Al Gore’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to emitting carbon has been well documented. Now new research out of England has shown that “even the most committed environmentalists – identified by green trademarks such as shopping ethically, installing water and energy saving appliances and recycling … aren’t willing to reduce their flying habits significantly, despite their supposedly impeccable green credentials.”
The New York Times‘ John Tierny explains why this matters:
Now, it could be argued that the correlation between green habits at home and taking plane trips is due to both of these tendencies to correlate with greater wealth and education — and that because more affluent people tend to fly more, it’s admirable of them to try to be green in other ways. But there are problems with this attitude.
First, it’s false comfort to assume that recycling and buying green electricity will earn you an indulgence for your international flights. If you look at the Environmental Defense Fund’s calculations of the greenhouse emissions per person for an international round-trip of 4,000 miles each way — about 8 tons of CO2-equivalent gases — you find that it’s about equal to the amount of carbon dioxide produced annually, per person, to power the typical American car and to heat and electrify the typical American home. A few low-energy light bulbs is not going to make an appreciable dent in your travel carbon footprint.
Moreover, Dr. Barr and his colleagues found — in interviews and focus groups conducted along with their survey — that people sometimes justified their trips as a “trade-off” for recycling trash, using energy-efficient light bulbs and other green habits.
So are the green habits at home doing such a good job of mitigating guilt that they’re interfering with more realistic strategies to cut greenhouse emissions? If so, to me that’s one more argument against recycling.