Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The hypocrisy of the “green” celebrities including Al Gore.
There was Sheryl Crow, who had called upon the public to refrain from using more than one square of toilet paper per visit (“except on those pesky occasions when two or three are required”) and who was leading a Stop Global Warming concert tour across America. It was revealed that while Crow travelled in a biodiesel tour bus, her 30-person entourage followed in a fleet of 13 gas-guzzling vehicles.
John Travolta notoriously encouraged the British public to do its bit to fight global warming — after flying into London on one of his five, yes, five private jets (one of which is a Boeing 707). In 2006 his piloting hobby produced an estimated 800 tons of carbon emissions, more than a hundred times the output of the average Briton, according to the Carbon Trust.
It is less well known that Tom Cruise — who has campaigned for the LA-based environmental group Earth Communications Office — also has an air fleet and a licence to pilot his five planes, including a top-of-the-line customised Gulfstream jet he bought for his wife, Katie Holmes. Harrison Ford, who is vice-chairman on the board of Conservation International, voices public-service messages for an environmental federation called EarthShare, and once shaved his chest hair to illustrate the effects of deforestation, is another hobby pilot. He once owned a Gulfstream but now makes do with a smaller Cessna Citation Sovereign eight-seater jet, four propeller planes and a helicopter.
Oprah Winfrey, who preaches eco-virtue from her TV pulpit, travelled in a 13-seat Gulfstream IV private jet for years — the preferred model for celebrities and the super-rich. (She has replaced it with a faster Bombardier Global Express.) The public first became aware of her private-jet habit when her plane had to make a forced landing in California in 2005; it was reminded of it this year after one of her stewardesses was fired for allegedly having sex with the pilot while Oprah and other passengers were asleep.
Jennifer Aniston told reporters that to save the Earth’s precious water resources she brushes her teeth while in the shower. But she also flew a hairdresser to Europe to accompany her on a recent publicity tour for the film Marley & Me.
Perhaps more egregious, because she is a much more in-your-face global-warming campaigner, is Dame Trudie Styler, film financier and wife of Sting. Not only do she and her husband run seven homes and travel between them in private jets and a fleet of cars, but in 2007 an employment tribunal revealed Styler was furious when her pregnant chef refused to travel 100 miles to prepare some soup and salad. (The chef had regularly made the trip in the past, travelling by train and taxi.) And Sting recently had to contend with accusations that the Police were “the dirtiest band in the world” because of the scale of their last tour and the carbon footprint of the fans who went to see them.
This spring Styler was accused of hiring a private jet to take her and an eight-person entourage from New York to Washington, DC, for the White House correspondents’ dinner, even though there are dozens of scheduled shuttle flights she could have taken, not to mention fast trains. Strangely, Sting flew commercial to the same dinner. When challenged, Styler reportedly defended herself by saying: “Yes, I do take planes. My life is to travel and to speak out about the horrors of an environment that is being abused at the hands of oil companies.”
U2’s latest world tour features three stages and a giant claw that ensures as many spectators as possible get a decent view. Alas, transporting the whole shebang around the world is estimated by carbonfootprint.com to produce the carbon equivalent of the annual emissions of 6,500 British homes — or a rocket trip to Mars and back.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin has been fingered as one of music’s biggest eco-hypocrites. George Monbiot, a writer and environmental campaigner, noted on his blog that Martin flew thousands of miles on his private jet, including brief trips between LA and nearby Palm Springs. Monbiot calculated that Martin’s trips back and forth to see his family produced 250 times the carbon emissions of an average Briton.
Monbiot also cited an interview Martin gave in which he discussed his angry global-warming song, then boasted about his family’s profligate private jet use, saying of his daughter: “As she gets older, hopefully she’ll come and see us when she wants. I always thought it’d be cool to be in school and say, ‘I’m not coming in today — I’m off to Costa Rica to see my dad play.’ I do think that wins you a few points.” Martin replied to criticism by pointing out that he paid for the planting of mango trees to offset the carbon emissions of his tours and flights home.
There are endless other examples of hypocrisy by green politicos. David Cameron was once photographed virtuously riding his bike to the House of Commons, with his official car behind him, carrying his suit and briefcase. Ken Livingstone, who swore he would make London the world’s greenest city when he was mayor, made scores of arguably unnecessary flights to foreign destinations. The supposedly green Barack
Obama had a St Louis chef flown 850 miles just to make pizza at the White House.
At the end of the film An Inconvenient Truth, the unbearably earnest former presidential candidate Al Gore asked his audience: “Are you ready to change the way you live?” His own huge Nashville mansion consumed over 20 times the electricity of an average American home. Indeed, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, it burnt twice as much power in the month of August 2006 than most American homes do in an entire year. Another inconvenient truth revealed that the former senator spent $500 a month just to heat the indoor swimming pool in his lavish domestic establishment. The 100ft houseboat he bought in 2008, on the other hand, was said to be powered by biodiesel.
Gore gave the usual response of the green celebrity caught not practising what they preach. He said he made up for his consumption of electricity and production of carbon dioxide by buying carbon offsets — some from his own offset company. (continues at TIMES of London)