Al Gore Makes Amends

Better late than never:

Gore makes Nashville home more ‘green’

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Al Gore, who was criticized for high electric bills at his Tennessee mansion, has completed a host of improvements to make the home more energy efficient, and a building-industry group has praised the house as one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly.

The former vice president has installed solar panels, a rainwater-collection system and geothermal heating. He also replaced all incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs — even on his Christmas tree.

“One of the things that is tremendously powerful about what the Gores have done is demonstrate that you can take a home that was a dog, an absolute energy pig, and do things to correct that,” Shinn said.

In February, a conservative think tank criticized Gore for using an average of 16,000 kilowatt hours a month for an average monthly bill of $1,206 in 2006. The typical Nashville home uses about 1,300 kilowatt hours a month.

Gore has said the criticism was unfair because the 10,000-square-foot mansion was undergoing extensive remodeling. He said this week that “global warming denier” groups were trying to discredit him because they don’t like the attention he has given to climate change.

“You’re going to have people try to attack the messenger in order to get at the message. They have not been able to succeed,” Gore told CNN from Norway, where he picked up the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work.

He still has pretty high electrical usage, but I grant that he probably has numerous people working out of his house:

Electricity usage at the home remains well above regional averages, but Gore’s power consumption decreased by 6,890 kilowatt hours, or 11 percent, between June and August, despite the heat wave.

Gore’s electric use increased again after he had to take his solar panels off-line in August so his new geothermal system could be integrated into the system. But his natural gas use has dropped 93 percent in the three months since the geothermal pump was activated.

At least he is trying to set an example.

69 thoughts on “Al Gore Makes Amends”

  1. NASHVILLE, Tenn.(AP) Al Gore, who was criticized for high electric bills at his Tennessee mansion, has completed a host of improvements to make the home more energy efficient, and a building-industry group has praised the house as one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly.

    The former vice president has installed solar panels, a rainwater-collection system and geothermal heating. He also replaced all incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs.

    “Short of tearing it down and staring anew, I don’t know how it could have been rated any higher,” said Kim Shinn of the U.S. Green Building Council, which gave the house its second-highest rating for sustainable design.

    Gore’s improvements cut the home’s summer electrical consumption by 11 percent compared with a year ago, according to utility records reviewed by The Associated Press. Most Nashville homes used 20 percent to 30 percent more electricity during the same period because of a record heat wave.

    Shinn said Gore’s renovations are impressive because his home, which is more than 80 years old, had to meet the same rigorous standards as new construction.

    “One of the things that is tremendously powerful about what the Gores have done is demonstrate that you can take a home that was a dog, and absolute energy pig, and do things to correct that that,” Shinn said.

    Gore bought the mansion in the Nashville suburb of Belle Meade in 2002 for $2.3 million. It houses his offices and those of his wife, Tipper, as well as a commercial kitchen for formal events.

    Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider declined to say how much the couple spent on the improvements.

    “The Gores decided to take a series of steps over time that might be logistically or financially out of reach for many Americans,” she said. “But they were fortunate enough to have the ability to do so

  2. thomas is spot on — what is the cost/benefit balance? It would be good to know that balance in energy terms and CO2 production terms, as well as in money terms.

    Most “green” technologies do not make sense in money terms (without subsidies). This suggests that the energy required to make photocells and heat pump systems is less than the energy they save over their working lifetime.

    I am totally in favor of conservation. But spending $2 to save $1 is fashion, NOT conservation.

  3. Most “green” technologies do not make sense in money terms (without subsidies). This suggests that the energy required to make photocells and heat pump systems is less than the energy they save over their working lifetime.

    I’ll agree that in most cases the “green” tech costs more than fossil energy today. That said, energy input is just one component of cost. We’ve come a long way since the 70s – green techs now have unambiguous positive energy payback. This implies that the higher cost comes from non-energy inputs. Moreover, the cost comparisons are skewed by the externalisation of costs from fossil energy (in side-effects such as GW that will have long-term costs not borne by the consumers of that energy today).

    I applaud Gore for taking these steps, although I’ll note that the most effective (not to mention cheapest) means of reducing one’s footprint is still conservation.

  4. I wonder if his kWh usage is more line with the average when adjusting for square footage? I’m guessing the “average” user at 1300 kWh per month does not live in a 10000 square foot home.

    Furthermore, it would interesting to know to what extent the “average” home incorporates even simple energy saving devices such as CF bulbs. There always seems to be quite an outcry whenever phaseouts of incandescent bulbs are discussed in Washington.

    I’m not pro- or anti-Gore, but it is fatiguing listening to the debate framed by ill-informed parties on either side of the issue.

  5. “at least now?”

    and that rationally ties with this how?

