Friday, April 20, 2007


Vanity Fair's Green Excressence..

This is Environmentalism?!

Preparing for my flight yesterday, I decided to pick up a copy of Vanity Fair's 2nd Annual Green Issue. I confess that the main attraction was a picture of Knute the polar bear (photo-shopped onto the cover and gazing hopefully at his environmental savior Leonardo DiCaprio). I admit I do, from time to time, enjoy indulging in the self-absorbed excesses of Graydon Carter's megalomania...if only to look for faint echoes Spy Magazine irrelevance. But the depth of self-absorption, corporate bashing and loppsided hysteria found in this Green Issue left me enranged enough to finish off torching the amazon by myself.

Keep in my that I'm no SUV driving, electricity burning, chemical spewing denailist. I take mass transit to work daily. I installed a programable variable thermostat, and have begun replacing my incandesant bulbs with more efficient compact flourscent ones (while closely watching developments in the LED areana). I'm contemplating upgrading my furnace to gain a few more percentage points of efficiency and I'm now buying free-range, humane raised meats and looking at participating in buying a share of a local farmers co-op for fresh summer vegetables. You'd think I'd have less of a tin ear for the claptrap filling the pages of VF.

Let's start with an article titled A Convenient Truth. It's a "scathing" profile of climate change denialist and corporate man-whore Myron Ebell. Best as I can tell, Myron is a professional skeptic who works for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The think tank that brought us those laughable commercials on CO2 (They call it pollution, We call it Life!). The article informs me that Mr. Ebell's employer CEI has taken money from Exxon-Mobile. A fact the author reminds me of that more than 22 times. Granted, Mr Ebell sounds like a total tool. But is his interest any less bought and sold than the environmental groups that offer me the chance to buy my carbon offset indulgences to fund their hysteria machines?

And this group of some thousand experts at the UN? I'd like some more information there please? After all this is the same UN the puts Iran, Lybia, Sudan and other countries into leadership positions on UN Human Rights councils. The experts pronouncements ushering in a new age of neo-malthusian panic akin the righteous certainty Erlich's The Population Bomb or the fears of a coming Ice Age just some 30 years ago.

What is it about the obnoxious questions put forward by Ebell and CEI that so ruffle the feathers of the Climate Change Elite that, despite there "near certainty" of the data and the "wide spread" concensus among 1,000s of unamed experts that requires his containment?

Could it be that underlying Ebell's fingers to the eye is a subtext of doubt?

An attempt at humbling the malthusian tendencies and perhaps suggesting that, while we should take some actions, it's not yet time for the hair shirts and self flagellation?

Who knows. But the author's understanding of Ebell's sins is only matched by the fervor of the minister in A Scarlett Letter. And I'm sure that he offsets his Volvo V8 driving, the house in Mantuak and those dinners at Nobu by funding green interships for RFK Jr. And other Kennedy prodgeny.

Needing something a little lighter to read, I decided to skip the article on Leonardo Di Caorio's upcoming environmental documentary. Although the article is peppered with photos of Leo draped over varios hunks of ice (in Iceland!) courtesy of Annie Leibotwitz. (I'm sure that they've both "offset" the carbon emmissions from that trip) Again, celebrities who own multiple mansions, dozens of gas guzzilng luxury cars and have carbon footprints the size of Texas really don't have anything to teach me on planetary stewardship or moderation.

Unfortunately, that left me to thumb through the beautifully shot, but entirely too serious photo spread of "Global Citizens". I learn that Julia Louis Dreyfuss drives a hybrid car and is committed to turn her beach house in Santa Barbara into a show case of green technology. Good for her! (wouldn't it be nice to hear about celebrities who downsized their beach mansions and lived simply by...I don't know...having one house?!) There pages and pages of serious looking, important IMPORTANT! People who have a host of ideas on how best I should live. I'm sure a few of them may actually even take their own advice.

Of course the coup de grace is the article on Prince Charles and his efforts to help educate the masses on how to live in harmony with the environment. You know the advice on simple living that one achieves through the ownwership of several castles. By the way what is the carbon footprint of Buckingham Palace? Highgrove? And Windsor Castle?

Then there is this paragraph from an article titled An Ecosoystem of One's Own:

More than half of this (electric) grid is powered by coal-fired plants, which account for 40 percent of our national output of greenhouse gases. With their emmissions regulations gutted by the current administration, power plants belch carbon dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide, an active ingredient of both acid rain ans smog. Some of this pollution is drifting all the way up to the Arctic and poisoning fish, ringed seals, polar bears, and pregnant Inuit Women.

What's lost among the carcasses of sooty polar bears and inuit women is the fact emissions from coal fall each year even as the electricy geberated by coal continues to grow. By some accounts emissions have fallen by close to 36 percent. And of course not a mention of how the air we breath today is cleaner than anytime since the 1600s. And the rules the Bush administration "gutted"? They were never inforce.

There's a lot we can and should be doing about C02. But it somehow seems both obscene and ironic that I can read of this coming appoloypse while enjoying titilating photos of celebrities with baby polar bears and puruse ads to $50,000 watches, $100,000 cars and the lost photos of the VF Oscar party.

Seriously, can't we have a rational discussion on climate change and mitigation without having to deal with delusional celebrities or oil company man whores? When we do, give me a call. Until then I'll be making small sustainable changes for more efficient living. If I read any more of this compost, I may just go out and buy a Hummer SUV.

My first sacrifice will be to drop my copy of the VF Green issue in the nearest recycling bin rather than the nearest toilet where it belongs.

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