Monday, February 26, 2007 - by Drew Johnson, Tennessee Center for Policy Research
Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.
Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh — more than 20 times the national average.
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh — guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.
Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.
“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.
(The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions.)
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The Swiftboaters attack on Al Gore after his Academy award for An Inconvenient Truth, is not being done by a "non-partisan, independent" organization. Tennessee Center's President Drew Johnson comes straight out of the right's network, coming from Exxon-funded American Enterprise Institute and the right-wing-funded National Taxpayers Foundation.
If you look at the links at the website for The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, you will find links to only far right leaning organizations like the Competitive Enterprises Institute, the Cato Institute, and The Heritage Foundation to name a few.
The TCPR is part of a national network of state-based right-wing organizations in 37 states as well as prominent nationwide right-wing organizations. Through its network SPN advances the public policy ideas of the expansive right-wing political movement on the state and local level
Al Gore has responded in part thus far to note that they have embarked on a massive campaign to bring their family's carbon footprint down to near zero. According to Think Progress: 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. Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains what Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.
There are questions as to how the TCPR accessed utility bills, who is funding them and who is actually pulling their strings. I very much doubt that their Swiftboat campaign has anything to do with the public good, honesty or integrity. If they lied about being non-partisan and independent, one has to wonder what else they are lying about.
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Drew Johnson conveniently fails to mention that Al Gore actually pays more per month to purchase 100% 'green' electricity - produced by solar, wind and other renewable resources - through TVA's Green Power Switch program. It probably comes as a shock to learn that the former Vice President has a home that is considerably larger than that of most Americans, a mansion even.
And while Al Gore's documentary does indeed ask Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption, it more specifically asks Americans to attempt to reduce their 'carbon footprint' - the amount of green house gases produced as a result of their energy consumption. Perhaps Mr. Johnson's organization would care to compare Al Gore's carbon footprint to that of others with 10,000 square foot homes.
Lastly, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research may be an 'independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan' group during tax-filing season, but with links to bastions of non-partisanship like the Club for Growth and the American Enterprise Institute (authors of the Iraq 'surge' plan among other gems) and opinion pieces titled "Minimum Wage Hike Means Maximum Harm for Working Poor" you can guess what they likely support on any number of issues.
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In his recent opinion piece, "Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own “Inconvenient Truth,” Drew Johnson makes several allegations regarding the Gore family's carbon footprint. I'm in no position to confirm or deny those allegations. My only question is, "What is Mr. Johnson's point?"
If the point is simply that he believes Mr. Gore to be hypocritical, so be it. Mr. Johnson dislikes the man. Mr. Johnson weighs the man, judges the man, and finds him wanting. OK. That's his privilege, but I don't see why that warrants public discussion. Indeed, let's all grant him his argument for a moment: Mr. Gore is hypocritical. He does not fully live up to the idea that he is working so hard to communicate.
However, while it's never directly stated, I suspect the real message we're supposed to take away from Mr. Johnson's post is that the messenger is tainted and that therefore the message of global warming can be discounted. If so, Mr. Johnson will need to keep very busy over the coming years in his efforts to tar the thousands of individual scientists from around the world who are reaching considerable consensus about the reality of global warming.
And the issue, the only issue that matters here, is global warming -- not the foibles and human failures of any particular individual. I don't care if Mr. Gore is a hypocrite. It is irrelevant when compared to the scale of the real issue at hand.
For gossip or news enshrining the shocking, simply shocking fallibility of celebrities, the super-wealthy, and politicians, please consult the magazine racks in any grocery store aisle. I believe that is where Mr. Johnson's opinion piece belongs, perhaps accompanied by a photo of Mr. Gore in a thong on the back of a gas-guzzling ATV.
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Classic empty arguments by Hadelman and Jones - - if you can't argue facts, just attack the messenger. Calling the Tennessee Center for Policy Research "swiftboaters" and "right wing" doesn't escape the fact that Gore doesn't practice what he preaches. He wants you to reduce your energy consumption, but don't dare expect him to reduce his.
