Jun 27, 2010

Don't Do as I Do, Do as I Say

I was reamed the other week by other commentors on Huffington Post for daring to question Al Gore's and Bill Maher's carbon footprints. "You make me sick," one person wrote. Another let me know that people like me were what was wrong with America. My retort, which mentioned my own quest to go green and reduce my carbon footprints, somehow was not posted.

I mention both Gore and Maher because they are so vocal about global warming and the dangers of our energy-hogging habits. Yet Al Gore owns houses so huge that mine would probably fit in his kitchen, family room and foyer. Snopes.com points out that the Gores, before their split, used their home for their offices as well as their abode. And that they have converted their houses to using green technology. I think a lot more conversion is needed, for his Nashville mansion costs $30,00 per year to heat, light, and cool.

Which begs the question: How much is enough? How many rooms are needed for comfortable family living? How large do those rooms need to be? And what about all those air flights Al and Bill take crisscrossing our country and world? In an age when technology allows people to testify, meet, and lecture via remote servers and interactive formats, why are Al and Bill still flying all over God's creation?

Gore's Mendocino Home

I am not one of those naysayers and do believe in the dangers of global warming. The temperatures in my house are set at 58 degrees in the winter and 80 degrees in the summer. I own a compact car with gas mileage of 29/40. I've reduced flying to once a year, or a consumption of between 1,000 to 2,000 lbs CO2. Let's say Gore flies only 10 times per year. That means he uses 20,000 lbs CO2 yearly on flights alone. (We know this estimate is laughably low.) Al provides a lame defense for being an energy hog, saying that he does all he can to conserve. In his words his green measures include:
"1. I turn off lights in my house [to conserve energy]. We're getting sensor switches that automatically turn them off when the room is empty.

2. We got a hybrid car recently.

3. We try to live a carbon neutral life. On climatecrisis.org, you'll find a calculator which can add up the carbon dioxide you produce and give you options for neutralizing that.

4. This movie [An Inconvenient Truth] saves carbon dioxide because I don't have to fly and drive places to get my message across." - Read more at Newsbusters
Bill Maher's Bachelor Pad

Well, Al, my lights are on electrical sensors too. My house is dark except for the rooms that are occupied by me and my family, and my energy bill isn't anywhere near yours. I could go on, but what is the point? Our culture is so obsessed with celebrity and their utterances that we will accept their hypocritical practices because their message is good. "You make me sick," one commentor wrote to me. Why? Is my opinion as an obscure tax-paying citizen less important than the utterances of a person who makes enormous amounts of cash preaching at us, but who does not follow his own message in his personal life?

Bill Maher feels free to comment about everything including energy conservation, but I don't see him sacrificing anything at all. As for Al Gore, he represents a larger sick symptom of our society - a representative of the people getting rich from the contacts he's made while in office. (I know his father was wealthy, but Al has managed to position himself very comfortably since leaving office.) In fact, these days America is largely led by rich, fat-cat, and well-connected people who have absolutely no clue about the daily challenges facing ordinary citizens.

"Do as I say, not as we do" is the message these men and their celebrity ilk give to our society. What lesson should our children take away from such hypocrisy?

1 comment:

Linda Merrill said...

Preach it sistah! Brava. You're so right about the celebrity culture. I used to have a secret crush on Bill Maher and even though I don't share his politics, I thought he was at least genuine. But he went off the rails somewhere and just spews to hear himself spew. As for Gore - he has no clue about "real" people, that's for sure. And the commenters on HuffPo are all sheep following their shepherds - there's so little original or critical thought. I'm sure conservative blogs and boards are the same. People just fall in rigid lockstep. And when their positions are challenged, they lash out with personal insults instead of educated rebuttal.