Charles Krauthammer begins his latest column for Time (and very smart of Time to call the good doctor–much smarter than this) with this classic moment of unintentional irony from the Gray Lady. Of course these days, the Gray Lady wouldn’t know irony if it kissed her full on the lips:
Goldman Sachs has been one of the most aggressive firms on Wall Street about taking action on climate change; the company sends its bankers home at night in hybrid limousines.–The New York Times, Feb. 25
Written without a hint of irony–if only your neighborhood dry cleaner sent his employees home by hybrid limousine–this front-page dispatch captured perfectly the eco-pretensions of the rich and the stupefying gullibility with which they are received.
Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore global-warming pitch at the Academy Awards? Before they spoke, the screen at the back of the stage flashed not-so-subliminal messages about how to save the planet. My personal favorite was “Ride mass transit.” This to a conclave of Hollywood plutocrats who have not seen the inside of a subway since the moon landing and for whom mass transit means a stretch limo seating no fewer than 10.
Leo and Al then portentously announced that for the first time ever, the Academy Awards ceremony had gone green. What did that mean? Solar panels in the designer gowns? It turns out that the Academy neutralized the evening’s “carbon footprint” by buying carbon credits. That means it sent money to a “carbon broker,” who promised, after taking his cut, to reduce carbon emissions somewhere on the planet equivalent to what the stars spewed into the atmosphere while flying in on their private planes.
In other words, the rich reduce their carbon output by not one ounce. But drawing on the hundreds of millions of net worth in the Kodak Theatre, they pull out lunch money to buy ecological indulgences. The last time the selling of pardons was prevalent–in a predecessor religion to environmentalism called Christianity–Martin Luther lost his temper and launched the Reformation.
A very few of the very rich have some awareness of the emptiness–if not the medieval corruption–of ransoming one’s sins. Sergey Brin, zillionaire founder of Google, buys carbon credits to offset the ghastly amount of carbon dioxide emitted by Google’s private Boeing 767 but confesses he’s not sure if it really does anything.
But that’s what faith is all about: you gotta believe!