Across Europe, energy consumption per capita is about one half of that in the United States. This is not so because they use more energy efficient light bulbs or have more turf on their roofs. Almost all of the difference can be explained by settlement patterns. Europeans are more urban. They live closer together, walk more often and have access to good transit. Gore should champion such environmentally sound ways of living.
Gore could use his stature to promote ending heavy tax subsidies for sprawl-inducing highways, separate-use zoning and for large lot single family housing that all have negative side effects . Doing so would help the United States reduce its carbon profile and make the economy more efficient. Conservative economist Ed Glaeser's latest book, Triumph of the City, highlights the economic and environmental benefits that flow from cities. Glaeser notes that per capita energy consumption in Manhattan is 25 percent of the U.S. national average. Glaeser demonstrates that compact urban development is not only energy efficient, but serves as a setting for inventiveness, entrepreneurship and wealth producing markets. Go to Al Gore's website though and there is almost nothing about urban policy, land-use and U.S. living patterns. If a conservative like Glaeser can recognize the value of urbanism, why can't Gore? [See a slide show of 10 cities adopting smart grid technology.]
Gore's critique of Obama as too cautious is not inaccurate. Yet, President Obama has begun to move federal policy in the right direction by ordering the EPA, HUD, and the USDOT to work together on a sustainability partnership to better serve the needs of cities, regions and states. Yes, the president should be more forceful and enthusiastically promote his agenda addressing climate change. Gore's criticisms would prove far more effective however if he hadn't shied away from the very same issue in the 2000 campaign. As such, Gore's remarks read as hollow as Obama's measured silence. Both the 2000 election and the 2010 congressional elections show what happens when Democrats hide their true beliefs and campaign on banalities- they lose.
- See a slide show of the 10 states that use the most energy per capita
- See a slide show of the 10 states that use the least energy per capita.
- See a slide show of 10 animals that are threatened by global warming..