    “Gore has said the criticism was unfair because the 10,000-square-foot mansion was undergoing extensive remodeling. He said this week that “global warming denier” groups were trying to discredit him because they don’t like the attention he has given to climate change.”

    and don’t forget that his neighborhood had rejected his solar panel request before this whole bruhaha

    I’m sorry, I count this as being wrong, finding out you were wrong, and then saying “see, I was right!”

  6. I’ll agree that in most cases the “green” tech costs more than fossil energy today.

    Are the good old “efficient” appliances “green” tech?

    My new refrigerator paid for itself in 5 years. That’s not bad for an appliance that should last 20.

    My washer and drier will take longer, but then they should last longer … and of course I am doing the “voluntary reductions” in electricity, water, and natural gas that benefit my community.

  7. BTW, I’m still enjoying my new asus eee pc (as an ‘around the house’ web surfing device). By my calcs it will save me $35 per year in electricity, but sadly, given its $350 price tag, it will take ten years to put me in the black.

    … of course, if we thing what I’m doing is “good” it might be worth it. $350 is small money, and $35 off that each year makes it smaller.

    (Heck, Al Gore haters put more than $350 into the gas tanks of their pickups every month!)

  8. I’m sorry, I count this as being wrong, finding out you were wrong, and then saying “see, I was right!”

    You aren’t in the ballpark. I am just trying to cut the guy a little slack. But do you want to know what I really think? I still think – and I will always think – that if you are going to be a prominent voice telling people to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, then you better be setting a great big example. That means being very frugal with your own energy usage. It doesn’t mean buying a mansion that will require a very large energy expenditure; which if the rest of the world did, GHG emissions would go way up.

    Al Gore’s actions say that he is entitled to use more energy than other people. You know, do as I say, not as I do. As I have noted before, someone like Ed Begley Jr. certainly has the moral authority to ask people to conserve. He is setting the example.

    Al Gore is improving, and that’s what this story was about, but he had a choice when he chose the house he chose. And I am sorry, in my book, he set a poor example. It was that way yesterday, it is that way today, and it will be that way tomorrow. It has nothing to do with a realization that I was wrong. Per my own personal moral compass, I am not wrong. We all have things we feel strongly about. I feel very strongly that if I ask you to walk a mile, I will show you that it isn’t so bad by walking two miles. I won’t walk a quarter mile and tell you that it would be good for the world if you now walk a mile.

    RR

  9. So tell me … the article I quoted from March of this year says:

    “Gore bought his multimillion dollar home in 2002 in Belle Meade, an exclusive city encircled by metropolitan Nashville, and he has been ramping up an ambitious renovation ever since. But his contractors ran into a legal barrier last summer when they sought to apply for a permit to install solar panels on the roof.”

    When did you first attack Al?

    Before or after the summer of ’06 when he tried to install his solar panels?

    Before or after his start of renovations?

  10. Shorer:

    It is unbecoming to make an argument that requires us to suspend the facts.

    The facts are that he tried to go solar in ’06, and then was faulted by you and others in ’07 for making no effort.

  11. The facts are that he tried to go solar in ’06, and then was faulted by you and others in ’07 for making no effort.

    But those aren’t all the facts. The facts are also that Al Gore has long been telling the world to reduce carbon emissions. So he goes and buys a mansion in 2002, and then proceeds to emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Four years later, he decides it would be a good idea to put on solar panels.

    But I didn’t criticize him for “making no effort.” I criticized him for the bottom line: His mansion generates an enormous carbon footprint. It’s like me running around the world with my two wives in tow, extolling the virtues of monogamy. Of course “I” can have two wives. I am special. But I am saying that the rest of you should only have one.

    The bottom line is that you and I are still in the same place we always were. You don’t think him not bending over backwards to set an example, while telling everyone else to sacrifice, is a big deal. I do. It’s as if you like blue, and I like red, and that’s simply a matter of personal preference.

    RR

  12. I think the main things that survived was the CAFE boost and a huge increase in the biofuels mandate. I think there was also some efficiency stuff that made it, but I don’t think much else did.

  13. It is unbecoming to make an argument that requires us to suspend the facts.

    Forget Al Gore for a minute. Use me as your example. Let’s say that I believe that Peak Oil is the most serious threat out there. I am going to go on a campaign to educate the world on the need to conserve, and warn them of the dangers that Peak Oil poses.

    So, first off I buy myself a Hummer. Now, I don’t want YOU to buy a Hummer. I want you to buy a Prius or a compact car. But a Hummer suits someone of my stature – even if Peak Oil is a crisis that requires you to sacrifice. Now, after a few years, I decide to convert my Hummer to run off of E85, because after all, I am asking people to sacrifice. I should do my part. But it turns out my Hummer can’t be easily converted. I ran into a road block. Oh well, I tried, but my efforts were thwarted.

