Hypocrisy Squared

I understand, I really do, that people who advocate for drastic policies to arrest climate change might still drive around in a large car or travel by air. They might even buy an allegedly green car with a carbon footprint a mile wide.

I don’t held it against them.  Anybody who has seen my Twitter or Facebook pages has seen me say “hypocrisy is the most common vice”.  It’s difficult to live up to your ideals. Green options aren’t all around us.

However, it takes a special kind of gall to preach anti-materialism  from Davos after flying there in your private jet. Normal passenger aviation has a large greenhouse impact. Private aviation is ridiculous.

Earlier this week, one of the Davos attendees, billionaire Jeff Greene, railed against American excess … after taking his wife, children, and two nannies along to Switzerland with him in one of those private jets.

“America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,” Greene told Bloomberg. “We need to reinvent our whole system of life.”

Greene, who ran for U.S. Senate in Florida in 2010, has a less-than-stellar track record when it comes to being an advocate for environmental sustainability. According to a 2010 article in the Tampa Bay Times, in March 2005 Greene’s three-story, 145-foot yacht Summerwind—the size of ”a 14-story building turned on its side”—dropped anchor onto one of the planet’s most pristine coral reefs in Belize, inflicting a 50-by-200-foot swath of damage. Greene wasn’t aboard at the time and denies the incident ever took place, despite scientific damage surveys and an open case file maintained by Belize’s Department of the Environment. In 2010, Belize said that if Greene or the Summerwind—whose gas tank costs about $100,000 to fill—ever returned to the country, he would be subject to a $1.87 million fine. (It’s not clear where the situation stands now.)

It seems Greene, like so many other thought leaders, is taking a “you first” strategy on that whole “smaller, better existence” thing.

I think he’s really just trying to get into the right parties, or perhaps earn the modern equivalent of an indulgence.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who flies around on a private jet (and allegedly drags huge fissures in protected reefs), but still advocates governmental and moral restraint on others’ lifestyles, can take their little head to the rear of the aircraft and submerge it in the blue water with the other waste.

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