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    Al Gore's $8.875 Million House of Carbon

    04/30/2010

    Two days ago the LA Times reported that Al Gore has picked up a pricey new Italian-style villa with "ocean view, fountains, six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms" all for a mere $8,875,000. 

    It always seems a little surprising that this self-styled eco-warrior isn't living in a tree with the rest of his disciples, but it shouldn't be all that shocking because he can definitely spare the change he shelled out for the Montecito-area cottage.

    Of course the most famous public figure with deep financial ties to the climate change money machine is Al Gore. During the last ten years, he has increased his personal fortune a hundredfold, from "between $1 million and $2 milion" (from his 2000 Presidential candidacy disclosures) to over $100 million in 2007. Gore and former Goldman Sachs executive David Blood founded Generation Investment Management (GIM), a venture capital firm that invests in "green" businesses. GIM is a member of the Chicago Carbon Exchange (CCX) which is the commodity trading market created to facilitate the sale of carbon credits.

    Money machine? The blog quoted above points to a good introduction:

    If you accept that CO2 is the problem, then steps need to be taken to reduce CO2 emissions, which many developed countries have attempted using “cap and trade” schemes. In cap and trade, you use the law to require companies in developed countries to reduce their CO2 emissions, or to buy carbon offsets if they can’t.

    Where do carbon offsets come from? Simply enough, some authority must certify that someone else has either reduced their CO2 output, or has agreed not to do something that would increase CO2 output they would otherwise have done. For every ton of CO2 you don’t emit, you get a certificate that you can sell on the carbon market to someone who needs permission — an indulgence — allowing them to emit a ton of CO2.

    But what about the details? Who has the authority to certify? And how do you measure CO2 not emitted? The opportunities for graft are vast. There isn’t much that is easier than not building a facility that therefore doesn’t emit CO2. Convince an inspector that you really would have built that facility, or simply that you built a modern efficient plant where you might otherwise have built a dirty inefficient one, and you’re entitled to a credit.

    Once you have the carbon credit you need to sell it, which means there must be a market — a role filled in part by the Chicago Carbon Exchange (CCX).

    Glenn Beck does an excellent job of trying to unpack the growing carbon credit market/jungle below:

     

    It's difficult to dismiss this as a lot of tinfoil hat ranting - people have been picking up on this in bits and pieces over a long time period now, even Rolling Stone did a piece on this last July!  The Washington Examiner also has more information on the Fannie Mae cap and trade connection here.

    Thanks to the elaborate "cash web" Gore and his cohorts have put together, he can not only afford his new digs, he can afford the carbon offsets from such an elaborate, energy sucking abode.  Unless, of course, he can just give them to himself?  Perhaps for an early birthday present.

    On the other hand, even if he did buy the offsets to counter the earth abuse the Montecito pad is committing, it probably wouldn't do much good.  The Christian Science Monitor has an indepth investigative report on the extreme no good at all and, in fact, extreme fraud some carbon offset outfits are accomplishing. 

    An investigation by The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.

    They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms.

    Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.

    And often, those who get the “green credits” thinking their own carbon emissions have been offset, are fooled.

    As we've pointed out in the newly revamped Cap and Trade online war room, government wants us to have a lot of economic pain for what is clearly no ecological pay off. The entire system is barely afloat under the weight of fraud, back room deals, and the type of cronyism that would make Boss Tweed proud.  And for some reason we're supposed to believe that the government is some how more pure and will pull this off better? 

    That's a big pill to swallow. 

    It's good that the cap and trade gambit is being exposed, but the dots are purposefully hard to connect and the kind of serious attention that is required to bring this kind of information to the forefront of the public conscience is seriously lacking.  That's why it is easy for Kerrry, Graham, and Lieberman to get away with saying their new bill isn't cap and trade, but caps and all this other junk that people accept without questioning.  It's all very complex and shady - it would take serious unpacking to discern what is really going on and who is getting rich off the taxpayers - because someone always is. 

    For all those reasons and more, it's essential that we take action now before the bill that was dead, then wasn't, comes back for more.

    It's also essential that citizens stand up for themselves, do some serious investigating, and demand answers.  That's what the Tennesse Center for Policy Research did when they exposed that Al Gore's electricity bill was 20X the national average in 2007.  But don't worry, he can afford it.