    Now, that’s just the way I see this Al Gore situation. I mean, he is sounding a warning. “We are in deep trouble.” So, naturally I would expect him to buy a mansion and generate huge carbon emissions. Now, I can’t do that, because I am not Al Gore. You can’t do it. The average Joe can’t do it. We have to sacrifice. Because if we all did what he did, the emergency would be so much worse.

    Now, I have tried to give the guy credit for moving in a direction that will give him more moral authority, but you want to insist that there was never a problem. As long as you do, I will continue to argue that there was.

  14. I think people criticize Al, because they don’t like him.

    Look, he could be down to negawatts and people would still find ways to criticize him.

    And that’s good, he’s a public figure and he _should_ set an example.

    It’s just that most of the people badmouthing him at every turn (not you Robert) fail to perform this same function on every other energy hogger:

    – their boss
    – their spouse
    – their best friends
    – their president
    – themselves

    And by doing that they are hypocrites.

    At least Al is doing something. Sure. poor performance, but trying to fix some of it.

    He’s responding to criticism.

    Think about that for a moment.

    Most of the time, when we are criticized, we just come up with excuses.

    And do nothing else.

    The whiners who just whine from the altars probably drive an SUV + shopping bag + cars for children + sports car, vote republican free-market-whackos, want cheaper gas and no limits on pollution or CO2 emissions. They will do nothing to cut their own energy consumption.

    They have that guilty pinch, so they must take it out on somebody.

    Hell, let’s shoo the messenger! That guy who’s telling us thing we don’t want to hear.

    But hey, that’s what we humans do.

    Lie to ourselves.

    Yours truly included.

    And that, my dear fellow human beings, will be our downfall.

  15. Journalists have never been known for their math skills, and this article illustrates that point.

    If Gore’s average electricity usage is 16,000 kwh/month, and it falls by 6,890 kwh, the drop is significantly more than the 11 percent quoted in the article. It’s more like a 43% drop. Or if the 6890 kwh decrease is 11%, his initial usage had to be in the 67,000 kwh range, which is a number I’d find to be suspiciously high even for a house that large.

    On a related point, I understand your criticism of Gore for not doing what he preaches. But I also give him credit for retrofitting a house in an established neighborhood rather than contributing to sprawl by building a new energy-efficient home in the suburbs.

  16. I think people criticize Al, because they don’t like him.

    I think that’s probably true, but for the record, that is absolutely not why I have criticized him.

    At least Al is doing something. Sure. poor performance, but trying to fix some of it.

    Absolutely. That’s why I called attention to it. I had no intention of rehashing that old stuff. But I take exception when someone says “There wasn’t any poor performance in the first place.” But that’s what Odograph did when he said that I had “found out I was wrong.”

  17. No, I said you were playing with the timeline by saying “At least he is now trying to set an example.”

    The fact is that he was “trying to set an example” before you made the mistake of flowing with the “talking point” crowd on this.

    You are still playing with the timeline when you say “Four years later, he decides.”

    The report we have is “Gore bought his multimillion dollar home in 2002 in Belle Meade, an exclusive city encircled by metropolitan Nashville, and he has been ramping up an ambitious renovation ever since.”

    You’re a stubborn guy. You want to fight based on your mid-2007 idea of who Al is, rather than what is documented.

  18. Or if the 6890 kwh decrease is 11%, his initial usage had to be in the 67,000 kwh range, which is a number I’d find to be suspiciously high even for a house that large.

    Quoting from the initial article that was the basis for my original criticism:

    In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh — more than 20 times the national average.

    But you are right; the math doesn’t add up.

    But I also give him credit for retrofitting a house in an established neighborhood rather than contributing to sprawl by building a new energy-efficient home in the suburbs.

    Yeah, count me among those who detest the sprawl. I sometimes worry that I will see the day that we are subdivision from coast to coast.

    RR

  19. I felt I had to comment. This reminds me of the nonsense that surrounded David Suzuki when he toured Canada in a diesel bus early this year. The critics (mostly right wing nuts) went ballistic, saying he was a hypocrite for not using a greener method of transportation. Um, how exactly would to transport 8 people around Canada greener than a diesel bus? He didn’t fly and he didn’t use a gasoline bus. I guess they could have had an armada of hybrid cars.

    In America, the rich get elected and the rich make a difference. It takes money to get a message out. Bono supports AIDS in Africa and Bill Gates supports Education; neither position requires anything of them except donating large amounts of cash. Unfortunately, Al Gore has picked an issue that allows ad hominem attacks. If you ask me, the critics are the hypocrites.

  20. Shorter:

    Your claim today was:

    “At least he is now trying to set an example.”

    To really make that work, from facts, you should show that Al did not “try” until you (and the other critics) made him.

  21. The fact is that he was “trying to set an example” before you made the mistake of flowing with the “talking point” crowd on this.

