Five-Star Green Hypocrisy

Move over Al Gore. Swankier carbon charlatanism has come to town in
the form of the World Wildlife Fund’s luxury getaway called "Around the
World: A Private Jet Expedition."

"Join us on a remarkable 25-day journey by luxury private jet," invites the WWF
in a brochure for its voyage to "some of the most astonishing places on
the planet to see top wildlife, including gorillas, orangutans, rhinos,
lemurs and toucans."

For a price tag that starts at $64,950 per person, travelers will
meet at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Fla. on April 6, 2009 and then fly
to “remote corners” of the world on a “specially outfitted jet that
carries just 88 passengers in business-class comfort.” “World class
experts — including WWF’s director of species conservation — will
provide lectures en route, and a professional staff will be devoted to
making your global adventure seamless and memorable.” Travelers will
visit the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil, Easter Island, Samoa, Borneo,
Laos, Nepal, Madagascar, Namibia, Uganda or Rwanda, and finish up at
the luxury Dorchester Hotel in London.

This is the very same WWF that says “the current growth in [carbon
dioxide] emissions must be stopped as soon as possible” and that blames
Americans for emitting 21 percent of global CO2 emissions even
though the U.S. accounts for only 5 percent of the global population.
In December 2007, the WWF launched its “Earth Hour” campaign, a global
initiative in which cities and communities simultaneously turn out
their lights for one hour “to symbolize their leadership and commitment
to finding solutions for climate change.”

So how does this fantasy trip square with the WWF’s alarmist rhetoric?

Using the carbon footprint calculator on the WWF’s own web site, the
36,800-mile trip in a Boeing 757 jet will burn about 100,000 gallons of
jet fuel to produce roughly 1,231 tons of CO2 in 25 days — that’s the
equivalent of putting about 1,560 SUVs on the road during those
three-plus weeks and that doesn’t even include emissions related to
local air, ground and water transport and other amenities.

The WWF laments on its web site that the average American produces
19.6 tons of CO2 annually, which is nearly five times the world average
of 3.9 tons per person. But during the WWF’s posh excursion, travelers
will produce 14 tons of CO2 per person. That’s 71 percent of the
average American carbon footprint and 360 percent of the average global
footprint in a mere three-and-one-half weeks. But who’s counting —
especially when you’re in “19 rows of spacious leather seats with full
ergonomic support” enjoying “gourmet meals, chilled champagne [and]
your own chef.”

I guess those are the rules when you’re one of WWF’s wealthy donors, but now contrast this with the how the WWF says the rest
of us should live our lives. The group’s web site states that “It
clearly is time for all Americans to roll up their sleeves, to take
steps to reduce emissions, to prepare for climate change, and to
encourage others to do the same.”

We, the masses, should — nay, must — use compact fluorescent light bulbs,
reduce hot water use, turn thermostats down in the winter and up in the
summer and use low-flow shower heads and faucets. We should pledge to
commute by car pool or mass transit, switch to “green power,”
and get more fuel efficient cars. We should make our lives more
expensive and less convenient so that the Green elites don’t feel too
guilty while jet-setting to exotic locales.

Maybe, you’re thinking, the WWF plans to makes its trip “carbon neutral” by purchasing carbon offsets
— after all, the group does offer a carbon offset calculator on its web
site under the heading “Join WWF in our mission to save life on Earth.”
But neither the trip brochure nor the WWF web site mentions that any offsets will be purchased — and there seems to be good reason for that.

According to the WWF’s calculator, it would cost in excess of
$44,000 to offset the carbon emissions from the jet travel alone. Then
there’s the September 2008 report from the General Accounting Office
which concluded that the carbon offset market lacked credibility. The
Republican leader of the congressional committee requesting the report
commented that “that the lack of standardization of offsets and
fundamental problems assessing and verifying credibility, leave
consumers in the dark and exposed to waste, fraud, and abuse.” Former
Clinton official Joseph Romm wrote on his blog that, “the vast majority
of offsets are, at some level, just rip-offsets.”

The Greens are apparently reluctant to fall for their own scams.

If you can’t make the WWF’s private jet expedition, the group offers
a wide variety of other pricey, carbon-spewing tours. You might be
interested in the WWF trip to the Galapagos or Fiji Islands, where
you’re less likely to run into pesky downscale local tourists. The WWF
has called for limitations on local tourism in the Galapagos and Fiji
Islands saying that it causes greater environmental damage than “larger
tourist operations” — like the WWF’s.

I’ve been thinking that WWF’s bandit-like panda bear was an
appropriate logo given the group’s promotion of “rip-offsets.” But now,
I think that a new logo may be in order — perhaps a hippo-crite?

Steven Milloy publishes, manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is ajunk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.