Many famous entertainers love preaching to America about environmental issues and war. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Mike VanBuren says they first ought to look at their own lavish lifestyles:
Many famous entertainers love preaching to America about environmental issues and war. But
Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Mike VanBuren says they first ought to look at their
own lavish lifestyles:
On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, musician Sheryl Crow issued a challenge on her web site.
She urged those supporting the military action to trade in their “gas guzzlers” and buy smaller cars.
She said this will break our dependency on foreign oil and, presumably, help avoid future wars.
Sheryl’s challenge goes nicely with recent claims by other Hollywood celebrities. Namely, that
SUVs are as threatening to America as angry members of al-Qaida. Sheryl’s no terrorist, so she
promised to sell her own SUV – a BMW.
I’m sure these critics are well intentioned. And I agree that we need to find ways to conserve
energy and break our addiction to Middle East crude. But they seldom mention anything about the
sprawling mansions they live in, the stretch limousines they use, or the fuel-guzzling jets they fly to
holidays in Paris and Acapulco.
All these things – and more – make us dependent on foreign oil. SUVs are only part of the
equation. The U.S. Department of Energy says that transportation of goods and people accounts
for less than a third of our energy use. Another third is consumed by homes and commerce, and
slightly more than that by industry.
So why are celebrities taking aim only at SUV owners – while ignoring their own energy wasting
It reminds me of students at a conservation school I attended many years ago. Each of us wanted
to save the environment. Or so we said.
One day, I challenged classmates about driving into town each evening to drink beer and dance at
local taverns. How could we teach others to save resources if we couldn’t keep our own cars
parked for even a few days?
They rolled their eyes and snickered at my stinginess. Our instructor – a Ph.D. in biology – called
me a “sour grape.”
He may have been right. I could be a “sour grape.” But I can’t help it – especially when I meet
self-righteous do-gooders. They tend to see others with 20/20 vision, but are blind to the
wastefulness in their own lives.
The last time I was in Tinseltown, I was struck by the number of fancy SUVs that were tooling
around Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Some of them were parked outside homes as big as Saudi
I drove past the Shrine Auditorium on Oscar night. I saw a huge parking lot full of long, white
limos. Their engines were running, so air conditioners could keep the stars cool when they emerged
for trips to parties across town.
If Hollywood elites want us to drive smaller cars, shouldn’t they start by changing their own
consumptive lifestyles? And couldn’t the privileged class save energy by flying less, driving Hondas
to the Academy Awards show, and draining the water from their heated swimming pools?
Mike VanBuren is an award-winning environmental writer living near Richland, Michigan.