By God, you, Joe American, should feel guilty for what you are doing to the environment. While I, Al Gore, should live in a 10,000 square foot mansion, with a guest house...because I am rich, liberal, have lived an elitist life, and believe in double standards.
What is sad is that people like Mr. John Jones actually apologize for Mr. Gore, and try to justify Gore's "carbon footprint" because he lives in a 10,000 square foot home. Mr. Jones, that is the point. Gore chooses to live in a 10,000 square foot home, with guest house, burning fuel, leaving a big ol carbon footprint. All the while bemoaning Americans who are wasteful, and consume too much.
If you don't see the hypocrisy, you have on blinders.
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I haven't seen Al Gore's movie, or his mansion, but don't you know some lowbrow has got to attack him for having a high power bill at his big home in Nashville?
Al Gore is doing all he can to benefit mankind and the earth and here some detractor has gone to great lengths to show him as a hypocrite because he's got a big house that uses a lot of electricity.
Al Gore is a former VP and a very rich fellow. It's reasonable that he would have a mansion, as would everybody reading this and the guy who wrote the letter, if they only had the bucks. What it takes to power his mansion and a hundred more like it is less than a fraction of a plink in the bucket when we're talking about energy on a global scale.
Al Gore is someone who loves America, loves the earth, and is trying to do a lot of good. He could be spending every second of his time living a life of leisure far from the madding crowd, yet he chooses to try to use his name, fame and money to help the whole world. Why try to detract from such high-minded motivation?
Anyone seeking to discredit a rich man who spends his time and money trying to improve
this planet and show people a better way, needs seriously to rethink his motives. That's downright nasty and unworthy. If Al Gore lived in a tent, such bitter people still find a way to fault him.
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$1,300+ is still a lot of jingwa...just for electricity. I thought the whole object of conservation was to not use so much. If we're buying the "carbon offsets" of others we still aren't cutting usage. We're just moving carbon dollars around.
Compact fluorescent bulbs...now there's a real power savings. How many of us have more than five or six lights on at the same time, or even that many? Even though I run at least one light 24/7/365 for one of my dogs who's afraid of the dark, the savings would still be rather insignificant compared to the power used by the biggest power hogs...the fridge, the hot water heater, and the HVAC system. Switching to CF bulbs would probably save the average consumer less than a buck a week, certainly nothing on the order of several dollars a day.
Something those who advocate use of fluorescent lamps also neglect is comfort level of the light output and static flicker that is known to make a lot of people "jittery." It's also known to bring on seizures in some brain disorders, epilepsy for one if memory serves correctly. We also have to consider the affect of power factor on the power distributors and suppliers. Back in the 70s, when President Carter asked us to sit around in the cold wearing sweaters and to turn off all of our lights, fluorescent lighting was all the rage in Europe. Working for a German company, back when I had a real job, I was also kept aware of what was happening over yonder. There were many plants that had to switch back to incandescent lighting just because of the power factor problems. With today's technology, we may have power factor compensation inside the CF bulbs...but probably not. We all know how those greedy, capitalistic corporations operate...and don't we love all those jobs they provide.
Photo voltaic (PV) solar panels aren't exactly inexpensive. It requires a great deal of energy and raw material to build them. Neither are they efficient. Last I looked, when working with them for stand alone remote power systems, PV cells were at best 6% efficient in direct sunlight. That means that for every 100 watts of energy they absorb from the sun they will put out six watts to run an electric or electronic gizmo, or charge a battery...and they're only producing during daylight hours, when the sun is shining, and they're pointed at the sun. They may be a bit more efficient now but there's only so much that can be done with physics. Gravity is the force I dislike the most.
And then we have the issue of batteries...with their lead (oh, the environmental impact statements) which is the most economical cost/watt chemistry for a storage battery...and their acid electrolyte, sulfuric, wonder what the greenies would say about a leak of that stuff...and we also have the hazard of hydrogen and oxygen generated by a battery that's being over charged. I can say from experience that a hydrogen explosion will really burn one's eyebrows off in a hurry...if we're lucky and that's all that gets burned off. The act of charging a battery is not 100% efficient, either. There is some energy lost during the process, if for no other reason than the heat generated by those little electrons bumping together. Batteries will not last forever, either. They must eventually be replaced because, as with all chemical reactions, there's only a finite number of times a reaction can occur without having to replace the reactants...at least in the real world.
