Al Gore does not believe in global warming and you probably don’t either

Al Gore does not really believe that CO2 is destroying the Earth. You know how I know? Because if he really did believe that, he would act very differently. He would lower his carbon footprint to zero — now.

Instead, Al Gore flies around in a private Gulfstream that emits 9500 pounds of CO2 per hour. He has a massive mansion in Tennessee and a new one in California. Both homes emit thousands of pounds of CO2.

This post is not intended to malign Al Gore, even though it is one of my favorite sports. I would defend his right to live however he wants. He has proven to be a great capitalist and made some very wise investments, and more power to him. My point, instead, is to point out the illogic of his position and indeed the position of almost all people who say they believe that carbon dioxide emissions are destroying the planet.

Let’s say you suspect you have termites in your house. You love this house, it’s paid for, and your family lives there. You call the exterminator and he says you have termites and you must act immediately or the house will be irreparably harmed within six months. The supporting beams and the foundation could be destroyed. Every day you delay means more damage to the house.

There are three possible positions you can adopt at this point.

1)You do not have termites, and even if you do, the problem will go away on its own.
2)You may have termites — let’s call another inspector and have him check, and then even if he says there are termites let’s wait and see what happens.
3)You definitely have termites — you need to get your house tented immediately to kill the termites and stop the damage.

If you believe the evidence is overwhelming that you have termites, you have no course to take but number 3. Evidence indicates that termites never go away by themselves, and logic tells you waiting just means the damage is going to get worse. But note that the key here is that YOU have to act. You cannot ask your neighbor to deal with your termite problem for you. If the termite problem is going to be solved at your house, it involves direct action on your part. This action must show that you are acting immediately and forcefully to resolve the problem yourself. Any other behavior than your direct action would mean that you believe in either 1 or 2. No logical person would deliberately not act to save his home unless part of him believed either that there was not a problem or that the problem would go away on its own or that he should wait and see if the problem gets worse before acting.

OK, let’s consider the global warming problem. Again, there are only three possible positions you can take on the specific issue of, “is manmade CO2 causing irreparable harm to the Earth and causing global warming?”

1)Manmade CO2 is not causing irreparable harm to the Earth. CO2 is not a problem, and even if it is the Earth has self-healing mechanisms to deal with it.
2)Manmade CO2 may be a problem but we don’t have enough information yet. Let’s do more research and wait and see.
3)Manmade CO2 is definitely causing irreparable harm to the Earth. Every emission is doing more damage to the planet, and every time we drive, fly or do anything else that emits CO2 we are hurting the planet even more.

Just as in the case of the house with termites, logic would dictate different actions based on which of these three options you believe. I believe in number 1, so logic dictates I continue to act as if I believe in number 1, meaning I do nothing about rising CO2 emissions. If you believe in number 2, logic would dictate you take a “wait and see” approach and make a decision as more information becomes available.

But let’s take a look at number 3. If you really believe that every CO2 emission is hurting the planet more, you must take specific actions immediately. You must have an immediate plan to get to zero emissions in your own life.

I actually know a fair amount of people who believe in number 3 and have taken immediate steps to get to zero emissions. One guy I know sold his three cars and gets around almost exclusively by bicycle. He avoids even taking a bus because busses emit CO2. He belongs to a food cooperative and eats almost all of his food from the garden. The cooperatives only uses locally raised animals for meat. If you are importing food from other areas, where they travel to you by truck or train or airplane, you are emitting CO2. This guy is working actively to get off of the grid and to get all of his power from either wind or solar. He took out his A/C unit and installed an all-house fan, which will be solar-powered.

There is no doubt that this person is acting logically — he really believes that CO2 emissions are like termites destroying his “house” (the Earth) and he has put together a specific plan to save his house.

Now this guy occasionally flies in a commercial airplane to visit friends and he loves to ski, so he rents a car to go skiing occasionally. So even he is emitting some CO2. But the majority of his actions are so clearly in line with his belief system that, like an imperfect Mormon trying to be more like Jesus but not quite getting there yet, we should give him a pass because he clearly is trying.

So, you say you believe in global warming. Are you trying to get to zero emissions? Are you trying to save your house, the Earth? I am not talking about buying a Prius and doing recycling. I am talking about a real plan to get to zero emissions because every single particle of CO2 you emit is making the situation worse. Do you have a specific plan to get to nearly zero emissions in two years or even five years?

If you do not have such a plan, you are like the person who is hoping his termite problem will go away on its own. Your actions do not show that you truly believe that CO2 is irreparably harming the Earth. I submit to you that the actions of Al Gore — and the vast majority of climate scientists, actors and politicians who say they believe the Earth is being damaged — show they do not really believe it. Logic would dictate, based on their behavior, that they either think the Earth will heal itself or that the problem is not really as grave as they claim it is. Hypocrites? Yes. Cynical nanny-state authoritarians who force one set of rules on other people but another set of rules for themselves? Yes.

Right now, the majority of you have some objections to this post. Let’s deal with them ahead of time.

1)Al Gore is doing so much good flying around the world in his private plane that his carbon emissions are justified. Couldn’t he fly commercially and do just as much good? Does he really need two massive mansions? Couldn’t he get by with smaller houses that have smaller CO2 footprints? No matter how you slice it, there is no justification for his lifestyle if he really believes he is destroying his house (the Earth). I therefore must conclude that he does not believe what he says he believes.

2)But CO2 is pollution, and pollution is bad and must be controlled. This is a completely different argument than saying CO2 is irreparably harming the planet and causing global warming. It’s kind of like saying you have termites in a tree in your front yard — those termites can perhaps be destroyed by spraying, and you may not need to tent your house. CO2 may be causing local pollution but not be a worldwide problem leading to global warming. In that case, we would deal with it as a local problem (like smog in LA), not as a worldwide crisis.

3)But I plan on buying a Chevy Volt and I recycle and I buy organic food. The Chevy Volt is plugged into your house electrical outlet. Unless your house is powered by an alternative source of energy — and you will always use an electrical outlet power ed by an alternative source of energy and you will never use the Volt’s gas engine — you have a carbon footprint from your car. There are some studies that show that recycling increases your carbon footprint because separating out the plastic and glass and newspaper is harder than just dumping all the trash together. Is your organic food transported to you by truck? Was a tractor used at the farm where the food was grown? Sorry, you have a carbon footprint.

4)What is your deal with Al Gore? I believe in global warming and am trying to lower my carbon footprint, but it is not reasonable for me to ever get to a place where I emit no carbon at all. Isn’t that enough? I would submit to you that unless you are like my friend who has an active plan to get to zero emissions, it is not enough. Either you believe the emissions you are generating are killing the Earth or you don’t. Either you believe your house has termites or it doesn’t. I believe you should be free to live however you want. I plan on doing absolutely nothing to lower my carbon footprint, and I believe people should have the freedom to do that. However, if you truly believe that the CO2 you and your family are emitting are irreparably harming the Earth, there is no logical path for you to take except to implement — today — your plan to get to zero emissions.

5)But I vote for politicians who are doing good things to lower emissions. I am in favor of cap and trade and other schemes to lower CO2. Unless your personal actions show you have a plan to get to zero emissions, this is not enough. You really don’t believe the emissions you personally generate are hurting the Earth. If you did, you would act on a personal level — yourself with your emissions. Part of you is thinking the problem will go away on its own or that it has been exaggerated. And if that is the case, why are you voting for politicians who are doing things you don’t really believe in?

