Former Vice President Al Gore refused to take a “Personal Energy Ethics Pledge” today to consume no more energy than the average American household.
But why should Gore take such a pledge? Gore is a champion of greenhouse gas reductions, not energy reductions. Gore explained he buys 100 percent renewable power and is planning to build a solar power system. Thus the electricity Gore consumes in his Tennessee home does not contribute to global warming.
It is conservatives who mistakenly argue that the only way to meet emission reduction targets is by sharply reducing energy use. Conservatives make this argument to try to scare the public into opposing action on climate change. But Gore’s whole point is that smart energy use, including renewables, can allow us to grow the economy while fighting global warming.
Inhofe then introduced another red herring:
There are hundreds of thousands of people who adore you and would follow your example by reducing their energy usage if you did. Don’t give us the run-around on carbon offsets or the gimmicks the wealthy do.
But directly purchasing renewables is completely different from buying carbon offsets, and such purchases are not a gimmick for the wealthy — millions already do the same. Inhofe seems completely unaware of that fact. His entire attack on Gore was both inaccurate and shrill, a sharp contrast to Gore’s statesmanlike tour-de-force, truly a “triumphant return” for the former Representative and Senator.
Indeed, carbon offsets are not just for the wealthy. At Carbonfund.org an average family can pay $396 per year – that is $33 per month. They also have carbon calculator. I just calculated that for my family it would be $25 per month. We have a fuel efficient car (32 mpg), but then again we also traveled a lot last year.
This is cute, for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s clear that this isn’t a pledge that is targeted toward the average American. After all, it is by definition impossible for all of us to consume less energy than the average household. Inhofe is clearly targeting only Gore here, and he’s obviously going after Gore on the “average household” thing as a continuation of last month’s partisan hack job attack on Gore.
More than that, though, this one is cute because it’s carefully crafted to leave Inhofe a line of attack no matter how Gore addresses the challenge. If he refuses to sign Inhofe’s “pledge,” then Inhofe can try to paint Gore as someone unwilling to step up and take the actions needed to back up his words. If, on the other hand, he agrees to sign on to the challenge, Inhofe still has a line of attack – Gore is obviously a deranged fanatic who wants to force everyone to give up creature comforts to save the environment.
It would have been more honest if Inhofe had just gone ahead and asked, “are you still beating your wife, Mr. Gore?”