Friday, March 2, 2007

Gore's Other Inconvenient Truth

He payed attention. He served under the Clinton's and he payed attention. He realized that he too could make some real money after leaving office. He had already written a book, Earth in the Balance, and after his stint as a professor, beard and all, he tried his oratorial skills. Remember his rant regarding George Bush's supposed pre- 9/11 Iraq invasion plans? "He betrayed this country! He played on our fears!" Then he tried the movie business with An Inconvenient Truth which may turn out to be very inconvenient to us. He's yet to find out whether or not he'll be bringing home the Nobel Peace Prize so he's decided to become a snake-oil salesman (the Nobel Peace Prize for what? for not duking it out with GWB for the presidency?).

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Our former VP is selling the environmental equivalent of snake-oil. If we are to believe his dire warnings, we are on the brink of destroying the planet and life as we know it. The global temperature is warming, ice caps are melting, the sea level is rising, polar bears are drowning, and we all know that it is due to human activities. Well, not the activies of all humans, just those of us in western, developed countries with high employment and high productivity and a high standard of living. Let's face it. In some countries, people just don't live long enough to do much damage to the world. But we Americans, living in our nice homes, keeping warm in winter and cool in summer, eating red meat, washing with fresh, safe water daily, and flushing our toilets instead of dumping the slops out the window, have the nerve to live well into our 70's and 80's while driving our gas-guzzling SUV's thousands of miles a year. We are responsible for all the ills facing the planet. Period. No one dares to dispute this man's scientific conclusions. See this prior post.

So, what are we to do? According to Mr. Gore and others, we should do all that we can to conserve natural resources; cut back on our energy consumption; look for alternative more earth-friendly sources of energy; and once we've calculated our reduced "carbon footprint" we then should pay our penance with "carbon offsets". According to Wikipedia, the not always reliable information source, but the handiest for me at present, a "carbon offset" is:

"A service that tries to reduce the net carbon emissions of individuals or organizations indirectly, through proxies who reduce their emissions and/or increase their absorption of greenhouse gases.[1] A wide variety of offset actions are available; tree planting is the most common. Renewable energy and energy conservation offsets are also popular, including emissions trading credits.

The intended goal of carbon offsets is to combat global warming.[2] The appeal of becoming "carbon neutral" has contributed to the growth of voluntary offsets, which often are a more cost-effective alternative to reducing one's own fossil-fuel consumption. However, carbon offsets are not without controversy, with some environmentalists and economists questioning the overall benefits of the practice."

Did you get that last sentence - "with some environmentalists and economists questioning the overall benefits of the practice"? So, without clear proof that it would make much difference, we are urged to purchase these offsets, which would at least make us feel as if we were doing something to help stave off the coming crisis. For some democrats, that warm and fuzzy "feeling" is enough.

Where do you buy carbon offsets? I live in a greater metropolitan area of at least a half million people. I haven't seen the Offsets-R-US anywhere. Is it something you order online? Maybe Amazon sells them; they sell everything else these days. Let's see what Al Gore does.

For your review: Al and The Tipster have, oh, I don't know, maybe two homes. I know about the one in an exclusive fashionable Nashville suburb. You've probably seen the recent articles here and there about the size of it, a 20 room McMansion that uses 20 times the energy of a typical American home. This is according to reliable sources, in this case, the Nashville daily newspaper, The Tennessean, which obtained records from the Nashville Electric Service. There is a correspondingly large usage of natural gas, as would be expected.

When questioned about this seeming inconsistency with Al Gore's teachings about the necessity for energy conservation, Gore's spokesperson (WARNING!! from now on I'm using the word "spokesman") assured us that the Gores have switched to fluorescent bulbs, and are having solar panels installed, and have participated in a "Green Power Switch" program. I'll give him credit for putting some of his money where his mouth is . (The Tennessee Valley Authority has information here about this potential energy-saving program). In addition to that, they drive a Lexus Hybrid SUV for gasoline savings, probably somewhat offset by his trips around the world promoting himself, I mean, his movie. Sometimes, he even flies commercial airlines instead of private jets. But, just to make up for any extra carbon footprints that he and his family may be leaving around the planet, he buys carbon offsets. Lucky for him that he can afford them.

Gore's spokesman says that "Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the famiily's carbon footprint - a concept the right-wing fails to understand." He's right in a way, but I do understand the concept, I just don't understand how purchasing the offsets "offsets", compensates or atones for one's prior energy usage. The way I see it, Gore wants to continue with his conspicuous energy consumption and just buy his way out of his guilty conscience. He still is using enough energy to drive up the price for the rest of us so that we can't buy "offsets" even if we know where to find them.

So where in the world does Gore go to salve his conscience? It turns out that he buys his offsets through a company called Generation Investment Management. (GIM) Coincidentally, he is one of the founders and serves as chairman. This information is readily available at the company's website, above. GIM invests some of its money in sources of alternative energy and other projects that aim to lower energy use worldwide.

In other words, GIM is an international investment firm, not an alternative energy producer, supplier, or even a tree-planting company as one might assume. So, Gore invests in his own company, urges others to do the same, and probably will benefit financially as the practice becomes more widespread among his fellow guilt-ridden liberals.

By the way, you can check the financial holdings (as of DEc. 31, 2006)of GIM at this SEC site. I spent an hour or so looking up each company listed in the report. Some of the holdings are what you might expect:

Johnson Controls - Batteries for hybrid vehicles
Metabolix, Inc.- "Greener" plastics and chemicals
Waters Corp. - Safer water, food, healthcare products
Whole Foods - Natural, organic food retailer

Others are interesting:

Laboratory Corp. - genomic testing, diagnostic technology
Aquantive - Digital marketing
Techne Corp. - Medical research
VCA Antech - Pet healthcare systems
Sysco - Food Service
Staples - Office supply superstores
General Electric - Variety of industries
Becton Dickinson - Medical technology
Autodesk - 2D and 3D design software
Aflac - Insurance

And still others are very interesting:

Greenhill and Co.- Investment banking
Blackbaud - Fundraising software and management
Northern Trust - Financial, investment services
Nuveen - Investment management
UBS - Global financial services

Of the nineteen companies listed in the SEC report, four seem to be directly involved in some sort of energy saving/resource providing activities. Ten are in a variety of industries, and five are in the financial/investment business. GIM's stated goal is to "buy high quality businesses and management teams whose securities are attractively priced to deliver excess returns over the long-term."

Especially if the four "green" companies are successful, Gore and the other GIM investors stand to make a lot of money. That is all well and good, but he should be chastised for pretending to be "greener" than he really is. After all, he is taking money from one pocket and putting it in another, and that's just another example of the limousine liberals recurring con-games.

In fact, Gore is the one who is truly playing on our fears.


directorblue said...

Thanks for the pointer to the SEC filing. I linked to and built on your work a bit using Excel.

Only about 15% of GIM's investments are "green" - unless Gore thinks the AFLAC duck is an endangered species.


Well done.

Gary M. said...

Funny, Staples is or was a Mitt Romney company.