6)I think CO2 might be harming the planet, but I am not sure, and in the meantime we need to take actions just in case. There are probably a fair amount of people reading this who believe this position. This is basically like taking the preventive measure of tenting your house because you may have termites. There are several problems with this. First, tenting your house in expensive and it is a big hassle. I tented my house in Miami once, and it cost $4000 and I had to be gone for three days while the poison killed the termites. Actions to prevent global warming — just in case — are also expensive and they are a big hassle. Worst of all, they will cost a lot of people a lot of jobs. Personally, I would never have tented my house unless I were sure I had termites and I would never implement cap and trade or other measures unless I was absolutely sure CO2 would irreparably harm the planet. But that only deals with the policy prescriptions. What about in your personal life? Are you ready to move to zero emissions “just in case?” Will you quit your job and go move to a farm and grow your own food and get off the power grid “just in case” CO2 emissions are irreparably harming the planet? Most people in the “just in case” category probably are unwilling to make any major adjustments to their lives. Logic would dictate that they really are in category number 2, meaning they need more information before deciding, meaning nothing should be done until they have more information. Logic would dictate they should oppose doing anything about global warming — for now.

So, next time somebody tells you they believe in global warming, ask them, “what is your plan to immediately move to zero emissions in your own life?” If they don’t have a plan, then logic would dictate they don’t really believe that CO2 is irreparably harming the Earth. They really believe nothing should be done about global warming. I welcome them to my side on this debate.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

77 thoughts on “Al Gore does not believe in global warming and you probably don’t either

  1. I believe the gospel is true even though I don’t keep all of the commandments perfectly. I believe in global warming even I don’t do everything I could do to reduce my carbon footprint. Perhaps we can’t cast stones unless we are without sin.

  2. Chris, if you truly believe that every time you get in a car or an airplane or turn on your TV, you are harming the planet by emitting CO2, why are you doing it? I am not calling for perfection — I am calling for moving in the direction of getting better, which is what the gospel is about.

    Given that you compared belief in the gospel to belief in global warming (which I did not do in my post), let’s follow that through to its logical conclusion. Jesus Christ calls on us to be like Him. He calls on us to be perfect. But he forgives us as well, and we cannot become perfect without God’s grace. The gospel calls on us to try to get better, but everybody is also aware it is impossible to be perfect.

    A Christian who makes absolutely no effort to be like Jesus is not really a Christian. A Christian who makes some effort is getting better. A Christian who really changes his life to become like Jesus and become perfected is definitely on the right path.

    A global warming believer to does nothing (and in fact emits more carbon than the average person like Al Gore) is not really a global warming believer. How could they really believe it if they are taking active measures to destroy the planet? A person who does some recycling and buys a Chevy Volt and argues for cap and trade is doing something, and perhaps getting better, but he still falls way short and shows he doesn’t really believe what he preaches. A person who like my friend sells his cars and gets off the grid is a real believer. He is not perfect — he still flies on an airplane occasionally — but he is very, very close.

  3. You almost convince me since I’m a global warming skeptic myself. However, I really believe TV is bad for my kids yet let my kids watch it anyway. Why do I let them watch it?
    1. My husband watches TV a lot. My husband wants my kids to watch TV.
    2. TV is part of our culture and I can’t fight the culture all day long every day (no neighbors to play with, unsupervised outside play is considered unsafe, its what other kids are doing).
    3. There are positives to TV (there are more negatives than positives but there are some positives).
    4. There are other priorities sometimes that seem more important (making dinner without having a screaching toddler clinging to me).

  4. I think what Chris is saying is that we can still believe the gospel, even if we don’t spend 100% of our free time serving the Lord, and even if we don’t spend 100% of our extra money on charitable donations.

    I agree that some of Al Gore’s lifestyle is excessive. Mitt Romney’s lifestyle is even more excessive, yet I don’t go around doubting his belief in the gospel, even though he does have several elaborate mansions that a more devote Christian would give up to help the poor.

    Unfortunately, we’re all hypocrites to one degree or another. That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe certain things. That just means we fall short of the ideal.

  5. Geoff, I agree that Gore’s actions reflect his level of commitment, but it’s just silly to say that they reflect his belief. He could be completely convinced that CO2 is harming the world and he’s just too lazy or selfish to do anything about it personally; he hopes that others will take care of it. I am totally convinced that we need firefighters and police officers, but I have zero motivation to become one. Politicians are often totally convinced that we need to go to war, but they don’t volunteer themselves or their children for duty; no, they preach and promote in order to get someone else to do it.

  6. Dealing in absolutes is the easy way out of dealing with reality. Incremental gains are still gains. Line upon line Geoff. I agree is Chris. Hugh Nibley and many others in the church lamented the abusive exploitation of the planet. Having dominion over the world isn’t (just like in all positions in the Gospel) a license for unrighteous dominion.

  7. BrianJ, I have to disagree. If you really believe, with all your heart, that your emissions are destroying the Earth, how could you possibly go around generating so many emissions? You are certainly correct that he — and many other people — are just too lazy or selfish to do anything about it. He is an authoritarian who wants to impose rules on other people that he is unwilling to adopt himself. But if you talk about belief, true belief is followed by action.

    I used to not know whether there was a God. I was an agnostic. I had a conversion experience that convinced me beyond a doubt that there is a God. I have completely changed my actions because my beliefs changed.

    Again, if you truly believe something you have to show some actions that you have these beliefs or your beliefs are meaningless. As I say in comment 2, this does not mean you are perfect. It just means that your actions change in important ways if they are based on true belief.

    Your firefighter and police officer examples are interesting. You believe that if there is a fire a firefighter will come and put it out. But what if you didn’t believe that? What if your house was on fire and you lived 100 miles away from the nearest firehouse? You would become a firefighter — you would put out your own fire at your own house.

    Regarding politicians and war, yes, rotten politicians want other people to fight their wars for them. But if you really believe that the Nazis and Japanese are going to take over the world if you don’t fight them, you volunteer and you go fight them. That is what the vast majority of Americans believed in 1942, which is why almost all eligible men went off to fight World War II. Most Americans did not believe the Vietnamese or the Iraqis or the Afghanis were a threat, so they didn’t volunteer to fight them.

  8. Well put. It’s difficult however for the great un washed to see this or any truth that exposes a fault of their own. I’m sure most of your negative feedback will be typical to what is there as of this comment…”yea but I” or “what about”. You either have termites or you don’t–like I said, well put and I wished I would’ve thought of it.

  9. Hoooboy! Here we go again… 🙂

    Geoff B. exclaimed,

    I am not talking about buying a Prius and doing recycling. I am talking about a real plan to get to zero emissions because every single particle of CO2 you emit is making the situation worse.

    Unless you are living off the land in a small log cabin in the woods, it is extremely difficult and very expensive to get to zero emissions in an industrialized society such as ours. Just thought I’d put that out there, for what it’s worth.

    As for Gore, eh… whatever. I think he did the pro-AGW side a lot of damage by his movie and cheerleading. If he hadn’t been a politician it may have been different, but I think it was his ties to politics that politicized the debate so early.

    And yes I’ll agree, in some cases Gore and others of his ilk are flaming hypocrites. But you have quite a few hypocrites on your side too. Why have you never pointed them out as vehemently as you have just now with Gore?

    Hypocrisy is hypocrisy. It really doesn’t matter which side it comes from.

  10. JKS, in your example, if you really believed that TV did more harm than good as a whole to your family you would not let your family watch it. I believe drugs do more harm than good — I don’t take them. But what you really believe is that the action of throwing out your TV and not exposing your kids to ANY TV at all is more harmful to your family as a whole — at least partly because it would alienate your husband and create situations where your kids were not distracted and not exposed to popular culture — than the alternative. I fall into this category — I hate TV, but my wife likes it and it distracts the kid, and Conference is on TV twice a year, so I tolerate it. If I really, really believed that TV was an overall negative I would throw it out tomorrow.

