Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Al Gore quagmire: to conspicuously consume -or-conspicuously non-consume
"Al Gore can consume more carbon than whole villages in the developing world. He can consume more electricity than most African schools, incur more carbon debt with one trip in a private plane than most of the earth's toiling billions will pile up in a lifetime -- and he doesn't worry. A father of four, he can lecture the world on the perils of overpopulation. Surely, skeptics reason, if the peril were as great as he says and he cares about it as much as he claims, Gore's sense of civic duty would call him to set an example of conspicuous non-consumption. This general sleeps in a mansion, and lectures the soldiers because they want tents. What this tells the skeptics is that Vice President Gore doesn't really believe the gospel he proclaims. That profits from his environmental advocacy enable his affluent lifestyle only deepens their skepticism of the messenger and therefore of the message. And when they see that the rest of the environmental movement accepts this flagrant contradiction, they conclude, naturally enough, that the other green leaders aren't as worried as they claim to be. Al Gore's lifestyle is a test case for the credibility of his gospel -- and it fails. The tolerance of Al Gore's lifestyle by the environmental leadership is a further test -- and that test, too, the greens fail. The average citizen is all too likely to conclude that if Mr. Gore can keep his lifestyle, the average American family can keep its SUV and incandescent bulbs. If Gore can take a charter flight, I don't have to take the bus. If Gore can have many mansions, I can use the old fashioned kind of shower heads that actually clean and toilets that actually flush. Al Gore looks to the average American the way American greens look to poor people in the third world: hypocritically demanding that others accept permanently lower standards of living than those the activists propose for themselves. There are gospels that can be preached by the comfortable and the well fed. But radical environmentalism is not one of them" -- journalist Walter Russell Mead writing at the-american-interest.com on June 24."
Links to Walter Russell Mead's article and 06/27/2011 follow up article appear below:
The Failure of Al Gore: Part One
The Failure of Al Gore: Part Deux