February 28, 2007

The Taste of Stupid In The Morning

I'm flicking channels this morning, catching up on all the hockey trade deadline moves (more on them later), and I get distracted by The View (I know, shut up). One of the ladies there (a younger blonde one) quotes from "a report" out that states the shocking discovery that uber-enviro Al Gore uses 20 times the electricity that is the national United States average.

So I decided this afternoon to take a look: and what do you know? It's true!

That information comes from these folks, who, while claiming to be a "non-partisan group", are funded by the American Enterprise Institute, who are frantically trying to get people to stop thinking of global warming using the same methods that Phillip Morris and other tobacco companies tried to stop people from thinking about the health effects of smoking.

In any case, the story in bullet form:

1) Gore's home used 220,000 kWh, while the average American house used 10,600 or so;

2) His consumption increased by2,000 kWh/month after the movie An Inconvenient Truth was released;

3) Add the natural gas bill, and Gore spent more than $30,000 last year on power to his home;

4) Gore BAD.

5) Repeat point 4 as necessary.

Looking at this, you'd think that "Hmm... This doesn't look good at all, at all. Hypocracy at it's greatest!" And as long as you didn't look too closely, you'd have a point. Sort of.

Here's an open challenge to the folks quoting this revelation: think about it.

No, I'm serious. Give it a try. Really. Okay, I'll help:

Why does Al Gore use 20 times the energy in his house than the average American? Come on, you can do it! Don't be afraid of thought!

Still nothing? Well, at least you tried. Here's the answer, and you're not going to like it much because it's more than one sound bite long. Follow along as best you can.

First is that the man lives in a mansion that has a freaking guest house. Now, how does this make his house different than your house and my house? For starters, my house is 600 square feet, and my "guest house" is an 8'x10' tool shed. This means that it not only doesn't take much power to light it, but it doesn't take much to heat, either. There is no sane reason to compare the amount of power used by my my little home and a property that is 10,000 square feet plus a guest house.

See how that works?

Second is the amount of use the house(s) get. There are two office spaces in the home, meaning that both Al and Tippy *shudder* work from home. Why don't you ask your employer how much energy they use while you're working? Consider it a school project.

Third is the laughable "revelation" that the amount of energy used went up after the release of An Inconvenient Truth. Shall we simply file this under "No Shit" and leave it at that? No?


Okay, here's what happens in the real world: when someone is involved in movies or in politics, one result is an awful lot of meetings and parties and interviews. Now, since Mr. Gore has positioned himself as a primary spokesman for enviromental causes, that is going to involve a lot of politics; and since he has also created a documentary that achieved widespread release, creating a lot of "buzz" (or attention) from both media outlets and government sources, that's going to involve a lot of meetings. Notice anything there?

Another hint: meetings, parties & interviews + meetings, parties & interviews = ?

The fourth point (and I know all this is interconnected but I'm breaking it down for you) is that I use a computer, and I'm guessing you do, too. How you manage it, I'm not sure, but congratulations on that. This means that neither you nor I are Luddites, that we neither fear nor hate technology. That's a good thing: technology provides tools for us to use. Thing is, Al Gore is no Luddite, either; which means he uses technology, which uses energy. Do you have a television? I do. That uses energy, too. So does my microwave, my printer, the lights... Which frankly, I need. What do you think Mr. Gore needs for his lifestyle?

Point five: Now, I don't personally like the idea of having a 10,000 square foot home, and wouldn't be comfortable in one; and I'm not a big fan of lawns. That's not how I live, because I don't need anything like it. But I still use energy. I can't afford solar panels just yet, but they are being saved for, and our dream house (1200 square feet!) also has plans for a micro-hydro generator. But until that time, I'm drawing from BC Hydro, which takes advantage of (as you could guess from the name) the rivers and mountains here in the province to supply hydroelectric power to most of the population.

Tennessee, on the other hand, doesn't have that option. The power plants there mostly draw on coal burning plants. Which would look even worse for someone using that much power, if it weren't for the fact that he paid over $400 per month as a premium to use specifically green power, coming from wind and solar generators and available as an option from the Nashville Electric Service.

That's right: he's spending $430 each month above his standard electrical costs for the privilege of using renewable resources. Add that to the $1,000/month in natural gas use, and you have a rather annoyed oil company spokesman. And a much more reasonable-sounding (for that size of house) $1,000 a month in electricity costs.

*crunch crunch*

What do you know? Stupid tastes like candy!


posted by Thursday at 6:30 pm


Anonymous Ruth Sponsler said...

Please see this pie chart for electricity production. Solar and wind ("other renewables" in chart) are itty bitty sources.

If you want *major* sources of greenhouse gas-free-energy, you need hydroelectric or nuclear.

10:31 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

Ruth Sponsler -

Bear in mind that the chart you indicate only measures production, not capabilities or efficiency. You wouldn't compare a unicycle with a DC-3, would you?

They may be "itty bitty sources" for now, but that will change with increased sources. Though I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of wind farms.

And there is that teensy little problem of dealing with leftovers from the nuclear plant. Yes, the actual spent fuel amount is quite small, but there's the matter of everything else (hazmat suits, tools) that must be either decontaminated at great expense or disposed of safely, massively increasing the amount of hazardous waste produced.

I've always liked geothermal (such as what got built into George W. Bush's ranch), and I also like the idea of trying to harness tidal energy. Talk about a reliable supply!

Thanks for the comment.

1:19 am  
Blogger DazzlinDino said...

You wouldn't compare a unicycle with a DC-3, would you?

That's one BIG unicycle.....

I'm with you on the living conditions, something that big just wouldn't feel right. That being said, I also however do not approve of the kwh usage he goes through, it's rediculous. It's the price of excess. I'm sure it differs little from any other BFH (big effin house), but it's still dumb....

2:21 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

DD -

For my money, it comes down to "What's being used?" Again, the place is a hub of activity, plus there are two workplaces in the house. Greater activity takes more energy.

I'd be nice to think that he's using that energy well, but I got no frikkin' clue. For all I know, he has a 24-hour disco room no one else is allowed to enter without earplugs.

Maybe a "Penny Farthing" instead of a unicycle?

Thanks for the comment.

4:14 pm  

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