Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Carbon Dating

I’m not a big fan of "carbon offsets." They always struck me as a "guilt balm," where a bunch of rich white Westerners could soothe their conscience for living like a bunch of, well, rich white Westerners. They pay their offset and feel they can enjoy their Hummer guilt-free. I don’t think you should be able to buy your way out of planetary responsibility.

This is Paris Hilton thinking--the kind of stuff you'd expect from some vapid blonde heiress who is too stupid to know better. The truth of the matter is, a lot of America’s super wealthy are Paris Hiltons: they just don’t give a shit. That’s what stuck in my craw about the whole “Don’t Give” campaign. Too many people already don’t give a shit in this world, and I don’t think that’s something which should be encouraged.

But I won't object to carbon offsets on the whole, especially for folks who are doing other things to reduce their energy consumption. For people like Al and Tipper Gore, who also have solar panels on their home, drive hybrid vehicles, buy green power shares, etc., it’s just another item on the green menu, not the whole enchilada. And I think criticism of the Gores--in particular, nonsense like this--is pretty disingenuous:
Gore's people tout his purchase of "carbon offsets" as evidence that he lives a "carbon-neutral" lifestyle, but the truth is Gore's home uses electricity that is, for the most part, derived from the burning of carbon fuels. His house gets its electricity from Nashville Electric Service, which gets its from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces most of its power from coal-burning power plants. Which means most of the power being consumed at the Gore mansion comes from carbon-emitting power sources.

Big fat duh. That's what the carbon offsets are for, ya nitwit.

As I’ve written on this blog before, unless you’re Jeremiah Johnson living in a deer-skin tent, you’re consuming carbon fuels. I can’t imagine the right wingers are surprised to learn that a former U.S. Vice President and Senator doesn’t, you know, churn his own butter. What a shocker.

So quit being hypocrites yourself. Just living in America, enjoying the cushy lifestyle we have here, has an impact on the planet. We all know it. That’s the point of carbon offsets. You can’t eat, live, work and raise a family in this country without consuming more carbon and creating more pollution than your grandfather did doing the same things. All you can do is try to minimize your personal impact, and try to spread the word and get others to do the same thing.

I'm tired of the “Al-Gore-is-a-hypocrite” BS. It’s stupid. Unless you’ve found a better way of doing it, shut up. It's not productive to the conversation (and of course it's not supposed to be), and it's the worst sort of partisan hackery.