It's all fine and dandy to say we'll run all of our electrical gizmos from batteries, but there are problems with that too. The battery power must be converted to AC, unless we want to revert back the power system that Thomas Edison originally designed...and were shown to be less efficient than the AC system designed by Nikola Tesla. We can't just stack batteries together and chop that up without additional problems. There are losses inherent in all of these processes, so that 6% of energy conversion from the sun may actually wind up being less than 4% or 5%, perhaps way less.
When we have wind we also have dust and grit that gets into the mechanical parts...that use serious energy to produce in the first place...and have a limited usable life...then have to be replaced. Wonder what the cost per kWh for wind power is these days...and what it costs for all of those wind turbines that are sitting idle along the rim of the San Fernando Valley. They're noisy, too, when they're in operation...and require a lot of maintenance...and an eyesore when they're in the Kennedy family's back yard...and a health hazard to migrating birdies...and...
And we really do need to begin calculating cost based upon real costs to produce, not the cost of production with government subsidies. That's just moving dollars from one form to another, sometimes only into a black hole...but there's that gravity thing again.
In the interest of brevity we won't even go to the natural gas, propane, gasoline to operate their SUVs and limousines, jet fuel for private jet operation which can run into the hundreds of pounds per hour, and any number of other power and fuel wasters.
Perhaps Mr. Johnson wasn't complaining so much about the energy usage of the Gore family so much as the attitude of "don't do as I do, do as I say do"...and then to turn around and claim to be an advocate for the common man. It's difficult to claim that we're on the brink of global disaster due to our energy usage and then be a significant power user, and maintain any appearance of being a credible chicken little.
If we claim to buy "carbon offsets," what's the difference from the current system? In our current system, if we can afford it we use it. Seems to be nothing different from a proposed "carbon offset" system except that we'd then be using carbon dollars instead of paper dollars.
Personally, if the Gore family can afford to consume this much energy they should go for it. More power to them, pun intended. However, don't turn around and tell me that I'm being wasteful for the same behavior.
To be sure, we should all be doing what ever we can to conserve energy in what ever manner we can. However, my 1972 version of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, second college edition, defines conservation as:
1. the act or practice of conserving; protection from loss, waste, etc.; preservation.
2. the official care and preservation of natural resources, as forests.
How is one person's wastefulness at the expense of another "conservation?" Even if the former is paying the latter for their usage?
$1,300+ per month for electricity, add to that other fossil fuel usage, several thousand bucks an hour to run a private jet...wonder how many homeless people could be fed or housed for that.
I think I'll go run my soldering iron for a while, while we still have electricity to operate it.
Royce E. Burrage, Jr.
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I love Al Gore. Instead of exposing his power usage in Belle Meade, why not think about the most important treasure lost that would not have been lost if Al Gore had not been cheated out of the Big Mansion.
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It is hard for the left to admit that Al is using more than his fair share, especially with the multiple homes and private jet travel. And to think the Steven Speilberg thinks I shouldn't drive a suburban...and he has a 27 car garage?
The most astonishing thing is that the "Inconvenient Truth" is, at base, a pack of distorted lies that the American Sheeple are swallowing whole. Read the research, it is a fraud. And, now meteorologist that do not tow the line are being fired, and the majority of scientists, that actually are climatologists (including the man responsible for our weather radar system) think it is a pure hoax, period.
It was referred to by the British as the biggest post war hoax out there. Al knows better, but has sold his soul for money, power, and politics; other than that he may be the dumbest man in Tennessee.
I would categorize it as psycho. I might ask, what did big Al do about this when he was VP for eight years?
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Five western governors agreed yesterday on a plan to cut their states' emissions of gases linked to global warming and to establish a regional carbon-trading system, though they stopped short of saying how drastically they will seek to reduce greenhouse gases.
I guess Al Gore's power consumption didn’t figure into their decision at all.