Stop me if you've heard this before, but the other day the Reverend Al Gore declared that "climate change" was "the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced." Ever. I believe that was the same day it was revealed that George W. Bush's ranch in Texas is more environmentally friendly than the Gore mansion in Tennessee. According to the Nashville Electric Service, the Eco-Messiah's house uses 20 times more electricity than the average American home. The average household consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours. In 2006, the Gores wolfed down nearly 221,000 kWh.
221,000 kWh? What's he doing in there? Clamping Tipper to the electrodes and zapping her across the rec room every night? No, no, don't worry. Al's massive energy consumption is due entirely to his concern about the way we're depleting the earth's resources. When I say "we," I don't mean Al, of course. I mean you — yes, you, Earl Schlub, in the basement apartment at 29 Elm Street. You're irresponsibly depleting the earth's resources by using that electric washer when you could be down by the river with the native women beating your loin cloth dry on the rock while singing traditional village work-chants all morning long. But up at the Gore mansion — the Nashville Electric Service's own personal goldmine, the shining Cathedral of St. Al, Tennessee's very own Palace of Versal — the Reverend Al is being far more environmentally responsible. As his spokesperson attempted to argue, his high energy usage derives from his brave calls for low energy usage. He's burning up all that electricity by sending out faxes every couple of minutes urging you to use less electricity.
Also he buys — and if you're a practicing Ecopalyptic please prostrate yourself before the Recycling Bin and make the sign of the HDPE — Al buys "carbon offsets," or "carbon credits." Or, as his spokesperson Kalee Kreider put it (and, incidentally, speaking through a spokesperson is another way Al dramatically reduces his own emissions), the Gores "also do the carbon emissions offset."
They do the Carbon Emissions Offset? What is that — a Sixties dance craze? No, it's way hotter. I mean, cooler. All the movie stars are doing it. In fact, this year's Oscar goodie-bag that all the nominees get included a year's worth of carbon offsets. Totally free. So even the stars' offsets are offset. No wonder that, when they're off the set, they all do the offset. Look at Leonardo di Caprio: He's loaded with ‘em, and the chicks think he's totally eco-cool. Tall and tan and young and lovely, the boy with carbon offsets goes walking and when he passes each one he passes goes aaaiiieeeeeeeee!
How do "carbon offsets" work? Well, let's say you're a former Vice-President and you want to reduce your "carbon footprint" but the gorgeous go-go Gore gals are using the hair dryer every night. So you go to a carbon-credits firm and pay some money and they'll find a way of getting somebody on the other side of the planet to reduce his emissions and the net result will be "carbon neutral." It's like in Henry VIII's day. He'd be planning a big ox roast and piling on the calories but he'd give a groat to a starving peasant to carry on starving for another day and the result would be calorie-neutral.
So in the Reverend Al's case it doesn't matter that he's lit up like Times Square on VE Day. Because he's paid for his extravagant emissions. He has a carbon-offset trader in an environmentally-friendly carbon-credits office suite who buys "carbon offsets" for Al from, say, a terrorist mastermind in a cave in the Pakistani tribal lands who's dramatically reduced his energy usage mainly because every time he powers up his cellphone or laptop a light goes on in Washington and an unmanned drone starts heading his way. So, aside from a basic cable subscription to cheer himself up watching U.S. Senators talking about "exit strategies" on CNN 24/7, the terrorist mastermind doesn't deplete a lot of resources. Which means Tipper can watch Al give a speech on a widescreen plasma TV, where Al looks almost as wide as in life, and she doesn't have to feel guilty because it all comes out … carbon-neutral!
And, in fact, in the Reverend Al's case it's even better than that. Al buys his carbon offsets from Generation Investment Management LLP, which is "an independent, private, owner-managed partnership established in 2004 and with offices in London and Washington, D.C" that, for a fee, will invest your money in "high quality companies at attractive prices that will deliver superior long-term investment returns." Generation is a tax-exempt U.S. 501(c)3. And who's the chairman and founding partner? Al Gore.
So Al can buy his carbon offsets from himself. Better yet, he can buy them with the money he gets from his long-time relationship with Occidental Petroleum. See how easy it is to be carbon-neutral? All you have do is own a gazillion stocks in Big Oil, start an eco-stockbroking firm to make eco-friendly investments, use a small portion of your oil company's profits to buy some tax-deductible carbon offsets from your own investment firm, and you too can save the planet while making money and leaving a carbon footprint roughly the size of Godzilla's at the start of the movie when they're all standing around in the little toe wondering what the strange depression in the landscape is.
A couple of days before the Oscars, the Reverend Al gave a sell-out performance at the University of Toronto. "From my perspective, it is a form of religion," said Bruce Crofts of the East Toronto Climate Action Group, who compared the former Vice-President to Jesus Christ, both men being (as The Globe And Mail put it) "great leaders who stepped forward when called upon by circumstance." Unlike Christ, the Eco-Messiah can not yet walk on water, but then neither can the polar bears. However, only Al can survey the melting ice caps and turn water into whine. One lady unable to land a ticket frantically begged the University for an audience with His Goriness. As The National Post reported, "Her daughter hadn't been able to sleep since seeing ‘An Inconvenient Truth.' She claimed that seeing Mr. Gore in person might make her daughter feel better." Well, it worked for Leonardo Di Caprio.
Are eco-celebrities buying ridiculousness-emissions credits from exhausted run-of-the-mill celebrities like Paris, Britney and Anna Nicole? Ah, well. The Eco-Messiah sternly talks up the old Nazi comparisons: what we're facing is an "ecological Holocaust," and "the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin." That 221,000 kWh might suggest that, if this is the ecological Holocaust, Gore's pad is Auschwitz. But, as his spokesperson would no doubt argue, when you're faced with ecological Holocausts and ecological Kristallnachts, sometimes the only way to bring it to an end is with an ecological Hiroshima. The Gore electric bill is the eco-atom bomb: you have to light up the world in order to save it.
© 2007 Mark Steyn