    I really, really believe that video games are harmful to my children. They beg me to buy them. I do not allow video games in my house, and I never will.

  11. Geoff B. commanded,

    I do not allow video games in my house, and I never will.

    Ooof! Poor kids… 😀

    (That was a joke, in case it wasn’t clear.)

  12. James, I understood it as a joke. Still won’t allow videogames in my house. But if you like video games, more power to you. I support your freedom to do whatever you want with video games.

  13. Pingback: Tweets that mention » Al Gore does not believe in global warming and you probably don’t either The Millennial Star --

  14. Why do we do things we believe adamently against (even if we actually do believe we shouldn’t)? My answer – we believe, but we don’t care. I believe a lot of things that I don’t do. Why? After thinking about, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t care enough about some things to follow through.

    That said, global warming is a bunch of hooey! But Al Gore can believe in it fervently – maybe he DOES believe, he just doesn’t CARE as much as he claims to.

  15. I Know I guy who likes to chide me for not believing that the world will end Dec. 21, 2012. He has this wild superstitious belief — and will defend it to the teeth ever eager to preach all the “facts” he’s heard and read about it to those who oppose him. And yet, strangely, when he has finished his sermon on the subject, he returns to his normal routine and his life goes on blissfully as if he hasn’t a care in the world.

  16. Geoff B. grumped,

    James, I understood it as a joke. Still won’t allow videogames in my house.

    Dude! Chill. It was a joke. That means I wasn’t serious.

    Jorden F. declared,

    That said, global warming is a bunch of hooey

    So is “hooey” the technical term for it? I don’t remember seeing “hooey” in any of the scientific papers.

    (By the way, that was sarcasm. : -D )

  17. Geoff’s argument is based on the idea that if you really believe doom is imminent then the only rational response it to go to carbon zero today. His analogy of a house with termites invites us to imagine a situation where we solely control the outcome and invites us to imagine that the CO2 issue is somehow analogical.

    Since this is clearly a false assumption, the rest of the argument does not work for me as well as it does for Geoff.

    I think a better analogy would be imagining Gore as a member of a 6 billion member household. He believes we have termites so he advocates that it’s probably a good idea to start killing termines with your shoe as a good start to the handling the problem. However, he doesn’t really believe that will solve the problem and his real approach to the problem is to get all 6 billion joint home owners to tent and spray the house together — a feat he’s still working on.

    Another logical problem with Geoff’s presentation is that he is inviting us to compare not Al Gore’s beliefs with Al Gore’s actions but Geoff’s beliefs about what he figures AGW believers should believe to Al Gore’s actions. This is rationally problematic at many levels. For example, I do not recall Al Gore saying that everyone needs to individually go to zero carbon today or we’re doomed as Geoff seems to believe. I would invite Geoff to show me where Gore makes such a claim. What I remember is Al Gore claiming that this is a serious problem and that only legislation could stop it but that we can also all start doing our part now by working towards a reduced carbon footprint.

    Therefore, I am of the opinion that whether or not Geoff’s argument is sound will depend on whether or not Al Gore is actively taking steps to reduce his carbon footprint. I really don’t personally know. Al Gore’s attempts to control and remove his own carbon footprint might well be sincere, in which case, Geoff’s argument is logically flawed across the board.

    Or Gore’s efforts might just be for show, in which case I agree with Geoff completely on this part of Geoff’s point. The key point here being that I don’t know and I doubt Geoff does either. However, the fact that Geoff fails to point this out is still a logical flaw in his presentation either way.

    Also, Geoff’s presentation fails to mention that Al Gore believes in carbon offsets. Whenever I mention carbon offsets, conservatives always groan and say ‘that doesn’t work.’ (Ironic coming from people who aren’t sure what a carbon offset is when I ask — and I ask because I don’t know either!)

    But since Geoff’s argument is solely based on what Al Gore does or doesn’t believe, whether or not carbon offsets actually work is besides the point and logically irrelevant. The only thing that logically matters is if Al Gore believes they work and if he uses enough of them to get his carbon footprint down to something reasonable in his own mind. (Again, I have no idea if he does or he doesn’t.)

    In short, Geoff might be right about Gore — I actually suspect he is — but his argument fails whether or not he is correct because he is making an argument based on a false analogy.

    That being said, Gore does pretty much suck and is manipulative and therefore a liar in my opinion. However, I think the fact that Gore misrepresents things isn’t cause to therefore misrepresent him and doing so only validates Gore’s approach. So I go out of my way to not mispresent his position in things.

  18. By the way, if you want a much better argument that Al Gore doesn’t actually fully believe in everything he says about Anthropogenic Global Warming, I would suggest the following is more logically sound:

    1. Al Gore says doom is imminent if we don’t get cut back on our already high carbon out put right away
    2. Al Gore believes that even the measures we’re currently trying to put into place are insufficient (Note: I think this one is true for Gore, but not sure. It’s true for most AGW-Bs)
    3. Therefore Al Gore should be pursuing geo-engineering to buy us time
    4. Al Gore is not pursuing geo-engineering.
    5. Therefore…

  19. Let’s discuss a bit how one should act based on beliefs of immediate, irreparable harm. Let’s go back to jks’s TV analogy for a minute. You would act very differently if you believed the TV may hurt your kids eventually because some day they may see a bad show or the cumulative effects of TV watching might harm them down the road than if you believed that death rays would come from the TV and strike down your children. One is eventual and possible — the other is immediate and definite. In the first example, you might not act because we’re not really sure — in the second example we definitely would act because we don’t want the TV to send death rays to kill our kids.

    The AGW alarmist argument is all premised on the claim that action must be taken immediately because CO2 is irreparably harming the planet. Every second that we delay more CO2 is getting in the atmosphere and causing damage.

    So the rhetoric of the alarmist argument is like the second example, ie, that the death rays will leave the TV and immediately kill your kids. But yet the actions of alarmists is like the father who decides that TV may be harmful eventually but overall it’s not worth taking a baseball bat and destroying it. So, the truth is that the alarmists don’t really believe their rhetoric, and thus they don’t really act in ways that show us they believe their rhetoric by cutting back on their own carbon emissions.

    Bruce’s criticism doesn’t work precisely because of the rhetoric employed by the worst alarmists. We are told again and again that we must act immediately or we are headed for doom. If that is so, and you really believe that, the action must be immediate and individual. Let’s use the example of food storage as a comparison. We are told by the prophets that we should have at least a year’s food storage for our family. Now, if the prophets told us to have three days’ food storage, that would be one thing. But we are told a year’s food storage. That must be serious — there must be some reason for doing this. Calamities are coming. Well, if you really believe the prophets (which I do), you go about getting food storage for yourself. You take it seriously on an individual basis. You don’t wait to organize your ward or neighborhood to get food storage collectively. You do it yourself so that you are prepared. Belief in the prophets brings real action on an individual basis.

    Now what would you think if it were to be revealed that none of the members of the first presidency and the 12 apostles had any food storage at all? It would show me that their individual actions showed they had no belief in what they were preaching and therefore they really don’t believe a calamity is coming. And we shouldn’t believe it either.

    The actions of Al Gore and the other global warming alarmists indicate to me that they are exactly like prophets who preach doom but don’t really believe the doom is coming. If they really believed doom is coming they would immediately change their behavior, and go to zero carbon emissions themselves, at the very least to be good examples to those around them. Instead, they blithely fly around the world on private jets emitting CO2 by the boatload.

