Al Gore is a hero to many environmentalists. He chose to use his power and influence to make an Oscar-winning Documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth“. It is a movie that chronicles Al Gore’s life and pursuit of informing the world about the dangers of global climate change. It is a movie showing how heroic Al Gore is in seeking to save the environment. Al Gore will be referred to for the rest of this blog as, “The Goracle”.

The day after The Goracle’s movie won the Oscar for Best Documentary, he was criticized for his excessive energy use at his Tennessee mansion. A spokesperson for The Goracle defended his use of energy by noting that he purchases “green power” and carbon credits. Here is an excellent article that shows how silly the concept of carbon credits really is.

The Goracle’s use of carbon credits is supposed to obviate his excessive use of electricity. A carbon credit is a way to soothe your guilty conscience for using too much energy and emitting too much CO2. Here is a quote from a site listing carbon offset companies (emphasis added):

Example: a mid-sized 30 mpg car driving 12,000 miles/year will create about 3.55 tons of CO2/year. Using Carbonfund.org’s calculator we figured this would cost only about $19.50 or $1.63/month to be offset! This means that for a very small amount of money you can drive the equivalent of a zero-CO2-emission car!

It is up to each of us to clean our own mess, obviously the government can’t and won’t do it (alone). Signing up with any of these programs might effectively reduce your CO2 contributions to ZERO! (All prices in US$)

So, by paying money to a company that promises to use the money to help the environment you can drive guilt free?!? What if the company doesn’t use the money the way they say they will? There is no recourse. You are not actually buying a service or a product, you are buying a promise that your money will go to developing renewable energy, planting trees, or any other method the company says they will use the money for. There is no reliable way for a consumer to check up on what the company is doing, especially if they are promising to do something in a third-world country such as donating emissions reducing technology. This kind of arrangement is really a set up for the misuse of such funds while people feel nice about it.

Maybe P.T. Barnum was right that “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Or was Mr. George Hull right?

Regardless of the use or misuse of carbon offsets, The Goracle can’t even get this one right, ethically. Dumb is one thing, possibly fleecing millions of people is another. From the Tennessean.com article (emphasis mine):

[The Goracle] helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe, she said.

It turns out that The Goracle is also the current Chairman of that company. The company invests (read: purchases stock) in companies that develop renewable resources and also sell carbon offsets. The Goracle invests his money through his own company to make up for using so much electricity. That is just the beginning.

The Goracle goes around the world beating the drum of climate change and man’s role in causing it, therefore we must do something about fixing the problem. Instead of The Goracle reducing his own use of these resources he tries to make people feel guilty for their use of fossil fuels and then provides a way for them to pay to absolve themselves of this guilt. Sound familiar?

When so many scientists can credibly argue that The Goracle’s movie was based on junk science, it is possible that he is also aware that his “sky is falling” approach is based on junk science. If that is the case, then The Goracle is just lying to drum up business for his company and the companies that he invests in. It is already evident that The Goracle has a monetary interest in people believing that global climate change is something to be worried about and that carbon offsets are one way of attempting to fix it. Here is another article about the issue of The Goracle’s fiscal benefit to purchases of carbon offsets.

It is possible that the increased use of “green power” initiatives and “carbon offsets” may set up a new round of Sumptuary Laws. These laws (regulations) were designed to make sure it was easy to identify what station of society you belong to. If the EPA mandates the use of “green power” which is already demonstrably more expensive and then also mandates the purchase of “carbon offsets” for gas guzzlers, then only the well off will be able to use all the electricity they want to and also be able to drive a gas guzzler.

The Goracle’s motivations may not be as pure as he would like us to think they are.

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