affluent, and in many cases a public figure like a politician, a movie star or a corporate mogul can simply claim by purchasing energy credits or green power, that it offsets their indulgence of energy use, and makes their footprint on the environment just vanish?

Should the affluent show true personal leadership by being the first to cutback on their own energy consumption thereby reducing that smoke without mirrors? Not every choice people make is going to be the most energy efficient. That is part of diversity, and a normal part of personal interests and lifestyles. However, making self-sacrifices should be the absolute norm for anyone that is pushing for laws that expect other people to make sacrifices.

The question also must be asked, if the wealthy and affluent people in this country – the people who have seemingly unlimited resources to indulge in excess energy consumption – significantly cut back on personal energy use, to the point of near average energy consumption for individuals and families, how would that affect energy supply to the rest of the country?

31 Responses to Is Al Walking His Talk?