    It is irrelevant whether Al Gore has asked people to go to zero emissions or not. He has in fact issued many pamphlets encouraging people to ride bicycles more and build their houses out of straw (see the link at the beginning of this post for more on this). But his rhetoric makes it clear, once again, that the problem is immediate and catastrophic. The logical conclusion one must make is that if this really is true we must take immediate personal action.

    Regarding Al Gore’s personal behavior, this is exactly why I linked the second link above, which shows that Al Gore just this year bought a second massive mansion in LA IN ADDITION TO HIS MANSION IN TENNESSEE. Any claims that he is trying to lower his carbon footprint are a complete joke given his actual actions.

    I want to reiterate that Al Gore is only one example of hypocritical behavior by AGW alarmists and probably not even the worse one. The disconnect between “belief” and action on the part of those who claim we must act immediately should be plain for all to see.

  20. So if you don’t believe in my TV guilt, how about the ineffective guilt I feel about the death rays from the sun that my children get when I forget to put on sunscreen. I know the sun might kill them, my father has had three kinds of skin cancer. Yet I “forgot/didn’t bother” to put sunscreen on my kids the same day that my father had skin cancer surgery this week. Deathrays indeed.
    I don’t know about Gore. I don’t like him and I still don’t believe that he invented the internet, let alone the other stuff he says. However, he might really think global warming is a big problem and he wants to get other people to fix it through legislation, not through his curtailing his wants.
    I think Bruce Nielson’s comment about the killing termites with a shoe is pretty spot on.

  21. One problem with your argument is the assumption that a belief will lead to only one action, when in reality our actions are based upon a whole system of beliefs combined with our situation. Your logic is that if Al Gore truly believed what he was saying that he would get down to zero emissions, but as others have pointed out he may believe that his emissions in traveling to do good outweighs the small amount of carbon they contribute. He may (or may not, and neither does anyone else unless they can get inside his head) believe his own words about global warming.

    You state that you believe that video games are bad for you so you don’t have them in your house. I also have that belief. However, I have seen how my own parents lack of video games in our home growing up did absolutely nothing to prevent my brothers from becoming extremely active video game players once they left the house. I also observed how they would play video games at friends house, outside of the supervision of my parents. I reasoned the only way to keep my children from playing video games would be to follow them around all day every day for the rest of their lives. I decided that it is more important to teach my children how to manage their time and how to not become addicted to video games than to keep video games out of my house. I also decided that it was important that my children play video games where I could observe them and at least make sure the video games they are playing are okay, and so that we can discuss what video games are acceptable, what aren’t, etc. We both have the same belief, but we are taking different actions based on our whole belief system and situation. I could say that my choice is right and yours is wrong, but that assumes I know your whole situation, which I do not. Your choice may very well be the best one for your family.

    It is dangerous to assume that you know what someone “really” believes based on their actions. It would be easy for me to say that women who work outside the home do not value their families. Yet, many women are forced to work outside the home in order to provide basic necessities for their families. Their choice is motivated by the love of their familiy, the very thing I am questioning. It is impossible for me to know their whole situation and beliefs simply by observing what little I can see of their actions. The important thing is to focus on my own actions and beliefs, rather than make grand assumptions about others.

  22. Geoff B. said,

    I want to reiterate that Al Gore is only one example of hypocritical behavior by AGW alarmists and probably not even the worse one.

    Again, if you are so upset about hypocrisy, why only focus upon one half of the problem? There’s just as much hypocrisy on the AGW denier side.

    Oh wait, I forgot. It’s only the believers who are at fault. My bad.

    (More sarcasm)

  23. I think one of the best things we can do as individuals is to replace our incandescent bulbs, as they burn out, with cfls. Yeah, they have mercury, but less mercury than what is emitted to power an incandescent by coal fired plants during the cfl’s lifetime. They are also more expensive in the short run, but less so in the long run. They have nice soft light that is nearly identical to soft light incandescents, actually a range of light “harshness” now. It can really make a difference if enough people do it. Many hands make light(s) work. =:)


  24. This is silly. The fastest way to bring your carbon footprint to zero is to kill yourself. So if you really, really, really, believe CO2 emissions to be a problem, are you obligated to suicide? Of course not. The consequences of our choices have to be judged against one another. And the whole reason for the policy debate is that sporadic individual actions won’t make a difference.

    Is a person convinced that the national debt will lead to economic collapse obligated to give all of their money to the federal government? Maybe that should be the new yardstick for determining who really believes that the debt is a problem.

  25. Breitbartism strikes the bloggernacle. Geoff starts out with an accusation that by flying on private jets, Al Gore is a hypocrite and by extension does not follow the logic or the imperitives of his positions on global warming. Geoff, of course, does not mention all what Gore actually does personally to lessen his own carbon footprint nor what it is that he asks each of us to do.

    First, he does drive a hybrid and he has made his Tennessee property “carbon Neutral.” The latter means that he either produces green energy (e.g. solar or wind energy) or buys it in amounts equal to what he uses in his home.

    Second, since leaving the Vice Presidency he occasionally flies in a private jet, though he tries to fly commercially as much as he can. When he flies privately, he buys “carbon offsets” to compensate for the fuel used by the plane. In a carbon offset the money is paid to a third party that invests in renewable energy projects, reducing the need for fossil fuels.

    Third, the hypocracy part of the charge is ludicrous. What Gore has asked is that in general we reduce the CO2 levels as much as possible and in each of our particular cases we try to be as carbon neutral as possible. He is attempting to do this.

    Why did I bring Breitbart into this discussion, you might ask. Either Breitbart selectively edited the tape of Shirley Sherrod to give credence to a false charge of racism or did a real sloppy job of vetting the tape or the story. Equally regrettable were the people that assumed his story was gospel and exacerbated the harm it caused by repeating it ad nauseum (especially on Fox News) or acting on it (the NAACP and the Administration).

    Though this post was nowhere as serious as the sherrod case, it did evidence the depths to which political discourse has sunk in this country. Charges are made without serious research or validation and people are accepting them as valid because of their prejudices or intellectual laziness,

    In my field of Education we used to be inundated by multisyllabic claptrap touting the newest miracle cure for all that ails teaching and learning. Neil Postman, a favorite Professor of mine, stated that we all need a “crap detector” to separate the useful from the offal. I know I need one for most political discourse, I would hope people would take care to see that we do not need one for blogs on this iste.

  26. I used to have a wonderful Sunday School teacher — maybe the best I ever had. Turns out the guy really didn’t have a testimony of the gospel…was not a true believer in the church in any conventional sense. Did that make the gospel false? We humans are fallible. Joseph Smith was, David was, and I dare say Al Gore is. As my bishop says, even if global warming were not a fact, why shouldn’t we live prudently anyway? The earth belongs to the Lord, not us. Shouldn’t we take good care of it?

  27. Jared*, interesting you should mention death being about zero emissions. That is exactly what the most extreme environmentalists want — zero or negative population growth to save the environment. They advocate China’s forced abortion and infanticide policy to help achieve it. Death indeed is part of the anti-global warming movement.

    By the way, what is your plan to get to zero emissions soon?

  28. Jks, regarding your sunscreen example, that is exactly my point.

    If you believed that the very second your children stepped into the sun they would be struck dead you would never let them out of the house. But that is not what you believe. You believe, like most people, that skin cancer is a real problem — but the reality is not everybody who gets exposed to the sun gets skin cancer. So your kids may get cancer — but they also may not.

    Al Gore and global warming alarmists act say they believe global warming MUST be controlled now, today or the Earth as we know it is ending. But in fact they act — based on their continuing carbon emissions — like the problem is not all that serious. I therefore conclude they really don’t believe their own rhetoric.

