Monday, April 23, 2007

Buying Sustainability

If there’s a problem, throw a little money at it.

At least that seems to be the common thread among some of the biggest celebrities and business moguls in America.

Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard “Money Bags” Branson recently dug deep into his pocket to offer $25-million to the first person who can create a workable plan for reversing the effects of climate change.

Who ever said that throwing a little capitalistic spirit into saving the world was a bad thing?

Internet tycoons like Bill Gates, Steve Case and John Doer are also giving millions to finance “green technology,” “sustainable lifestyles” and “ethanol bio-refineries.”

But, wouldn’t it be easier to just pay people to conserve energy and drive less?

And isn’t there always a tinge of irony when millionaires donate to environmental causes?

Bill Gate’s mansion in Medina, Washington alone takes up 48,000 square feet. That’s more than 30 times the size of an average American home, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Adding over-consumptive insult to injury, his garage houses an estimated 30 cars.

That’s a lot of wasted materials, fuel and energy for one family.

Then there’s the politician/celebrity/environmentalist Al Gore whose Nashville mansion “consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year.”

So what kind of message are ‘environaires’ sending?

If you’re rich enough, you don’t have to change your lifestyle to save the world from pollution and climate change. You just have to spend some money and demand that others save the world for you.

Sure it’s nice to see these guys giving some cash and props to environmental causes instead of oil companies. But it would be even nicer if their generosity wasn’t seasoned with a fist-full of hypocrisy.

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