    Which I presume is why he bought the mansion in the first place. To set an example. After all, if we all did it, greenhouse gas emissions would plunge. Right? Just follow Al’s example.

    The fact – and I know you like facts – was that my original article was based on his consumption. At the end of the day, the consumption is the bottom line, no matter how much he has cut. We are only going to achieve the goals he desires by slashing our consumption. We can’t get there by living Al’s example.

    And I am talking about his personal consumption. Where I do cut him slack is 1). Where the consumption should actually be divided among more people; and 2). When he actually reduces his personal consumption. What I would like to see is that if the average Joe’s personal consumption was similar to Al’s, would we would be better off. If the answer to that is “Yes”, then he is setting the example I think he needs to set (given the message he is preaching).

  22. Unfortunately, Al Gore has picked an issue that allows ad hominem attacks.

    There is nothing about my criticism that is ad hominem. My original criticism – and again, I hadn’t intended to rehash all of this – was that he was not setting a good example. I know nothing about the David Suzuki situation, so I can’t comment there. But I don’t criticize Al Gore for flying all over the world. That’s required to get his message across, and I consider it a net positive. If that was the case with David Suzuki, you wouldn’t have heard an criticism from me.

    If you ask me, the critics are the hypocrites.

    Some probably are. If someone like Bill O’Reilly, Larry Craig, or (insert numerous other blatant right-wing hypocrites) criticizes Al Gore, then they are hypocrites. They would have criticized him for not walking the talk, when they haven’t done so themselves on some other issue.

  23. If it’s not ad hominem it is at least coming from a weird place. I mean, why else the factually incorrect:

    “At least he is now trying to set an example.”

    For me that last “dig” tells me where you are coming from. You really don’t care that Gore “tried” long before this attack meme spread.

  24. After all this we shift goalposts to make the attack stick?

    I suggest you go all the way back to the beginning, so you can see where the goal posts always were. From my original article: “Gore’s consumption is incredibly high, and he is asking the rest of the world to conserve.”

    If the word that is bother you is “trying”, as in “trying to set an example” – well perhaps he did in fact try before. But he still had very high consumption. The choices he made from the beginning are what resulted in the very high consumption. That was the goalpost – not whether he tried before.

  25. For me that last “dig” tells me where you are coming from. You really don’t care that Gore “tried” long before this attack meme spread.

    And you read that as a “dig”, when in fact it was written to be complimentary. It was written in the tone of “At least he is making some changes.” And in fact, the first time I wrote it, I didn’t even have that sentence in there. But the paragraph looked awkward without a sentence after it, so I just stuck that in as an afterthought. But you think it was stuck in there as a dig, and so we get to rehash a lot of old ground.

    You have clearly misinterpreted “where I am coming from”, and it is leading you to faulty conclusions.

  26. What should we, the readers, think when you can’t even acknowledge a factually incorrect statement?

    “At least he is now trying to set an example.”

    You can shift and turn and say that Al does not satisfy your requirements for his actions, but that doesn’t change the factual inaccuracy.

    You told us that Al was “now” trying.

    If, in fact the headline was “Al Gore does not do as much as I think he should.” then (a) I wouldn’t be dinging you on factual inaccuracies, but (b) you wouldn’t get the snazzy blog entry.

  27. What should we, the readers, think when you can’t even acknowledge a factually incorrect statement?

    What’s happened is that you have read far, far more into that statement than what was actually written. Therefore, to save someone else completely misreading the tone, I have deleted the word “now.” We know he tried before. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was his high consumption. You have made the issue whether he had previously “tried” to do something about it. I never disputed that he had tried before. I commented on his consumption – which, whether he had tried or not, was extremely high. He is (now) seemingly making a statement about that consumption.

  28. So what exactly is he “making amends” for Robert?

    Um, what have been talking about? His previous high consumption. He is making amends for the fact that he wasn’t setting a good example. And in contrast to “now”, that was not written as a hasty afterthought.

    Honestly, this essay was written to call attention to Al for doing the right thing. You clearly read it as just another dig – in a long line of digs – at Al.

    I don’t have anything else to say on the issue. I am just repeating myself. You see the issue one way. I see it another. I believe at the core of my being that if you are a high profile advocate on an issue, you really need to set an example for others to follow. The higher the profile, the more important the example.

  29. I think it is nice when anyone, you, me, or Al, makes an effort to set an example.

    But I am suspicious when anyone is faulted, harassed, pursued, for not being a perfect enough example.

    Al tried to put in solar panels in 2006. Failing that he bought offsets. The right wing machine heard about the offsets and started their “talking point” engine on offsets, indulgences, hypocrisy, etc.

    Obviously that would not have gotten off the ground if the solar thing had higher public awareness. Nonetheless the attacks live on, in zombie form, as a weak attack without substance.

    Heh, the argument “shuffles” in pursuit of Al. Al has to “make amends” .. but oops, we forgot what he was trying in the first place.

