Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, August 24, 2007

Greens With Green

Can you be green when you've got lotsa green?

It used to be that being megawealthy meant being able to burn through resources with gay abandon, and shopping at the Big 'n Tall store for your carbon footprint. Just check out this handy table, courtesy of The Wealth Report in today's WSJ:

Boats 186-Foot Yacht 20-Foot Boat,
150-HP Motor
Fuel Used Per Hour at Cruise Speed 224 gallons 4 gallons
C02 Generation 2.3 tons/hour 0.04 ton/hour
Jets Gulfstream G400 Boeing 777
Fuel Use Per Passenger Per Hour 100 gallons 6 gallons
C02 Emissions Per Hour one ton per passenger 0.06 ton per passenger
Sources: Estimates by Carbon Fund, Boston Whaler, V1 Jets, Carbon Fund, Boeing

Oh, ouch, Bunny! Do you think we should ask the servants to dial it back a bit?

Some wealthy just blow off the guilt and leave the greening to the little people, while others make a stab at correcting for their indulgences, buying carbon offsets, using their yachts to gather ocean temperature and salinity data for scientists, and building houses like this:
The U.S. Green Building Council has certified at least three mansions for being leaders in environmental design, including one owned by Ted Turner's daughter, Laura Turner Seydel, and her husband, Rutherford, in Atlanta. [How can you not be rich with a name like Rutherford Seydel?] The 7,000-square-foot-plus house, called EcoManor, is equipped with 27 photovoltaic panels on the roof, rainwater-collecting tanks for supplying toilet water, and "gray water" systems that use water from the showers and sinks for the lawn and gardens. The top of the house is insulated with a soy-based foam that is more efficient than fiberglass. The home has 40 energy monitors and a switch near the door that turns off every light in the house before the family leaves.

Mr. Seydel says the couple's energy bill is about half that of comparable homes.
All this is commendable because we are told to be good stewards of God's gifts to us, and there's a host of new businesses forming to salve the guilt of Greens with Green. But we are so off-base on all this.

The Greens with Green aren't the problem; the little people are the problem. In this case, the societies that are still dependent on wood, coal, charcoal and low-grade petroleum products for most of their fuel -- that would be China, India, most all of Africa and South Asia and lots of South America.

That's where the pollution comes from, that's where the carbon gets pumped into the atmosphere. The way to solve the problem is to make it possible for the people in these societies to make money and have a political voice.

Greens with Green, however, are usually too busy funding the groups that are working to stop the development of third world countries in the name of the environment -- from China's massive Three Canyons Dam to small hydroelectric and industrial projects in off the beaten track countries -- not seeing that holding back progress is holding back the process of moving to more efficient fuels.

Funding the industrialization of the third world would be a fine way for the rich to offset their massive carbon burns, but chances are, their offsets go to plant more trees there, which will eventually be cut by poor villagers who either will be thrown in jail for trying to survive, or will burn the wood, the least efficient, most carbon-generating fuel of all.

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