Carbon Offsets and Green Power - Are Gore's Ways Good Enough?

It seems the green community is somewhat split on whether to support Al Gore or denounce him in the face of a report saying his Nashville home consumes more energy in a month than most do in an entire year. In fact, it says his yearly power consumption is 20 times the national average. As far as I'm concerned there are more than just two sides to this story and it's a lesson in just how hard it can be to promote green values for others while keeping your own in check. Aside from the fact many have called this an outright smear campaign; it does bring up a few points.

In a response via ThinkProgress, Gore's office didn't dispute the facts of the report, but said the Gore family has signed up for 100 percent green power, installed solar panels and other energy saving technologies, as well as purchasing carbon offsets.

So it looks like the report didn't have all the facts…it's not like he's just carelessly using power from any source or even misleading the public. Like Gore suggests for everyone else - he assessed his use, tried to reduce it, found cleaner sources of energy and offset the rest.

Are carbon offsets worth it?

Still, with numbers like that it is a little disappointing. I'm also of the opinion that carbon offsetting can be a cop-out. Why change your behavior when you can just pay to be absolved of your polluting ways? On the other hand, when used after taking other steps, as Gore seems to have done, carbon offsets are a way to support environmentally beneficial practices.

I could go on all day about the difficulties faced in moving towards a green lifestyle. One choice can solve a certain problem while bringing up an entirely new one. But it won't make a difference to some people; they look to any sign of non-compliance as an excuse to throw it all out the window. For the rest of us, we know that making changes take time and effort and not everyone will do it perfectly from the beginning, we just try.
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