Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts

Good grief, but this is annoying. Apparently the new fad is to excoriate Al Gore for how much power his Nashville residence uses. So, you see, we should not listen to anything Gore says because he's a hypocrite. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!!

Except, not. Think Progress summarizes the Vice President's response:

Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

Having thus reduced his footprint, Gore also purchases carbon offsets to reduce that footprint to zero. Here is my favorite explanation of the concept of carbon offsets, from Real Climate. In relevant part:

The idea behind carbon offsets is built upon the foundation of carbon emissions trading established by the Kyoto Protocol, a scheme called cap and trade. Carbon emissions for industries are capped at some level by regulatory permits to emit CO2. If a company is able to cut its emissions below that level, it can sell its emission permits to another company. The cuts in emissions are thereby steered, by the invisible hand of the market, to the cheapest and most efficient means. Cap-and-trade has worked well for reduction of sulfur emissions in the U.S., that are responsible for acid rain. CO2 emission is intrinsically even better suited for cap-and-trade, because it is a truly global pollutant, so it matters not where the CO2 is emitted.

The carbon emissions market requires a certification process to verify any reduction in carbon emissions. and the other similar operations take donations from people like me and use the money to pay for renewable energy sources like solar cells or wind farms, that would not have been built otherwise. For these efforts, they receive credits for reduction in carbon emissions that are certified as valid, and therefore eligible for trade in the emissions market. Instead of trading that emission credit, “retires” it, so that it isn’t used to balance higher carbon emission from another source. The certification process from the emissions market has an unintended benefit of providing an independent way to verify the carbon impact from sending money to organizations like It's a nifty idea.

I can think of little else that better exemplifies the intellectual bankruptcy of this sort of gotcha! bullshittery than this manufactured controversy. It could not be clearer that these howler monkeys have made no effort to understand carbon offsets.

And the traditional media is falling for it, of course. Jake Tapper's article covers three pages online, buries Gore's response several paragraphs in and contains no explanation of carbon offsets and little acknowledgment that Gore's actual carbon footprint is zero.

And I don't expect much from Fox News, but this is Grade A idiocy:

Al Gore's posh home in the Nashville suburbs might be "carbon neutral," but it still uses a lot of power.

Yeah. In other words, Al Gore's household contributes less to global warming than any one of his detractors, but so what?

Why let the facts get in the way of a good smear?

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