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Lifestyles of the Lear Jet Liberals

By Debra Saunders

Limousine liberals, move over. You've been out-glammed by Lear Jet liberals who burn beaucoup fossil fuels in the sky as they soar across the globe fighting global warming.

Last week, they flew to their Mecca, the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. For the left-leaning and loaded, this is the meet that has it all -- the mega-rich paying to be seen caring about poor people and the environment, while posing for photos with former President Clinton.

You see, they care so much more about the environment than President Bush because they support the Kyoto global warming pact, which they believe would save the planet from greenhouse gases, if only Bush had not rejected it. (Never mind that Clinton never asked the Senate to ratify the pact, probably because senators voted 95 to 0 for a resolution rejecting any treaty that exempted China and India.)

And forget that Kyoto has the depth of a cowboy movie set. The storefronts look like a general store and saloon, but when actors walk through the door, there's nothing there. The overwhelming majority of industrialized nations that signed onto Kyoto amidst much fanfare haven't cut their greenhouse gases. In June, the United Nations reported that only two Western European signatories -- Britain and Sweden -- are on target to meet their greenhouse-gas reduction targets, which call for a worldwide reduction of 5 percent below 1990 levels in 2012.

Spain is spewing more than 40 percent above its 1990 levels. Canada is 30 percent over. By comparison, Dubya's America looks good -- emitting 16 percent more greenhouse gases than in 1990.

No wonder Lear Jet liberals love Kyoto: It allows them to look like they really, really care about the environment -- and have their contrails, too.

The big news of the CGI was an announcement by Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, that he would donate $3 billion over 10 years -- his personal profits from his airline and train businesses -- to global warming research. That's more money than I'll ever see, or spend on R&D, so bully for Branson. Still, it should be noted that Branson said some of the money will go back to his own corporations' research. That's not quite charity.

Besides, Branson hails from a country where some enviros believe flying is worse than a mega-SUV. The bishop of London recently referred to flying abroad on holiday as "a symptom of sin."

Europeans are acutely aware of the effect flying has on one's carbon footprint. Flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the United Kingdom. As the Guardian reported, greenhouse gas emissions from flying more than doubled from 1990 to 2004, to 5.5 percent of the United Kingdom's emissions. It would not surprise me if someday Great Britain legislates a limit on short flights -- say, London to Edinburgh or Paris, trips you can make in a car or train about as fast as flying. That would be bad news for Virgin Express.

In California, Branson has a soul mate in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Critics hit the governator for signing global-warming bills while owning four Hummers, but his biggest green sin is dibs on a private plane.

Flying is my biggest item in my carbon footprint calculation, and I don't own a jet. Flying is probably the biggest personal polluter for people who take more than 10 roundtrips a year. So all those Hollywood stars who preen about their Priuses can see themselves as eco-virtuous only by ignoring their plane travel.

They are in a pickle. How can they be beautiful people if they don't jet to an island for a week or two of eco-tourism?

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