  29. Geoff B. this is one of the best analyses of Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore vis a vis AGW commitment. Although I do not belive in AGW, I admire Ed Begley Jr due to his commitment to live according to his beliefs.

    Bruce did point out that you did not mention CO2 offsets. I feel that Al Gore is a AGW profiteer. He travels the world hyping AGW and then sells CO2 offsets, which have made him wealthy. Hypocrisy thy name is Al.

    I love the comparisons of AGW belief to the church. Makes me wonder if AGW proponents are in a way worshiping Gaia.

    Jared* (#25)- To reduce your carbon emissions to zero by killing yourself, one must ensure that the crypt is air tight. Otherwise, the methane gas from ones decomposition will escape and will cause harm to the environment. I expect the government to make excessive flatulence a crime against the enviromnent and will begin taxing our Grandfathers.

  30. Katie, returning to your #21, your point is valid — except in the situation of immediate harm. Fear of immediate harm necessarily must be followed by action — otherwise it is not believable. If your kid is playing in the street, and the street is not busy, and drivers are usually safe, you act one way. If your kid is playing in the street and you hear a Mack truck driving down the street gunning its engines, and there is a story in the newspaper about Mack truck drivers running down kids, you act another way.

    Again, to drive home this point, Al Gore’s rhetoric is that the Mack truck is about to run over all of our kids. But his actions — and the actions of almost all global warming alarmists — is that the street is actually pretty safe. So, which story are we supposed to believe?

  31. Floyd, you crack me up. Ed Begley Jr. gets a bronze star. At least he is trying — a bit. But he still flies around all the time and drives a hybrid around LA. His carbon footprint is probably higher than a lot of people reading this blog post.

  32. The whole carbon offset thing is a complete joke. I agree with the environmentalists who say it is like a Papal indulgence.

    To keep up with our Mack truck comparison, an offset is like a parent who asks their neighbor to run out into the street to rescue their kid from the speeding Mack truck rather than doing it themselves so the parent can keep on watching a TV soap opera. People who rely on offsets are showing once again that they can’t be bothered to take any action themselves to save the planet — other people must do it, and they’ll shell out a little money to cover their guilt. Again, their unwillingness to take any personal actions shows they don’t believe what they are preaching.

  33. Geoff: I think that you’ve chosen your own definition of “believe.” For you, it is inseparable from action—“true belief is followed by action”—and personal action at that. But that’s not the standard meaning of the word. (Of course you know that, otherwise it’d be silly for you to emphasize the difference between “belief” and “true belief.”)

    “Again, if you truly believe something you have to show some actions that you have these beliefs or your beliefs are meaningless.” Fine, ‘your beliefs are meaningless.’ But that doesn’t mean they are nonexistent, which is what you are arguing here. You need to choose one: either Gore’s belief is meaningless (because his actions don’t value his belief), or his belief is nonexistent (because it isn’t followed by action).

    “You believe that if there is a fire a firefighter will come and put it out. But what if….” Exactly. So let’s suppose that Gore believes that if he preaches the Green Gospel that he will convince millions of people to come out and “fight the fire” for him. Sounds like he’s putting that belief into action—and so by your definition he truly believes.

    “But if you really believe that the Nazis and Japanese are going to take over the world if you don’t fight them…” (emphasis mine). I don’t believe that and I never would. It’s silly: I’d have been one man against millions. All I really need to do is convince others to fight—millions and millions of others. Then it really doesn’t matter what I do. In fact, maybe someone else even does the convincing for me, in which case I don’t have to lift a finger—I can be an “armchair believer.”

    Thus, I reject your idea that I, personally, must go out and do the very act that I believe needs to be done in order to prove that I truly believe that it needs to be done. I can talk someone else into doing it, or I could pay them to do it—like, uh, do you truly believe that your trash needs to be taken away from your home? And don’t reply with “but if there weren’t sanitation workers,” because there are sanitation workers. Just as there are millions and millions who believe what Al Gore is saying and are changing their behaviors accordingly. Al Gore got them to take out his trash, put out his fire, fight his war….

  34. By the way, China’s forced abortion and infanticide policy”? What is the evidence that this is a national policy?

  35. Right, I think the key sentence is “…practiced occasionally by officials in remote parts of China despite its having been banned by the central government in Beijing.” One might argue that forced abortion is a result of China’s policy, but it’s misleading to say that it is national policy.

    I’ll look now at the second post.

  36. Buying “carbon offsets” is definitely Hooey.

    Beating up on Al Gore is too easy, but it’s still fun.

    And though I’m not convinced that man is causing climate change, I haven’t owned a car for four years, get around by public transportation and bicycle most of the time (between taxis and rental cars, I might average 500 miles a year), live in a small house, and sneer at all you yokels who are ruining the planet. Especially Al Gore.

  37. I will not take my carbon footprint down to zero until the day I stop exhaling. The same is true for all organisms that can be classified as members of the animal kingdom. Considering how much higher CO2 levels were in prehistoric times, and that it’s a vital component of the respiratory cycle in all living things (plants breathe it in, animals breathe it out–in case anyone forgot), I’m not convinced that it’s a pollutant.

    Meanwhile, let’s ignore the fact that the earth was warmer during the Renaissance and the Pax Romana, both high points in the history of civilization, than it is right now. Let’s ignore the fact that the Vikings called Newfoundland “vinland” because they could grow grapes there. Let’s forget how Libya during Roman times had much more vegetation than it does now, when the greenest thing there is its flag. Let’s forget all about how the warmer a climate is, the more life there is in both quantity and variety.

    If the earth is getting warmer (and most data indicates it is), is that a bad thing? Looking at how well the world managed to not burn up or flood during those past periods, I will answer that question with another question: Please, can I have some more?

  38. I agree with you Geoff. Al Gore’s “true belief” is in shearing the sheep. His real belief is that we are gullible fools he can con without even bothering to give the appearance of believing his own spiel.

    The analogy to religion is a good one. There are those who truly believe and try to live their lives showing that belief but the majority only give lip service to their “belief” in Christ.

    Most AGW “believers” are in the lip service category.They “believe”
    because it is “fashionable”
    because it is “politically correct”
    because it drives their parents nuts
    because they are too lazy to get out and become informed enough about BOTH sides of the issue to make a real decision about what they believe.
    because they are easily lead by the cynical

    This is how activists are used by the cynical:

    “…Under Münzenberg’s direction, hundreds of groups, committees and publications cynically used and manipulated the devout radicals of the West….Most of this army of workers in what Münzenberg called ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ had no idea they were working for Stalin. They were led to believe that they were advancing the cause of a sort of socialist humanism. The descendents of the ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ are still hard at work in our universities and colleges. Every year a new cohort of impressionable students join groups like the Anti-Nazi League believing them to be benign opponents of oppression…” The ‘Innocents’ Clubs’:

    Al Gore and the rest are just following in Münzenberg’s foot steps cynically leading the sheep to their next shearing. That is why they see absolutely no reason to change their lifestyle. Your are correct. The leaders do not believe a word they are uttering they just hope the ‘Innocents’ Clubs’ members will.

  39. I told my wife about the post and comments. Her comment was that Al Gore is practicing global warming priestcraft. He preaches his religion of AGW for gain.

  40. Geoff says:

    Let’s use the example of food storage as a comparison. We are told by the prophets that we should have at least a year’s food storage for our family. … Well, if you really believe the prophets (which I do), you go about getting food storage for yourself. You take it seriously on an individual basis. You don’t wait to organize your ward or neighborhood to get food storage collectively. You do it yourself so that you are prepared. Belief in the prophets brings real action on an individual basis.

