The big news about former vice president and Nobel Prize and Oscar winner Al Gore is that he and his wife Tipper are separating after forty years of marriage. As surprising as this is, the one part of this "drama" that hasn't been covered is the actual implications in greenhouse gas creation. In other words, the Gores have just doubled their carbon footprint by creating the need for two residences, one for him and one for Tipper. Actually, their footprint has only increased by 65%, due to the fact that their residence in Tennessee is 10,000 square feet and the new one in California is only 6,500 square feet. Of course, if you consider the guest houses, swimming pools, and other luxurious amenities, this is really splitting hairs.
The question has been posed in many media outlets that regardless of how much Mr. Gore testifies about the calamity of global warming, what example is he really setting for the planet? And now that he's a true empty-nester, does he really need such a large expanse? And does Tipper? It's true that they have purchased carbon offsets for their property, but that's like buying oneself out of conscription during the Civil War. Using these offsets to feel better about buying a bigger house misses the mark of true sustainability. Though definitely open for debate, the fact that corporations and energy producers acquire these offsets reflects an economic culture founded on growth.
The Gores should live happy lives--together or separately. Increasing one's contribution to greenhouse gases should not be a consideration in matters of the heart. However, their split may give rise to a study of how the high rate of divorce has contributed to greenhouse gases by creating a need for additional housing.
Jonathan A. Schein is the president/CEO of ScheinMedia and publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com.
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