    As far as what we should demand of people? I said before that I think of it in a “judge not, lest thee be judged sense.” I think it’s unseemly that the zombie attack is about a morally superior right to judge.

    And of course, it’s never symmetrical. Senators The Obama/McCain/Lieberman support a climate bill climate bill … did anyone check to make sure that none of them live in “mansions?”

  30. Without the extra words that would be:

    And of course, it’s never symmetrical. Senators Obama/McCain/Lieberman support a climate bill … did anyone check to make sure that none of them live in “mansions?”

  31. Wait a minute. Gore wrote “Earth in the Balance” in 1992. He bought the house in 2002. If it was really important to him, he would have asked the realtor about the solar panels. At a minimum he would have been given restrictive covenants at closing. I know my housing addition has restrictions against solar and wind power.

    Even then, when he did find out, he could have sold the house and moved. Al is a board member of Google – he can afford to live wherever he wants.

    Nope, he was caught red handed in a huge hypocrisy. Why didn’t he just fess up and say he made a mistake? Instead he calls his critics GW deniers. Nice one Al.

  32. And of course, it’s never symmetrical. Senators Obama/McCain/Lieberman support a climate bill … did anyone check to make sure that none of them live in “mansions?”

    None of them make AGW a central part of their campaign. If they did then it would be OK to look at their houses too. If John Kerry hadn’t made his service in Vietnam a central part of his campaign, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth wouldn’t have made it a big issue.

  33. The first thing that came to mind when I read this is, why does Al Gore have to live in a mansion in the first place? He should be setting an example by living in a modest home. And I see I am in agreement with RR on this one.

    Sorry, but I see Al’s choice of residence as not only hypocritical, but also as the apotheosis of the McMansion craze.

    Here in Japan, homes are built with no central space conditioning. People heat or cool only those rooms which are actually in use at a certain time. Why can’t American homes be built that way?

  34. If it was really important to him, he would have asked the realtor about the solar panels…. when he did find out, he could have sold the house and moved.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Gore had asked the realtor about solar panels and was told they were fine. Belle Meade had no restrictions specifically against solar panels. The restrictions were for power generating equipment and was probably written with noisy gas and diesel backup generators in mind, with nary a thought either way on photovoltaic panels. The solution was not to accept bureaucratic defeat and move away, but to have the city actually think about how PV fits in the code and whether they should change the code, which they did.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,259938,00.html

  35. Odograph,

    I generally find your comments to be incisive and educational but I think you have a bit of a blind spot on this issues.

    Al Gore is advocating for the use of force and legal penalties to change how people live their lives.

    He might have a good reason for this and he might be pushing for good policy.

    However, if you are going to push for the use of force to modify how people live their lives it would be wise to set a good example.

    Otherwise folks will ask, pretty reasonably in my opinion, why should we change our behavior if you are not willing to change yours.

    Cheers,

    TJIT

  36. Robert Rapier and Odograph,

    I have been watching a little bit of the dual train wrecks that are the energy and farm bills.

    I am now pretty throughly convinced that efforts to try and prevent climate change by legislative actions designed to reduce CO2 production are going to cause far more environmental destruction then simply doing nothing would.

    First of all the entire process is being powered forward by well meaning folks who are not paying attention to what is being implemented.

    This results in the process being driven and steered by rent seeking entities who are solely motivated to structure things to maximize there ability to make money.

    Odograph will correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think many signatories of Kyoto have been able to meet their emissions targets.

    I also think the European car makers have not been able to meet the mileage requirements and the European carbon offset market collapsed last year.

    So there has been no success reducing carbon emissions via regulatory methods.

    However, what the regulatory drive to reduce CO2 has produced is mandates for the usage of ever increasing amounts of biofuels.

    This has caused the destruction of large amounts of existing, natural carbon sinks in Brazil, Asia and other areas.

    Rain forests and prairies are being destroyed in order to plant palm plantations and soybeans to feed the mandated biofuel markets.

    I suspect when the mass transfer calculations are done the loss of natural carbon sinks is going to swamp whatever small reductions in carbon emissions other regulatory efforts are able to provide.

    In other words we will be in a situation where trying to fix the problem will have made it worse.

    TJIT

  37. Sorry Clee, that explanation doesn’t cut it either. This just shows that energy efficiency wasn’t even a consideration when the Gore’s moved.

    A call to code enforcement would have revealed the regulation. The new ordinance is hardly better. Limiting solar panels to areas not visible fromt the street or neighbors limits where you can put

  38. TJIT,
    That has been my point all along: these pinheads do only damage. It’s best to just tell them: Hey, there’s no problem here, get back to your lobbyists and lunches.

    My advice: Vote for Ron Paul, and let the invisible hand work this out. That and $100+/bbl.