    Geoff, what you have now done twice is called argument by analogy. Despite the emotional resonance analogy has with us, this is generally considered logically week. The problem with an argument by analogy is that the strength of the argument depends fully on whether or not we believe the analogy is precise on the points that matter to the discussion.

    In this case, I seems to me that neither of your analogies are precise in the one area that actually matters. Specifically both of your analogies are things you can take care of on your own whereas I am going to venture a guess that Gore does not believe that about global warming. (Remember, we are solely discussing what Gore personally believes, not any sort of objective reality.) Therefore everything else fails for me in your arguments until you shore up that weakness.

    I offered a counter analogy of Gore living in a household with everyone in the world and that he is saying stamping out termites with your shoe is a good idea, but that it’s insufficient compared to getting the whole house hold to tent their house. I think this is a much more precise analogy to the situation if we are trying to see if Gore ‘believes’ what he preaches.

    So you now rationally must do one of two things:

    First, you could establish that your analogy is more precise than mine. Good luck with that.

    Two, you can take my analogy and show that Gore isn’t doing the equivalent of stamping out enough termites with his shoe to be believable. Obviously that is a much harder argument — though perhaps still possible. But that’s the argument by analogy you’d have to make for your argument to matter to a fair minded audience.

    By the way, to follow through with my proposed analogy that I think is actually analogous — does Gore spend huge amounts of time trying to convince people to tent and spray the house?

  41. It seems to me that the biggest flaw is that you assume that AGW believers are saying that everyone must be carbon neutral. Most AGW believers know how dependent our society is on material that produces CO2 output and that it is pretty much impossible to live a carbon neutral lifestyle. The pragmatic answer that many people have is to help change society so that it has a environmentally sustainable CO2 output. Doing everything you can to help limit your CO2 output that also allows you to be a functional member of society and encouraging legislation to change the wasteful tendencies of our society it pretty much all that one can do. The hope is that with everyone doing what they can, CO2 outputs will be able to reach a sustainable level. If I lived the extremist zero emission lifestyle then my ability to influence society towards a smaller carbon footprint would be very limited from my organic tipi in the forest.
    Secondly, yes Gore should probably produce less CO2, but to say that his usage a CO2 shows that he doesn’t believe what he says is just wrong. For example, I am sure you believe that world poverty is an immediate and dooming issue. Every days more and more innocent children suffer and die because of the poverty that they are born in. Christ taught that we should help the poor and the sick and I believe that we should and I am sure you do too. By your logic if you don’t give all of your resources to end the immediate suffering and dying of innocent children then you do not really believe in what Christ says. The truth is that we believe in it we just fall short of what is commanded of us. We should help out the poor and sick more often, but we get bogged down by the thought that one person cannot really fix the problem and by our own selfish desires to get a new Ipad. Until you are able to live perfectly by everything that you profess to believe, then you really don’t have any right to criticize Gore for not living perfectly in something that he believes.

  42. Erik, I answer some of your concerns in the numbered sections at the end of my original post.

    Regarding the issue of world poverty, we get back to the issue of what one really believes and what actions should take place based on those beliefs. Again, let’s go to the actual claims of AGW alarmists. Their claims are that manmade CO2 is causing irreparable harm to the world — unprecedented harm — and that we must act immediately to save the planet. If you really believe this, it means you must take drastic personal action or else the world is going to die.

    How would a person who really believed this behave? For one, he would not fly around in his personal jet making the situation worse. Second, he would not have TWO huge mansions pumping out thousands of pounds of CO2. A person who really believed this would make a concrete plan to lower his personal emissions — in addition to trying to lower the emissions of those around him. If I really believed that my emissions were destroying the planet causing an unprecedented catastrophe, I would make such a plan today.

    Christ’s church on the Earth today tells us how we should behave if we want to help take care of the poor. We should pay tithing and generous fast offerings. We should perform service for the sick and less fortunate. These are clear, tangible steps. Some people, including myself, do more, and that is also a sign we are acting in accordance with our beliefs. Should we all become like Mother Theresa? Interestingly, I actually pondered this a bit before I got baptized. I did a lot of thinking about it and even talked to my bishop at the time. His answer still holds true for me today: the Church asks for us to pay tithing, pay fast offerings and do other volunteer work as we can but does not ask us to abandon our families and go work in a ghetto.
    So, according to the belief system of the organization to which I belong, I am acting in a way that shows I actually believe what I say I believe.

    Al Gore does not act in a way that shows he believes what he is preaching. If he did, his behavior in his personal life would be completely different.

  43. So it sounds like you have been able to live with not changing everything in your life to help the sick and the needy even though it is an urgent and unprecedented dilemma by saying that you give a little more than the church requires. I can agree with that and it highlights my point that one doesn’t need to give absolutely everything they have for something they believe in. They just needed to do what the can with what they have in a practical way. You can believe in Christ and not help everyone else every second of the day and you can believe in AGW and not live a zero emission lifestyle. You have your excuses why you don’t give all of you money and time to help those who are in need even though I am sure you believe it is urgent, irreparable, and unprecedented and I am sure Al Gore has his excuses why he goes around in a jet.

  44. Erik, I would refer you to my other post on the issue of beliefs leading to action. In addition, the poor we always have with us — global warming is unprecedented, at least according to the claims AGW believers.

    I happen to disagree and posit, like Bjorn Lomborg, that money and time spent on the nonexistent global warming problem is time and money not spent on the real problem of poverty.

  45. Geoff, I agree with you that Lomborg probably addresses this issue the most pragmatically of any major commentator/author, but he doesn’t say the global warming problem is nonexistent. He basically says that it’s not cost-effective to try to prevent it, given all the unknowns. We’re far better off adapting to climate change. I don’t think anyone seriously disagrees that the wealthiest nations also have the most effective environmental protection, which is the basic argument for economic growth when discussing environmental issues.

    In your introduction, you characterized Gore as a “great capitalist” and I’m not sure whether you meant that as a compliment or a criticism. Gore’s VC fund focuses on capturing regulation; i.e., his investment philosophy focuses on opportunities created by government action. This is consistent with the “great capitalists” who developed railroads, mass media (especially radio/TV), energy and mining companies, investment banks, etc., but leveraging government regulation hopefully isn’t the model you would like to see emulated or expanded. Or is it?

  46. Annegb,

    I might as well offend both sides. 😉

    Mitt Romney does not believe in AGW, so this is logically irrelevant to the argument being made since we are only interested in one’s actions compared to their self-proclaimed beliefs.

  47. Geoff, any post that refers to Lomborg is an excellent post!


    However, while I agree with you that Lomborg probably addresses this issue more pragmatically than any other major commentator/author, he doesn’t say the global warming problem is nonexistent. He basically says that it’s not cost-effective to try to prevent it, given all the unknowns. We’re far better off (for economics and human health) adapting to climate change. Along these lines, I don’t think anyone seriously disagrees with the proposition that the wealthiest nations also have the most effective environmental protection, which is the basic argument for economic growth when discussing environmental issues.

    In your introduction, you characterized Gore as a “great capitalist” and I’m not sure whether you meant that as a compliment or a criticism, although your grammar made it sound like praise. Gore’s VC fund focuses on capturing regulation; i.e., his investment philosophy focuses on opportunities created by government action. This is consistent with the “great capitalists” who developed railroads, mass media (especially radio/TV), energy and mining companies, investment banks, etc., but leveraging government regulation hopefully isn’t the model you would like to see emulated or expanded. Or is it?

