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.