NY Times Surprisingly Asks ‘Is the Carbon-Neutral Movement Just a Gimmick?’
The reader is formally cautioned to prepare his or herself for an alternate reality. You have been warned.
I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked to find the New York Times asking the following question on a Sunday morning:
But is the carbon-neutral movement just a gimmick?
Is this possibly a sea change in media coverage on this issue, or just an olive branch cynically tossed to create the illusion of balance?
Regardless of the answer, although Andrew C. Revkin’s “Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green?” fell short of exposing all the hypocrisies concerning this matter, it was nonetheless surprising to see a Times writer offer the following opinions about such a controversial and polarizing subject (emphasis added throughout, h/t Glenn Reynolds):
Some believe it helps build support, but others argue that these purchases don’t accomplish anything meaningful — other than giving someone a slightly better feeling (or greener reputation) after buying a 6,000-square-foot house or passing the million-mile mark in a frequent-flier program. In fact, to many environmentalists, the carbon-neutral campaign is a sign of the times — easy on the sacrifice and big on the consumerism.
Shocking, wouldn’t you agree? Marvelously, Revkin was just getting warmed up. Pay particular attention to his continued use of environmentalists as his sources. This made the piece even stronger given the audience:
At this rate, environmentalists say, buying someone else’s squelched emissions is all but insignificant.
“The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences back before the Reformation,” said Denis Hayes, the president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant-making group. “Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins.”
“This whole game is badly in need of a modern Martin Luther,” Mr. Hayes added.
Of course, this wonderful analogy has been made before. However, it is all the stronger coming from such a green source, wouldn’t you agree?
Also of note was a bit of a slap at some of the more visible global warming alarmists even though none was named:
Michael R. Solomon, the author of “Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being” and a professor at Auburn University, said he was not surprised by the allure of the carbon-offsetting market.
“Consumers are always going to gravitate toward a more parsimonious solution that requires less behavioral change,” he said. “We know that new products or ideas are more likely to be adopted if they don’t require us to alter our routines very much.”
Couldn’t you substitute the name Al Gore – or any number of famous alarmists – for the word “consumers” in the preceding quote? After all, when Gore spoke to Congress last month, he was asked to sign a pledge to bring his energy usage in his own home down to the level of the average American’s, and he refused.
But Gore isn’t the only alarmist being asked to sign such a pledge as the Washington Times reported last week (emphasis added):
A leading skeptic of global-warming science is challenging celebrity activists such as Al Gore and Sheryl Crow to lower their "carbon footprint" to the same level as the average American by Earth Day in April 2008. "I simply believe that former Vice President Al Gore and his Hollywood friends who demand we change the way we live to avert this over-hyped 'crisis' not only talk the talk, but walk the walk," said Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican.
"How hard is it for these elitists to become as frugal in their energy consumption as the average American? I think the American public has a right to know they are being had."
A so-called "Gore Pledge" was introduced last month when the former vice president appeared before a Senate committee to discuss his views on climate change. Mr. Inhofe asked Mr. Gore to sign the pledge to reduce his use of products that produce greenhouse gases, but he declined, instead citing alternative carbon trade-offs.
Mr. Gore says he pays a self-imposed "carbon tax" to offset the environmental impact of his large home and global travels.
With that in mind, the “consumers” being spoken of in this Times piece aren’t John and Jane Q. Public. They are indeed the hypocritical, wealthy media elites and Hollywoodans that are asking Americans to make personal sacrifices in order to solve a problem that we’re not sure actually exists while they burn significantly greater amounts of fossil fuels stating that it’s okay because they purchase carbon credits that are purely symbolic.
Regardless, Revkin and the Times are to be applauded for the honesty in this piece unless it is indeed just a token of balance in a seemingly endless cache of alarmism.
As always, we will know in the fullness of time.