    As for Gore, I don’t think you can rely on snippets of media coverage to make an informed judgment about whether his lifestyle is consistent with his beliefs. Besides, he’s been working on this issue for decades–at least since he was a college student, when his lifestyle generated far less CO2. Yet he argues his net CO2 emissions are lower now because of all the offsets he buys–which I think is a reasonable argument. I realize several posts have criticized offsets, including yours, but apart from using pejorative adjectives such as “hooey,” no one has made a cogent argument against them.

    Offsets are how ecosystems function. Here’s one simple example: Each human body creates biological waste; we then offset it with sewage systems. In nature, animal waste is offset by plants that consume it as fertilizer. If everyone offset his/her CO2 emissions, we wouldn’t have a CO2 problem (regardless of whether increased CO2 causes global climate change).

    To the extent Gore and other environmentalists (my favorite hypocrite isn’t Gore but Thomas Friedman) use more than “their share” of the world’s resources, we could conclude they don’t believe what they write. OTOH, if their work produces significant reductions in CO2 (which it no doubt does), then a more fair way to characterize their CO2 emissions is as an investment–one that provides a substantial return. IOW, if Gore flies a private plane to a conference that leads to raising millions of dollars to develop better solar energy, then the investment of a little more CO2 is well worth the dividends.

    While I generally agree with conservative positions, I also find many of them ill-considered and self-defeating. The knee-jerk critique of “offsets” is one of the worst of the bunch.

    Just saying…


  48. But somebody said he was more excessive. How is he? I don’t care if it’s irrelevant. I’m curious. Not offended. I really want to know. I would never have thought that.

  49. How does anyone know what Mitt Romney believes on a given political issue?

    (My apologies about the double post above. My browser said the first one didn’t go through, so I revised and sent the second).

  50. Well for heaven’s sake. Ok—- “I agree that some of Al Gore’s lifestyle is excessive. Mitt Romney’s lifestyle is even more excessive, . . .” Tim, comment #4—-Tim, what are you talking about??? Go find Tim and make him explain this.

  51. Annegb, Tim’s comment was a drive-by jab which most- if not all- of us ignored after skimming over it.

    Though I agree more with Bruce’s alternative analogy and argument than Geoff’s, Geoff’s overall point is an excellent one. The excuses people here are making for Gore are just as laughable as the excuses we all make in our own lives. “Well it’s hard…”, “Nobody could really get to zero…”, “He buys carbon offsets…”

    All bullcrap. Every single one.

    Leave Al Gore aside for a moment (and his sizable financial stake in Global Warming hysteria). The larger point is this: If we believe something to the core, our every action will reflect that belief. If our every action does not reflect that believe, we do not believe it to the degree we claim to. Is it a mighty change of heart, or just a so-so, kinda change of heart?

    I do my home teaching. I hate it. And I’m not really thrilled when my home teachers come over. I do it because it’s a commandment, and one not major enough to warrant Moroni’s prayer test. I believe home teaching bears good fruit. But I don’t BELIEVE in home teaching to my core. Thus, it is not as big a priority as it might otherwise be.

    My neighbor, however, does. Because after many decades of inactivity, it was persistent, loving home teaching that brought him back. His belief in home teaching is fervent. He is the model home teacher- even to the point of mild annoyance on the part of the families he home teaches. They love the guy, but dang. Things like stats of month’s end are not concerns because he’s already done it. Missed work to do it. Missed holidays to do it. It is foremost on his mind, and everybody who knows him knows it.

    Look at me and my neighbor. Which one of us truly believes in the absolute necessity of home teaching?

  52. Tossman, thanks for bringing some actual common sense to this discussion.

    Let me use another analogy (Bruce, stop your puking!).

    Let’s say you are a student at the U. You are taking a “biology of climate change” class from a AGW believer teacher. He spends the entire semester putting forward the basic global warming alarmist position. The ice caps will melt. Polar bears will die. Hurricanes will increase. We need URGENT action of we will have unprecedented earthwide calamities. Blah, blah, blah. At the end of the semester you raise your hand and say, “OK, Mr. Professor, I am almost ready to believe you. Tell me: what do you do in your personal life at home to get to near zero emissions.” If the professor shifts uncomfortably in his seat and mumbles something about recycling and thinking of buying a Prius, you know one thing about his level of beliefs. Basically, he doesn’t believe what he says he believes. If the professor proudly says he bikes to work every day, just installed a solar-power generator, has his own windmill, eats food from his large private garden and has cut his CO2 emissions in the half in the last two years (by his estimates), you know something else about his belief system.

    Common sense dictates that action follows beliefs.

  53. Geoff, your premise is flawed here. While there may be some AGW proponents who advocate zero CO2 emissions, few if any scientists advocate this. For one thing, it’s impossible; all animals (including humans) exhale CO2. For another, plants need CO2. There is evidence that higher CO2 levels (to a point) improve plant growth. It is historically high–and rising–CO2 emissions that are the problem.

    Americans produce about twice as much CO2, per capita, as Germans or Italians, and about three times the per capita emissions of the French or Swiss. Those countries are closer to sustainability in many other ways, as well, but with respect to CO2, their levels of emissions are barely, if at all, troublesome. So while I agree that your professor might not believe what he says if he lives in traditional suburbia (especially in Utah, which has the largest average home size in the U.S.), drives the traditional SUV or large pick-up, eats mostly meat, etc. But if he lives in a condo, drives a hybrid (or uses public transportation), and otherwise lives frugally, he would be living consistent with his beliefs (unless he’s an irrational zero-CO2 advocate).

    More importantly, if he’s spending his life educating people about the consequences of their lifestyles, he’s doing far more for the environment than the hermit who lives a non-CO2 emitting lifestyle.

    The home teaching example is interesting because the “model” home teacher apparently voices his convictions–everybody who knows him knows it. Would he be nearly as influential if he did home teaching quietly, with no one noticing? He might visit his own people, but he wouldn’t do anything to motivate others, so he would actually be less influential than someone such as Tossman who didn’t believe as “fervently” in home teaching yet spoke up to encourage others (and himself) to make their visits. So even if Tossman missed a family or two once in a while, he would actually be doing more for the HT effort than the guy who always got 100% but never spoke up about it.

  54. Americans produce about twice as much CO2, per capita, as Germans or Italians, and about three times the per capita emissions of the French or Swiss. Those countries are closer to sustainability in many other ways, as well, but with respect to CO2, their levels of emissions are barely, if at all, troublesome.

    It’s worth mentioning here that France gets 75-80% of its power from nuclear energy. So why don’t we Americans push for more reactors of our own? Until we get solar energy collectors into orbit, nuclear is the cleanest and most efficient energy source available. Yet we are so paranoid about it that most people don’t even consider it. Even if it wasn’t for the sake of a cleaner environment with less CO2, we should be serious about harnessing more nuclear power. And if you mention Three Mile Island or Chernobyl, those places only had problems because basic safety standards (especially at Chernobyl) were not being followed.

    But if we’re serious about having a cleaner world, we would be serious about pursuing the nuclear option.

  55. Jonathan N, if you read the entire thread I point out many times that the point is to show sincerity in moving toward lowering your personal emissions. It is impossible to get to zero emissions unless you kill yourself. But, as discussed way, way up there, a person living “off the grid” and getting around by bicycle emits lower emissions than one who flies around to conferences where like-minded people sitting around lamenting that cap and trade won’t pass while they emit tons of carbon. Your personal lifestyle is a relevant factor, I believe strongly. You are certainly welcome not to believe it, but this and my other post are all built on the premise that we should judge global warming alarmists’ sincerity based on their actions in their personal lives, not on what they say while sitting around a coffee shop in Copenhagen (after having flown there on their private jets).

