A conservative think tank called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research claims that Gores 20-room mansion uses more electricity each month than the average American family uses in a year. Plus, the natural gas bills for Gores home and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year -- in balmy Tennessee. His combined electrical and gas bills for 2006 came to nearly $30,000.
Gores peeps claim that his electric bill is sky-high because he pays a hefty green rate to subsidize wind power. That, and the fact that his rambling home also houses his offices.
Gore‘s defenders claim that the exposè is just a way for right-wingers to divert attention from the threat of global warming. But that‘s like saying that Don Imus was just cracking a harmless joke. Getting caught red-handed with a $30,000 utility bill doesn‘t make it sound like Gore is singing along with the choir he‘s conducting, even if he does pay extra to go green.
That‘s the great disorder of our times: the idea that everyone else should do something about global warming, but not me. If Al Gore is sincere that we face “a global emergency,“ then shouldn‘t he be living the simple life he advocates for others? Recall that Gandhi gave up all his possessions except for a rice bowl, his spinning wheel and a robe to dramatize his cause.
One good thing to come out of the controversy, however, is that of publicizing the idea of a carbon neutral lifestyle. This means living in a way that offsets CO2 greenhouse gas emissions created by your way of life.
The idea is to neutralize the effect of driving around in your gas hog or cranking up your thermostat all winter by doing something nice for Mother Nature as a make-good.
Becoming carbon neutral is a new way of life for those who want to get personally involved in the fight against global warming.
Considering that 25% of greenhouse gases come from our personal activities (driving to work, heating your home), it makes sense that we as individuals should take action. Its not just the governments problem or industrys problem -- it‘s our problem.
According to www.self.org, a carbon-neutral website: The average U.S. citizen produces five tons of CO2 a year from the use of fossil fuels for their personal use, through electricity, home heating, and in vehicles and airplanes. This includes all America‘s babies and grannies, so a typical working householder might produce 10 or 15 tons a year.“
Fortunately, a carbon neutral way of life involves taking some fairly simple actions. The idea is to figure out how much CO2 your lifestyle generates, and then do something to offset it -- something that wouldn‘t have happened unless you took action:
Plant trees: they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
Support wind and solar projects. In Traverse City, 110 homeowners and 15 businesses subscribe to Light & Powers Green Rate. This saves three tons of coal burned for power each year, and prevents the release of 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by choosing wind power.
Go green with new appliances such as solar or on-demand hot water heaters and energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.
Make your next vehicle more earth-friendly with a hybrid or high-mileage car.
There are no end to ideas on the Internet for becoming carbon neutral. Spend a moment on Earth Day to Google the subject if youd like to do your bit.
True, theres some spotty thinking behind the carbon neutral movement. For instance, theres no way we‘re ever likely to live as lightly on the earth as the Australian aborigines or the average citizen of India, no matter what we do. A high level of greenhouse gases is hard-wired into the American way of life, and all the good intentions and actions we might pursue arent going to neutralize that fact, short of going back to the Stone Age. Which, come to think of it, might be our next stop if the earth‘s fever keeps rising.
And does Al Gore really need that palace hes living in down in Tennessee? As noted by some bloggers, Al and Tipper could downsize to a still-mammoth home of say, 4,000 square feet, and do a better job of walking the walk while talking the talk.
Perhaps a carbon neutral society is just another utopian dream that gets tripped up by comfort-loving human nature. Still, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and thats what were trying to do to end global warming -- just taking a step in the right direction.