    BTW, Odograph, if this was Survivor I suspect you’d just been voted of the Island…

  39. Well, kingofkaty, perhaps I’m totally wrong about it. But from what little I hear about local code enforcement (and that tends to be hearing people complain about it), I wouldn’t count on getting the same answer from code enforcement for the same question if I asked 4 years apart, particularly if there’s been a change in administration in the meantime.

  40. Come to think of it, when I had solar panels put on our roof, the Associate City Planner originally rejected the plan, saying that we couldn’t have panels on the front roof. So I found a picture of another house in the city that had PV panels on the front roof and brought it in. The Associate City Planner was not in that day, so I spoke with the Zoning Administrator who approved the panels on our front roof. So on a topic not written in code in black and white, ask the same question one week apart and get a different answer depending who’s in that day.

    But yeah, I’d bet that Gore hadn’t asked code enforcement before he bought the house, because that kind of thing would probably show up in the article. But if he had asked the realtor, like you originally suggested, and got a favorable answer, well… that’s not something to admit to…relying on the word of a realtor when that carries no weight with the town.

  41. “BTW, Odograph, if this was Survivor I suspect you’d just been voted of the Island…”

    Heh, the darker side of democracy has always been about mob rule.

    And I think Al Gore thing has mob rule stamped all over it.

    I mean they started out as strong as they could make it, that he lived in a mansion while “only” buying “offsets that were like medieval indulgences.”

    Never mind that offsets can be real, when “additionality” can be proven.

    Never mind that it was never “only” offsets.

    What are we left with every time we divide this down? That Al lives in a mansion.

    Well mob, think about everyone who lives in a mansion, and if you are agin’ them all.

    Do you have a list of such folk? Or is Al the only one in the planet you want to put this upon?

    (BTW, extra points to anyone who thought about the family dynamics, and how a longtime and supportive wife, say, might have an idea about “her” house.)

  42. Well mob, think about everyone who lives in a mansion, and if you are agin’ them all.

    It’s never been about him living in a mansion. It’s about living in a mansion, but giving the message to everyone else that they can’t do that.

    I have to agree with TJIT above. I usually do find you very objective and insightful, but I also think you have demonstrated a serious blind spot, or blind loyalty, over this Al Gore thing. You always want to make this about “we don’t think he is doing as much as he should.” Poppycock. That isn’t what any of this is about.

    These aren’t ad hominem attacks either. They are based on the issue: Although Al Gore bought himself a mansion, he needs the rest of you to downsize. Yet you can’t bring yourself to admit that this is really the wrong message. You just want to excuse him.

    Take my friend Jerry Unruh, whom I wrote about last Christmas. Fanatical Al Gore supporter. Campaigned for him for president. Thinks Al is the best think since sliced bread. But he told me that he was very disappointed over the mansion thing, because it sends a message contrary to the one Gore is publicly espousing. It’s as simple as that.

    But again, the purpose of this essay was not to criticize Al Gore.

    RR

    P.S. I wouldn’t have voted you off the island. I encourage disagreement.

  43. Here I say “judge not” but I have reservations about Mr. Unruh’s approach. What should I do?

    I guess I have to say that if he, and you, think that living in a single-family dwelling, at a high altitude, in a location demanding high winter heat, and then offsetting that with solar is a good approach … then you are doing your part. You are following your own beliefs.

    I should not presume to be his, or your, judge.

  44. BTW, speaking of (surprising) role models, did you hear that Larry Hagman has largest residential solar array in the US?

    Not only that, he apparently bankrolled six more solar homes for poor families through the BP’s Solar Neighbor’s Program.

    Amazing stuff, more power to him

  45. I guess I have to say that if he, and you, think that living in a single-family dwelling, at a high altitude, in a location demanding high winter heat, and then offsetting that with solar is a good approach … then you are doing your part. You are following your own beliefs.

    The problem is that your comment is a gross mischaracterization. Jerry lives in a small home, made largely from dirt and recycled materials. The home blends in with the surrounding area, and has a very low footprint. He and his wife did a large part of the construction themselves. Since moving into the house, he has only drawn electricity from the grid on a couple of occasions (after several cloudy days in a row). His actual propane usage is very low – about 200 gallons per year (thus, your comment about high winter heat demand is inaccurate).

    From the conclusion of the conversation I documented:

    Our house approaches net zero energy, when electrical production is subtracted from propane consumption. Our net propane consumption is approximately 0.4 gal/day (gross is 0.923 gal/day). Our net carbon dioxide production is approximately 1.5 kg/day while the average household production in Colorado Springs is > 40kg/day.

    His carbon footprint is probably lower than 99% of the homes in the U.S. To me, that’s setting a great example if you are going to urge others to reduce their GHG emissions.

