Say what you will about them but you can’t say you don’t feel a tinge of sorrow, or at least embarrassment, for all those fabulously wealthy Greens–known to millions as the Global Warming Elites–who increasingly find their fabulous lifestyles staring down the muzzle of the internet itself, replicated with hi-res zoomable image loads on Digg or You Tube. It isn’t long before they find themselves suddenly having to engage in a rigorous defense of it all.
Case in pixel point: greenman John Travolta’s back yard. Every last blade of grass is online, but it’s all the stuff on it that causes the commotion. The man is telling people to conserve resources (he encourages his fans to “do their bit to tackle global warming”). but there it is– his Florida estate filled with custom jet aircraft–a 707, two or three Gulfstreams, a Lear jet–all parked along the neat golf course-like landscaping, somewhere near the huge swimming pool (though at first you might mistake it for Lake Okeechobee), not too far from the SUV fleet which is sort of intermingled with the Yankee Stadium class array of lighting equipment.
At first—from an overhead– the vehicles look like so many children’s battery powered plastic riders but then, well, no, those babies are real. The cars, the planes, the pool lake. But the aircraft! The man has a damn air force. John Travolta’s air corp could seriously jeopardize the governmental stability of at least thirty percent of the world’s nations. He could, I’m sure, wipe Peru or Guatemala off the map, that is if he were some megalomaniac like Dr Evil intent on conquest. But no, not to worry, this flying actor ace just likes flying big fuel guzzlers above the clouds. Evidently, he has a different plane for nearly each day of the week (notice how his house resembles an airport terminal).
John Travolta’s estate in Florida, showing a few of his planes.
Before the heavy duty hyper-linking raised awareness about such things, being an armchair green used to be like living and breathing in a hypocrite’s paradise. You could have your huge carbon footprint and eat it too. You could talk a good green old-forest talk and really feel good about yourself (and others about you) and your cause, but use as much carbon emitters as you wanted. Like Al Gore they could laugh at that spinning electrical dial on the outside of the mansion. No one was looking. Not really looking. But now not even the muscle bound green Arnold can use his gluttonous Hummer like some skateboard anymore.
In case you didn’t know the defense is called “carbon neutralizing”, an amorphous term which goes something like this (and this is just an oversimplified example, so allow for some latitude): Let’s say Arianna Huffington gets up in the morning and is flown in her Lear Jet down the street to Seven-Eleven for coffee and a cream cheese bagel. That’s a lot of fuel but, wait, she carbon offsets it. Dutifully, each night, she makes up for the fuel intake of the winged breakfast run by turning off maybe a couple of hundred lightbulbs in her home during the evening.
Of course the problem with this, which is something probably even the most dense dolt is now beginning to realizes, is that their carbon neutralizing always takes place within their own gluttonous context: their neutralizing only offsets one excess for another .
But you figure the Green Elites love their Lear jets and limos and Hummers, their mansions, motorized yachts and driveways and parking lots long enough to pave the whole country of Zimbabwe. The carbon offset is an essential mask on their hypocritical way of life. But with hyperlinking becoming more invasive by the moment carbon offsetting must become equally more sophisticated. Environmentalists are more and more being called on the ecological carpet.
From the LA Times: “The Oscar-winning film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ touted itself as the world’s first carbon-neutral documentary. The producers said that every ounce of carbon emitted during production — from jet travel, electricity for filming and gasoline for cars and trucks — was counterbalanced by reducing emissions somewhere else in the world.” How?
“Co-producer Lesley Chilcott used an online calculator to estimate that shooting the film used 41.4 tons of carbon dioxide and paid a middleman, a company called Native Energy, $12 a ton, or $496.80, to broker a deal to cut greenhouse gases elsewhere. The film’s distributors later made a similar payment to neutralize carbon dioxide from the marketing of the movie.”
Unfortunately for the Greens the sophisticated online calculating is no different than Ms Huffington flying down the block for a bagel in the morning and then turning off her lights. You see, the ever so sophisticated offsetting turns out to be “a ridiculously good deal with one problem: So far, it has not led to any additional emissions reductions. Beneath the feel-good simplicity of buying your way to carbon neutrality is a growing concern that the idea is more hype than solution.”
So what does it all boil down to? ” ‘If you really believe you’re carbon neutral, you’re kidding yourself,’ ” says Gregg Marland, a fossil-fuel pollution expert at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee who has been watching the evolution of the new carbon markets. “You can’t get out of it that easily.” But that of course is exactly what the jet set Global Warming Elites want to do.
Here’s an UPDATE.
Here’s the latest UPDATE (11/30/09).
Update: Harrison Ford, another fabulous greenboy offsetter.