March 8, 2007
By Helle C. Dale
Religious intolerance is associated in the minds of many today
with Islamic radicalism. Yet, there is a Western variety on the
rise that has to concern us greatly as well -- and it is not
climate change orthodoxy. Challenge the belief that the Earth is
warming dangerously due to human activity, or criticize any of its
high priests, and the wrath of true believers will be visited upon
This troubling fact was brought forcefully home recently to the
Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a smallish think tank
dedicated to energy research and located in Nashville, former Vice
President Al Gore's hometown. After watching the over-the-top
acclaim accorded Mr. Gore's so-called documentary "An Inconvenient
Truth" at the Oscars, staff members had the bright idea of checking
on the Gore family's energy usage. As it turned out, the Gore
mansion interestingly uses 20 times more electricity than the
average American home.
Little did the staff anticipate that by posting the facts of the
Gore family's bloated and certainly hypocritical energy consumption
on their Web site, they would create an international firestorm,
become the subject of death threats, vicious verbal abuse and
almost see their Web site shut down because of the onslaught.
According to the center's spokeswoman, Nicole Williams, a deluge of
calls and e-mail have flowed in from all over the world, as far
away as Germany, Australia, Turkey and Latin America.
"Conspiracy theorists have made up all sorts of stories about
us, who we are and who we are backed by," Ms. Williams says. "Our
president once had an internship at AEI, and now they say we are
funded by AEI. Personally, I have been asked 'whose whore are you?'
I have been called 'a stupid redneck,' 'liar,' [and some profane
names]. I have also been told that I 'had better watch out.' People
have posted personal information about us individually on the Web."
The facts that led to Mr. Gore deserving "a gold statue for
hypocrisy" are these: Despite the fact that Mr. Gore in his movie
hyperbolically calls climate change "the most important moral,
ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced,"
his sentiment has not spurred him or his family to change their
According to data gleaned by the Tennessee Public Policy Center
from Nashville Electric Service, which supplies the Gore mansion in
Belle Meade near Nashville, the Gores burned 221,000 kilowatt-hours
in 2006, more than 20 times the national average of 10,656 kwh. Not
only that, but Mr. Gore's electricity consumption increased
substantially between 2005 and 2006. And in addition to the nearly
$30,000 the Gores pay in electricity bills a year, they pay an
average of $1,080 on natural gas usage per month.
"An Inconvenient Truth" is fast becoming a primary text for the
environmental movement. It is now mandated viewing in the
schools of several European countries, like Great Britain and
Norway. Yet the movie's producer, Mr. Gore is personally
responsible for greenhouse gas emissions on an epic
Now, readers of The Washington Times will recall that it
is not the first time that Mr. Gore has displayed an astonishing
gap between theory and practice. Who can forget the image of Mr.
Gore floating beatifically in a canoe in New Hampshire in the 2000
election? Inquiries by an enterprising reporter for The
Times uncovered that the river had to be dammed by the U.S.
Park Service to raise the water table, which produced enough draft
to float Mr. Gore's boat, so to speak.
Mr. Gore claims that it does not matter how much energy he burns
because he buys Carbon Emission Offsets, a concept that used to be
popular with the right and now has been taken up by Mr. Gore and
friends. It means that wealthy consumers like Mr. Gore pay a fee to
splurge, which is then invested in reducing carbon emissions in the
developing world, allegedly a zero-sum game. Mr. Gore's money stays
in the family, though. The company he deals with is called
Generation Investment Management, LLP. Based in London and
Washington, its chairman and founding partner is none other than Al
"I think of carbon offsets as 'indulgences,' " says Ms. Williams
of the Tennessee Center for Public Policy Research, referring to
the practice of the medieval Catholic Church selling the
forgiveness of sins. What we need in environmental affairs,
perhaps, is a reformation that will upend the orthodoxy and bring
people back to their senses.
Helle Dale is director of the Douglas
and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage
First appeared in the Washington Times
Religious intolerance is associated in the minds of many today with Islamic radicalism. Yet, there is a Western variety on the rise that has to concern us greatly as well -- and it is not climate change orthodoxy. Challenge the belief that the Earth is warming dangerously due to human activity, or criticize any of its high priests, and the wrath of true believers will be visited upon you.
Helle C. Dale
Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy
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