Having spent a significant amount of time in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I have lost almost all of my appreciation for Earth Day. Sure, I believe that we as humans have a responsibility to ensure that our planet remains clean, and to use our resources with care and consideration for future generations. But there’s a big difference between environmental stewardship and whatever Earth Day is about – even if you don’t consider that the co-founder of Earth Day stayed as true as possible to his commitment by composting even his ex-girlfriend. In Ann Arbor, they would celebrate it by hosting a drum circle. And I would celebrate the drum circle, by driving around it in a sport utility vehicle, spraying aeorsol hairspray out the windows.
Case on point: today, as we all #ActOnClimate for the good of the world by sorting our garbage, recycling our aluminum and diligently supporting the introduction of bike lanes to our neighborhoods, so that hipster cyclists can run red lights just like the drivers do, the President, who is supposed to be leading our nation in the fight against Global Warming will be boarding a his giant, gas-guzzling private plane so that he can give a speech on protecting the environment in Florida, only to board his giant-gas-guzzling private plane back to DC nary an hour later.
It was called a “provocative question,” and got a few chuckles from reporters, but the bottom line is that President Barack Obama is not conflicted about taking the gas-guzzling Air Force One to Florida on Earth Day to talk about the dangers of climate change.
CBS News reporter Mark Knoller asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest whether the president risks “undermining his message when he flies to the Everglades on a 747, hundreds of miles, to make a statement about climate change?”
After laughter, one reporter remarked, “He could drive.” Another said, “He could take a van.”
By Knoller’s own estimate, the nearly 2,000 mile round trip will consume a whopping 9,180 gallons of pure, unadulterated fossil fuel, leaving a carbon footprint of approximately .37 metric tons of CO2. The average American has a carbon footprint of only 20 metric tons of CO2 per year. So a few of you are going to have to stop breathing for a while – just a month or so – in order to offset your President’s copious consumption. And, for that matter, children’s television scientist Bill Nye’s, who, despite being our recognized authority on science in this country (despite actually having an engineering degree), failed to see the irony in his own Tweet on the subject of a carbon-spewing jaunt down to Florida just to “act on climate change.” He and the President were acting alright.
John Earnest sloughed off the question as irrelevant, saying that, although the President is deeply committed to protecting the environment, he has to rely on the Department of Defense to arrange his transportation. Knoller, for his part, did not follow up with the obvious question, whether Obama could save all that carbon by simply making the exact same speech somewhere in DC that faces environmental difficulties. Perhaps, the rose garden. Or Joe Biden’s office.