    RR

  46. That is lower than I remember, and yes that does provide an excellent example for those who live in colder regions.

    But here’s another way to look at the deal. After all that work, his daily net propane usage is 0.4 gallons or 0.036 mmBTU. Just living in a California condo my natural gas usage is 0.48 therms per day, or 0.048 mmBTU.

    OK, I thought I would do better … it’s a good thing I wasn’t judging anybody.

    But still we are both a long ways from the typical numbers. Both approaches work.

  47. He probably also averages 3 or 4 people per year as residents. He has a steady stream of visitors during the year, and lots of family on various occasions. Not all of the guests are as committed as Jerry is, so that’s part of his energy usage right there.

  48. “Not all of the guests are as committed as Jerry is, so that’s part of his energy usage right there.”

    You don’t suppose Al has that problem? 😉

    (Not that there’s never been a battle of the thermostats in this house!)

  49. I don’t believe that Al Gore cares much about the environment. What he really cares about is the issue of the environment.

    If he really believed in the actual environment he would walk the walk, like an Ed Begley or Larry Hagman. Before the new media entered the scene he could get away with having a different public and real persona. No more.

    Mr. Gore is full of hypocrisy and untruths. He misrepresents and lies in his movie, he “inconveniently” leaves the nuclear wedge out of the proposed solutions to AGW when quoting an academic paper. If Gore wanted to make REAL progress on AGW he could lead. Here are some ideas:

    Promote federal legislation to trump local ordinances for installation of solar and wind

    Support repowering older fuel fired and coal fired power plants – tell environmental groups to shut up and stop opposing progress

    Support import of LNG, the Alaska Gas line and cleaner conventional fuels.

    Promote tax incentives for carbon sequestration projects.

    Promote nuclear power projects that have local support

    Stand up and tell the environmental groups that they are in impediment to progress. Stop blocking EVERY project.

    We are a fossil fuel based society, we are not going from where we are today to some utopian energy solution overnight. There will be a few decades of transition. Gore could use his influence to support projects that move us in the right direction.

    Ed Begley has done this. I have copies of several letters he has written that support conventional energy sources that are cleaner than the alternatives.

  50. Kingofkaty suggested that Big Al should:
    Promote federal legislation to trump local ordinances for installation of solar and wind …

    Stand up and tell the environmental groups that they are in impediment to progress. Stop blocking EVERY project.

    Agree wholeheartedly that Al Gore is the poster boy for most of what is wrong with today’s Neo-Stalinist “watermelon” pseudo-environmentalists.

    Of course, if real environmentalists had their act together, they would be the ones leading the charge against the Goracle, instead of playing word games to defend his extravagant lifestyle.

    Still, look at what a reasonable person (Kingofkaty) would have Big Al do — promote federal legislation to take authority away from localities, but merely plead with his pseudo-environmentalist buddies to be a tiny bit reasonable.

    This would be a more credible position if the recommendation was for Big Al actually to promote reform of casually-worded federal legislation that has empowered pseudo-environmental obstructionists (e.g. Endangered Species Act) — even a species of cockroach has been classified as “endangered”, thereby obstructing developments that would help mere human beings.

  51. Well if I thought I could get it, I would tell Gore to get rid of the ESA, and NEPA. Both terrible pieces of legislation that have been perverted to block even good projects. I’ve never understood having to go through NEPA on a repowering project that obviously has lower emissions than the existing plant.

    Groups like Sierra Club and Greenpeace block even sensible projects for ideological reasons. Yeah, Gore should tell them to buzz off.

    Gore could help if he would sponsor objective, standard based environmental permitting regulations. I’d like to see a loser pays rule on environmental lawsuits.

  52. Odograph – no he doesn’t have to fix everything. He needs to put his own house in order first.

    Yes, it would be refreshing if Gore were FOR something. Cape Wind would be a good start.

    Cape Wind got all their permits, except for the right of way for the power line back to Nantucket, and killed by a Kennedy amendment to the USCG reathorization act. With 81% support in Massachusetts and 60% support in Cape Cod, Cape Wind is the poster child project for NIMBY.

    Standing up to his rich friends on Cape Cod and Nantucket would really be an act of courage for Al Gore. Maybe we could forgive him for his house and his globe trotting in CO2 spewing private jets.

  53. “The typical Nashville home uses about 1,300 kilowatt hours a month.”

    This is well above the national average, which is about 900/month. What accounts for the high use in Nashville?

  54. Well, there’s two ways to look at it.

    One is, “Al Gore bought a large old house and flies around the world using a lot of energy.”

    Another way to look at it is “Al Gore bought a large old house, bought the maximum renewable electricity available to him, completely renovated it, installed solar panels, received Leeds Gold Certification, and travels the world increasing global warming awareness, offsetting his own emissions, and donated the proceeds of his movie, book, Nobel Prize and speaking fees to charity, and has done more than anyone else on earth to raise awareness of these issues.”

