Your daily dose of environmental self-defeat

Hey, it’s media criticism week here at TerraPass! The Washington Post lies while the New York Times fiddles: eager to find new ways to trivialize the warming of the planet, the Green Inc. blog reports on the carbon footprint of individual politicians and legislatures.

They are abetted in this effort by Terra Eco, a French environmental magazine that has calculated British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s footprint to be — *quelle horreur!* — 8,400 tons of CO2 per year. By my calcs, that’s about 0.0001% of America’s carbon footprint, so as soon as Brown buys a bicycle, we should have the climate problem pretty well licked.

In the meantime, I applaud Eco Terra’s work on this important issue, and look forward to their upcoming report on the size of Al Gore’s swimming pool.

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adam

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  1. darooda - March 4, 2009

    Sure, one man’s waste does not constitute the whole problem, however hypocracy does damage a message. You can see it in the stimulus debates and other reforms. Congress passes a law that disallows phamacutical companies from passing out pens, but then accepts free trips, dinners, etc, themselves? It doesn’t make the new laws poor policy, but it does lose support.
    You guys live lifestyles consistent with the message you preach and people listen. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t. Leading by example is a basic concept, and it does matter if you want to effect change in those reluctant to do so themselves.

  2. David - March 4, 2009

    I find that “walking the walk” is empowering in many ways, giving me the confidence to deepen my commitment to sustainability which I practice at so many levels. From biking to composting, recycling, picking up trash by the river, planting native trees and shrubs, volunteering for local watershed protection, and investing in efficiency and conservation in my vehicles, home structure and appliances. Choices of where to live relative to school and work, all have a bearing on the size of my eco-footprint.
    Hypocrisy is a funny thing– it reveals a conflicted soul (or a crass manipulative one, equally not at peace at the end of the day). Sure it adds to your cred when you walk the walk– it also adds to inner strength to make other necessary changes toward sustainability on the continuum we find our lives existing on.
    When the largest SUVs on the road last year had bumper stickers saying their son was a marine and were pro-war, at least we knew they didn’t give a sh+t about sustainability or climate change.
    These media outlets need to give daily news we can use to effect meaningful change toward sustainability in our own lives. There is no silver bullet solution, but a myriad of better eco-choices about how we do things in our daily lives. Leadership by example in this way is a valuable thing. We are all leaders in this respect.

  3. Ken - March 4, 2009

    President Obama gives us another example of not leading by example. During the campaign, then Senator Obama, said “we must lead by example.” “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees all the time.”
    Apparently, now President Obama doesn’t follow his own advice. He has raised the temperature in the Oval Office to 82 degrees! David Axelrod, his Chief-of-staff, said, “you could grow orchids in there!”
    So much for leading by example.

  4. Anonymous - March 4, 2009

    There is a distinction between carbon footprint for simple personal pleasure (the Al Gore swimming pool example) and what a political leader does in the course of his job. If that leader is carrying out genuine improvement (as Obama) then if he needs his office hot, let him do it – he has possibly the worst job in the world and so far he’s doing great at it. If having his office hot helps him relax to fight the genuine horrors at stake, this is a trivial price to pay. Same idea as having him fly in Air Force One to a climate change conference – if he then fights for the right answer, the fuel was well worth it.

  5. Ken - March 5, 2009

    I disagree. The fact that the President does not follow his own advice indicates a basic lack of integrity and highlights his hypocrisy. In my own profession as a university professor I am continually suggesting ideas to students to reduce energy use and I do those things myself. When the President is in the Oval office, he should be working, not relaxing. As to the President’s performance so far, he has said much but accomplished little.

  6. san jose - March 5, 2009

    gandhi said it best:
    you must become the change you wish to see in the world.

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