  56. Jonathan N. said

    “The home teaching example is interesting because the “model” home teacher apparently voices his convictions–everybody who knows him knows it. Would he be nearly as influential if he did home teaching quietly, with no one noticing?”

    I don’t mean to hijack this thread with side conversations about my home teaching neighbor (although Bruce Neilson has already hijacked the thread by bumping it with his own post), but I owe it to my neighbor to clarify.

    This “model” home teacher does not voice his convictions. In fact, he’s also a model of humility. People know his convictions because they can see it in him. You also hear about it from his companion (bless the poor guy’s heart) and this man’s families. If my analogy has a sub-point it is that this guy isn’t in it for the ego trip.

  57. I completely agree, Geoff. Nobody pays attention when I say this, but if they turned down the lights at Vegas and Times Square, how much would that save? I drive a little Buick Century. What does Streisand drive? All those Gore worshippers drive to the Oscars in their limos. Water? Swimming pools?

    I was surprised to hear Mitt’s as rich as Al Gore.

    Let’s talk rock concerts for wasting energy. Or weddings!

    Don’t lecture me. I don’t care how the rich spend their money as long as they don’t tell me how to spend mine. I re-cycle. I have thos weird light bulbs (not the whole house, but still). My yard is a rain forest of its own, lots of trees that don’t need a lot of watering. You guys have ruined leaving the water on while I brush my teeth for me. Thank you very much.

    Good topic.

  58. Annegb, I liberated you from moderation. Our software is really, really weird. Sometimes I get put in moderation, and I’m an administrator! Sorry.

  59. It’s all right. I deserve it for all the times I SHOULD have been there. Hey off the subject, do you ever hear from Bryce? I need him to fix our blog. Got messing around and can’t fix it.

  60. Hi Geoff. Yes, I’ve read the other posts, and I agree that one’s personal lifestyle is a reflection of one’s sincerity, but I think it’s irrational to conclude that one can’t be sincere about reducing emissions if one uses a private jet, to use your example. For one thing, private jets can be more efficient than commercial travel, but more importantly, there are many examples of using resources in the short term to save resources in the long term. A hybrid car consumes more resources in manufacturing but uses far less fuel in the long run. A wind generator is relatively expensive and uses many resources to build and install (on a per kilowatt basis), but theoretically in the long run it will pay for itself. So why not recognize that a sincere person can generate high CO2 emissions for travel (even to Copenhagen) in order to produce technology or political agreements that reduce CO2 longterm?

    This blog includes criticism of offsets but no rational examination of that issue, either. You originally referred to your friend who strives to emit low CO2 yet flies to visit people or rents a car to go skiing. Maybe he also buys offsets for these activities, but if not, isn’t that worse than someone (e.g., Gore) who buys offsets that exceed his/her total CO2 emissions? If one’s net CO2 emissions are zero or negative, what difference does it make how much one emits? It’s quite possible that Gore’s net CO2 “account” is lower than that of your friend who bikes around and eats local food.

    Most people in the world who have zero or close to zero CO2 emissions are oblivious to the issue because they’re poor and uneducated. There are some people, such as your friend, who strive for zero emissions by essentially rejecting technology (or ignoring the high CO2 content of solar and wind manufacturing/materials). On the other hand, there are many sincere people who invent, develop, fund research into and promote/sell/legislate methods of reducing CO2 emissions and/or absorbing excess CO2. In your paradigm, you would say the latter effort is insincere, because you focus solely on emissions.

    To summarize, the fundamental fallacies of your premise are first, you look at short-term instead of long-term (consumption vs. investment), and second, that you look only on the emission side of the equation, not the absorption side. That’s why I suggest, assuming the third case in your original post (where the problem is CO2 emissions), that one’s sincerity should be based on the net effect on emissions of one’s lifestyle. By this measure, Gore and others like him are plenty sincere.


  61. annegb said,

    How do you justify Vegas?

    It was founded by Mormons? 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  62. Well, there are a couple of contributing factors that are damaging the earth.
    Yes I think it’s pretty clear that Global Warming is not caused by Co2’s alone, Co2’s are just a sticker to the problem. Global Warming as we know it is a cycle that the earth has undergone in the past. Yet I believe there is sufficient evidence that indicates that since the industrialized era started, the earth’s global climate has faced an increased level of warmth if we can call it that? OR maybe not, it might just all be a small coincidence of which surprisingly the far right tends to support.

    But let me connect the dots here. Even if Global Warming was not an eminent threat, there are a number of possible, cheaper solutions out there. Solutions that will not only be better for your pocket, but as well as society and the environment. After all we are LDS aren’t we and the caring of the earth is part of our religion, shouldn’t we seek for the best alternatives for everyone as a whole?
    Co2’s come in large from the fuel we use and burn. Sweden and Germany depend on Bio-diesel a lot, which is still not the BEST solution but a whole lot BETTER than Co2’s. It is cheaper to your pocket as well.

    We fail to understand WHY we depend so much on oil when there actually is better alternatives. We can blame the corporations or politics that drive this market. There’s even the alternative of using algae and waste.

    I feel that we focus too much on criticizing instead of finding solutions. I’m all for a better alternative regardless if there is Global Warming or NOT.

    Also the Deforestation of the Amazon does not help at all to the cause.

    I’m pretty content to see the Church making an official move onto environmental friendly ideas such as building what we call “Green” chapels and buildings, not sure how Glenn Beck would feel about that maybe not too happy but the Church is doing it because it RECOGNIZES there is a need for it.

    Alright my .02 cents.

  63. Green buildings only make sense if the economics of the systems give you a postive return-on-investment. IE, is there a NET savings over the life of the extra equipment you have to buy, taking into account all factors? IE, up front costs now, plus increased maintenance (or less the decrease in maintenance), less the savings from lower utility bills.

    If you SAVE money in the long run (over the life of the building/systems), then I’m all for it. If not, I’m against it.

    If I remember one of the articles on the church’s “green” chapel, the extra up front cost of the systems was like $300,000.00 (solar panels, plus all the associated controls and hardware.) You have to save a lot in monthly utility bills to pay that back in a reasonable amount of time.

  64. CO2 is not the gas most worrysome, it’s methane, which has a far greater thermal mass than CO2, and machines don’t emit it, live stock does. The rapid growth in the third world is driving demand for live stock which in turn pushes demand for cattle which produce methane. So if you were really concerned about global climate change you’d stop eating meat and shut down the third world.

  65. You know, we do our part to reduce global warming–we generally eat meat once or twice a week (at the most), we turn our lights and computers off, we live in a condo in a relatively densely-populated urban area, we have one car that we rarely use (instead biking–including to Church whenever possible–walking, or taking public transportation (which I realize produces CO2, but I’m not shooting for 0)).

    All that said, though, there is a collective action problem. Even if I were to reduce my carbon to zero, that would have virtually no impact on the world. And that, I think, is where the problem the world finds itself in differs from the termite example where the homeowner can presumably fix the problem unilaterally.

    With the collective action issue, one could believe firmly in global warming, be sure it is hurting her, and still do nothing. She’d do nothing, not necessarily out of laziness or lack of conviction, but because changing her behavior would represent a real cost to her, but any benefit (and note that the benefit from her acting alone would be approaching zero) would be shared equally by everybody. That is, any benefit would be primarily a positive externality. While nice for the rest of the world, it’s not so nice to her.

    And that is why cajoling and shaming and government regulation are probably the only way to fix the problem: unless a substantial percentage of people act in unison, there’s little incentive for anybody to act.

Comments are closed.