Al Gore and George W. Bush: What is Green?

According to an article in Cicero, a German magazine of political culture Al could learn something from George about making his home green. But what kind of green are we talking about?

Al Gores home in Tennessee is a gas guzzling waster of a home. It’s a 20 room mansion, with 8 bathrooms/toilets and a swimming pool, heated by gas and uses 12 times the amount of electricity of an average Nashville home would use. The multiple is not that surprising as it is at least 5 times the size of most homes in the US, though it is disappointing that despite preaching about green issues, Gore does not seem to want to downsize to a more energy efficient home. To be fair he recently did install a ground heat pump and solar panels, but that was long after a propaganda email had circulated pointing out the disparity between the former vice presidents home and that of the political pariah GWB. Apparently Gore only buys green electricity, which is produced from renewables and costs 4 times as much, so I guess we can say he uses more because he can afford it. Apparently the electricity bill of his home is a whapping 5000 USD a month. This was a big deal around the time when his documentary came out, for which he won an Oscar and received the Nobel Peace Prize. The same day he launched the documentary an offshoot of the AEI published figures on the electricity consumption of the Gore house, which was slated because it is conservative and anti-global warming.

The Bush family, the ones that live in Texas where everything is BIG,  have built a house that is using the latest in green technology. They employed David Heymann an architect whose philosophy is to use materials, shapes and an overall design that fit into the environment where the building is being built, while making it the most energy-efficient technology can make it. The house includes a geothermal heat pump and a 25,000 gallon water cistern that collects rain among other nifty technological innovations to conserve energy and make the house more efficient. Apparently it is also smaller than most houses built on the ranches surrounding it.

There are two things to note about this comparison. The first and more minor point is that I am disapointed in the Bush bashing British media because I had to be told about this by a friend from Slovakia who picked it up while reading a right of centre weekly magazine that is sceptical of global warming called .tyzden (the title means “week” in Slovak). I may have missed the story, but somehow I doubt it. This is despite that the story has been around for a number of years. (The article in the German mag, which was the original source to the tyzden piece appeared in 2008 and comparisons have been around as early as 2006).

The second issue to note is that the two former members of the executive branch of the USA have a different understanding about what global warming and green issues are about. For Gore, who no doubt has a deep appreciation for what should be done to slow or stop global warming the issue doesn’t seem to relate to simplifying our life. You may have seen this pictures of his desk with three huge flat screens for his computer and one large flat screen TV in his office.  Now for all I know, Bush has the same set up, though I doubt it. The Bushes seem to want to have the element of simplification in their life as is seen from Laura Bushes desires for their home on the fairly large ranch they own. I mention the large ranch because I am not comparing relative wealth here but rather the kernel of impetus behind the two ways both families approach the green issue. For Gore this matter has become his life’s mission, giving him something to fight for. Through it he has received personal world fame greater than when he was vice-president. It has meant he won the use of  a 1 million dollar prize and the prestige that comes with a Nobel (admittedly he probably did not need the money) and bully for him.

For the former first family the matter was simply a personal decision to do the right thing within the given circumstance.

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One Response to Al Gore and George W. Bush: What is Green?

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