We Are All Hypocrites

For obvious reasons, many evident in the discussion in this chapter, Aspen is wide open to calls of hypocrisy, something American diplomats hear all the time when discussion turns to climate treaties like Kyoto. In Aspen, what we hear is: "You haven't even started to try to solve your second-home problem, but you announced the Canary Initiative to great fanfare." And globally it's: "You can't ask us to do anything until you Americans deal with your own massive consumption."

In Aspen, local papers are full of accusations of environmental hypocrisy. Here's a sample, posted by alpha6 on aspenpost.net, a local blog:

Every time this topic comes up I point out the hypocrisy of

Aspen, only to be attacked for pointing out the obvious.

Aspen suffers the same Liberal Limousine syndrome as the rest of the liberals in that the idea is good and as long as someone else sacrifices for the cause. But God forbid that they give up their private jets, their second homes heated to a constant temperature of 72 degrees all year long, their heated driveways, hot tubs, pools, etc., etc., etc. Just look at their "Champion" of this whole Global Warming Crusade, Al Gore, zipping around in a private jet, putting out more emissions in one trip than I would in a whole year, to "get the word out."

Save your hype and sky-is-falling banter for your idiot liberal friends who you are hoping will make changes so they [sir] don't have to. Yeah, the world may be warming up, but don't expect the liberals to be the ones to save it, they appear to be to [sic] busy accelerating the process to really give a damn. (I mean, you can't expect Nancy Polosi [sic] to not want a bigger jet, I mean, how in the world can she go from place to place without her fan club?) Hypocrites? You betcha!!14

It is criminally easy to accuse people of hypocrisy. But the accusation almost always misses the point, because by virtue of living in a carbon-based economy, none of us can say anything about emissions reduction without being hypocrites ourselves. Existing in the modern world creates carbon emissions. It's just a question of how bad a hypocrite you are. Attacking Al Gore for the size of his house, for example, is merely a Rovian tactic: Suddenly the conversation goes from the global climate crisis—a dire issue threatening all of humanity—to Al Gore's house, which is perhaps of some significance but exponentially less so.

Ironically, in the corporate world it's possible that flagrant hypocrisy, like that exhibited in Aspen and America, is actually good for the environment, because it drives change, no matter how uncomfortably. I address this idea in detail in Chapter 9.

To lessen the charges of hypocrisy that could be brought against any of us, it seems obvious that the best thing to do would be to implement even more sustainable practices— the real ones, things that really matter and drive real change. To do that you need to be clear-eyed about how you can make a real difference: you need to find your biggest lever and use it.

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FIVE

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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