Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Arnolds environmental footprint.

According to the LA Times, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves a big environmental footprint for one man, specifically with his frequent use of private jets to ferry him throughout California and the world. His two estates are large enough to house small villages. And the champion of environmental controls to curb global warming pumps far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than an ordinary citizen, by far. He is driven everywhere in a caravan of two black SUVs and, sometimes, a lead sedan.

Suvcigar Depending on the private jet he chooses from NetJets - usually it's a relatively large one, to include staff and CHP bodyguards - Schwarzenegger and his posse could dump as much as 8,700 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for a single one-hour flight from Santa Monica to Sacramento, according to data from TerraPass, the carbon retailer.

The governor favors Gulfstream jets like the one pictured below, which he used in 1997 to promote "Batman and Robin." Helium Report has a chart showing how much private jets like that can pollute. By contrast, a single person traveling alone on a commercial flight contributes 477 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Having said that although Nixon tried it once, it is not a good idea for the Governor to fly commercially. It would take hours to clear all of the other travelers to fly with him.

Schwarzenegger is the most traveling governor in California history - sometimes twice-weekly flights to Sacramento and numerous weekend trips to his Idaho estate, to Maui, Las Vegas, Washington D.C. and other out-of-state places over the past three years. (His campaign picks up the multi-million dollar tab.) It should be noted that Schwarzenegger has unique security needs that probably require private travel. He is considered an icon of the Western world and he's married to a Kennedy.

Jetschwarzenegger Given his needs, Schwarzenegger would have to spend a lot of money to be "carbon neutral." He has tried to make up for it in other ways. Schwarzenegger signed legislation last year, AB 32, to curb global warming through state government regulations. Schwarzenegger made the macho, polluting Hummer a success, but lately he has tried to make up for it by developing a version that runs on hydrogen. Yesterday, he signed an agreement with four other Western governors to set up a regional trading system to curb emissions.

Celebrities and politicians have been fretting about their carbon footprint in recent years. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, author of the global warming legislation Schwarzenegger signed, himself was mindful of his carbon output when he traveled to the Davos conference in Switzerland. He purchased $136 in carbon credits for his trip, which helped pay for a mini hydro plant in West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Schwarzenegger now has another plan: offset the pollution created by his private jet travel. Spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor is developing a program that would calculate his carbon emissions from Jan. 1, 2007, forward. Cal-EPA confirmed they are looking at putting the governor's travel on the California Climate Action Registry, which would offset his carbon emissions by planting or protecting trees and other efforts.

Schwarzenegger is in Washington D.C. this week, but then flies to the Arnold Classic bodybuilding contest in Ohio. By private jet.

Maybe someone should build a hydrogen powered jet?

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