    Yeah, it’s a big old house, but it’s also his place of business for both him, his wife and their staff. If he was a total hypocrite, he wouldn’t have done any of these things. We would all do well if people, especially the people who can most afford it, followed his lead. It will make it cheaper for the rest of it.

    If the point is that he isn’t a saint, well, what else is news? This country was founded by slaveowners who wrote that “all men are created equal.” I’m still glad they wrote it.

  55. Anon – two words: air conditioning

    CCE – Gore didn’t make the changes until he was caught red handed. He claims to be an environmentalist going back to his Harvard days and that he invented global warming (or was that the internet – I forget). He bought the house in 2002 and is just getting around to making the improvements?

    That is why this rings so hollow. DAISNAID. He probably isn’t a bad guy, but if you are going to tell other people how to live you should at least try to straighten up yourself.

  56. Birds of a feather – Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist and author, likes to lecture us on our voting and living habits. It appears he has some explaining to do also: Notes on Tom Friedman’s Carbon Footprint

    Mr. Friedman has hosted a number of documentaries on the Discovery channel including this upcoming one (my emphasis):
    In “Green: The New, Red, White and Blue” (2007) Friedman elaborates on the green technologies and efforts touched on in “Addicted to Oil” and in doing so attempts to redefine green energy as “geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic”. He explores efforts by companies and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and save money with conservation, efficiency, and technologies such as solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, and clean coal.

    And from Wikipedia: Ann and Thomas Friedman live in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. The July 2006 issue of Washingtonian reported that they own “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, currently valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.”

    Thomas Friedman’s message to the world: DAISNAID

  57. Doesn’t it bother you that you have to invert the timeline, to make Gore “caught red handed” and say that he “makes amends?”

    Fact:

    “Gore bought his multimillion dollar home in 2002 in Belle Meade, an exclusive city encircled by metropolitan Nashville, and he has been ramping up an ambitious renovation ever since.”

  58. Odo – it doesn’t bother you to stick up for this blowhard? What about Friedman?

    Doesn’t it bother you that you have to invert the timeline

    Not at all. Gore wrote Earth in the Balance 10 years before he bought the Belle Meade house. It appears that energy consumption wasn’t really much of an issue to the Gores in purchasing the energy guzzling mansion.

    They lived in the house for nearly 5 years. It doesn’t take 5 years to make energy improvements. I’m making improvements that have saved about 10-15% of my monthly electric bills and I’m doing the work myself. Pretty sure Gore isn’t up in his attic on the weekends.

    His answers are Clintonian in their reinvention of the facts. His first story was that he purchased carbon offsets, from his own company. He didn’t lead with “I’m making improvements.” The Gore’s decline to give details and costs about thier improvements. Why not? Couldn’t we all learn from Mr. Gore’s new example? Or could it be that if we got into the details we’d find out that the Gore made a bunch of calls to contractors once they were caught in the hypocrisy.

    Read the AP story again. Gore Completes Renovations

    This caught my eye: When the Gores’ heated pool is hooked up to the system later this month, their energy use is expected to decline more, his spokeswoman said.

    So Gore still heats his pool? In December? I have a small pool that has a heat pump. I’m not running it. If I need to swim I can ride my bike to the local health club. I guess AGW can’t be a serious problem if Al Gore still heats his swimming pool!

    Look at the pictures in the story. They installed solar powered roof vents and a solar array. Those improvements wouldn’t take 5 years. Solar inverters are designed to tie into existing systems. They are expandable and scalable. The Gore’s could have made those improvements years ago. I’ll give him a bit of a pass on the ground source heating system. That would take some effort.

    The story that fits the timeline is that they got caught in February and now 10 months later they’ve made improvments they should have started 5 years earlier.

  59. Maybe you miss that I actually hold these public figures in equal, mid to low, regard.

    What I’m opposing, from my perspective, is the idea that we should single out anyone to ask … as cce says … why they can’t be a saint.

    T. Friedman is not a saint! Film at 11.

    (Friedman is sometimes right, and sometimes wrong. When he is right, is sometimes productive.)

  60. BTW, your catalog of what you think Gore “should” have been able to do with his house, while also out there winning the Nobel Prize … is very amusing.

    Running around with slide shows when he could be kicking the contractor … the guy’s got seriously messed up priorities.

  61. I don’t begrudge Mr. Gore his mansion or his heated swimming pool, and he doesn’t have to be a saint – just not so much of a hypocrit.

    Gore could be right about AGW. Just because he lives a profligate lifestyle it doesn’t automatically make him wrong or diminsh the significance of his message.

    I would have had a lot more respect for him if he had just confessed and said something like “You are right. I should lead by example and try to reduce my carbon footprint. Just as I ask others to do the same.”

    Instead he attacks his critics and makes up some lame excuse about buying carbon indulgences.

Comments are closed.