Hypocrisy -- where would politicians be without it? steve ... Here s a tale of two houses. Read the description of each, and then try to guess who its owner
Message 1 of 1
, Mar 25, 2007
Hypocrisy -- where would politicians be without it?
Here's a tale of two houses. Read the description of each, and then try
to guess who its owner must be. Hint: One of the homes was built by one
of most hated men alive today. The other belongs to a respected leader
in the environmental movement.
Our first home is a great example of conspicuous consumption
and wasted resources. It's a mansion in an upper-class suburb, with
just under two dozen rooms and 8 bathrooms. Combined with its guest
house, the home consumed 16,000 kWh per month in 2005. Then An
Inconvenient Truth came out.. so how did this homeowner respond? In
2006 the energy usage rose above
18,000 kWh per month. This is over 20x the national average!
This home consumes more energy in 30 days than most US
households do in a year and a half! In total, the owners paid nearly
$30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for this estate
The owners of the home claim they offset their usage by
purchasing carbon credits. The overly wealthy can pay a small (for
them) fine, and then be allowed to break rules (such as saving energy)
the common folk are supposed to obey. It may work, but it sets a bad
example, and in the end holds poor people to a
different, unfair standard. And it does little to stop
pollution, because the person paying the carbon credits is only paying
an extra fee -- they're not changing their habits.
By most accounts, this home is an example of how people in
climate-aware era SHOULD NOT be living.
Our second home is the polar opposite. Situated on a 1600
acre plot of hot, dry prairie land, it's a modest home of 4,000 square
feet. Below the home is a network of pipes descending 300 feet into the
earth, where the dirt and rock keep a constant temperature of 67
degrees. Pumping this water back up into the home helps to cool it
during the summer, and to heat it during the winter. It's a closed
network, so the water is simply recycled.
"Passively solar," the home is positioned to allow for
maximum absorption of the sun's heat in winter. Thanks to the
geothermal system, the home operates on a mere 25% of the electricity
it might otherwise require. The geothermal system even heats the home's
outdoor pool--so efficiently, in fact, that original plans for
additional solar paneling were canceled.
Various gardens and grounds on the property are irrigated by
a graywater system that channels shower, sink, toilet water and
rainwater into enormous underground purifying tanks. And as icing on
the cake, the walls of the home were built from cheap Luders limestone
scrap material, quarried locally, that other homebuilders had thrown
And while conservation was kept in mind, these were also
practical and financially-advantageous choices, for a hot and
relatively-isolated region where water is scarce. Construction of the
home started in 1999 and completed in 2001. It was financed privately
-- no taxpayer dollars were spent in its construction.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more illustrative model for
market-driven sustainability. The home is a green utopia, and is so
thoroughly off the grid that the green celebrity blog Ecorazzi and the
renewable energy web site Off-Grid both recently devoted in-depth
profiles to it.
The first property is a mansion in an upscale neighborhood.
It consumes over twenty times the amount of energy as the average US
household. Clearly, this is someone who does not wish to reduce
consumption, or to save energy. It must be owned by an oil executive,
or an energy-company tycoon. Or a media mogul. Perhaps the CEO of
Halliburton - they're all supposed to be evil,
The second property, on the other hand, is an example of
green building and sustainability. It definitely must be owned by a
great environmental leader. A rich scientist, perhaps. Or the chairman
of the National Resources Defense Council. Or of the EPA. Greenpeace,
Who'd you pick? You'd be surprised.
The first mansion, guzzling electricity and paying
"indulgences" for it, is in the posh Belle Meade area of
Tennessee. It belongs to Mr. Al Gore.
The second home, an example of green building and reduced
energy consumption, is the western White House in Crawford, Texas. It
belongs to President George W Bush.
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