Two days ago, Bernie Sanders “stake[d] out [a] forceful climate stance,” according to a glowing report from the HuffPost. In the weeks prior to that, though, the erstwhile 2016 presidential hopeful embarked on a more forceful air campaign to lift fellow progressives demanding action on climate change. The Sanders campaign spent almost $300,000 on private jets as Election Day approached, the Washington Free Beacon discovered by going through FEC reports.
That was totes necessary, Sanders’ campaign claimed:
“This expense was for transportation for the senator’s nine-day, nine-state tour to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot ahead of Election Day,” campaign spokesman Arianna Jones told VTDigger.org, which was first to identify the spending. “This cost covered the entirety of the tour from Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, California, and back to Vermont.”
The Sanders campaign made a $297,685.50 payment on October 10 to Apollo Jets, a New York-based private jet service used by stars such as Derek Jeter and Shaquille O’Neill, according to its website. The company’s featured jet is a Falcon 8X, it says.
His campaign made a much smaller payment of $37,567.53 to Apollo Jets in July 2017, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
As Brent Scher points out, there are few methods of travel that produce more greenhouse-gas emissions than air travel. It might be impossible to exceed the per-person emissions of both pollution and greenhouse gases than in private jet travel. In the summer of 2017, the New York Times lectured its readers on their reliance on commercial air travel:
If you are like many people, flying may be a large portion of your carbon footprint. Over all, the aviation industry accounts for 11 percent of all transportation-related emissions in the United States.
According to some estimates, about 20,000 planes are in use around the world, serving three billion passengers annually. By 2040, more than 50,000 planes could be in service, and they are expected to fly more often.
If you’re flying, you’re adding a significant amount of planet-warming gases to the atmosphere — there’s no way around it. … The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to fly less often. If everyone took fewer flights, airline companies wouldn’t burn as much jet fuel.
According to the World Bank, the average American generated about 16.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2013; according to some calculations, a round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco emits about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person.
Again, that’s for a commercial flight, which might have anywhere between 70 to 200 people on board. A similar flight for just one principal would emit 200 metric tons of CO2 (depending on the aircraft) — while the scheduled commercial flight flies the same route at the same time. Those who truly care about CO2 emissions would never choose to travel in this manner except in only the most dire emergencies … for which electioneering to increase one’s influence absolutely does not qualify. The question for Sanders is why he didn’t fly commercial rather than duplicate the carbon emissions by repeatedly using private jets, a luxury that seems a lot more oligarchical than populist to boot.
So what did Sanders say when he staked out a supposedly impressive stance on climate change? The HuffPost’s quotes from Sanders at the event hardly seem impressive, let alone substantive:
“Tonight we are dealing with what the scientific community tells us is the great crisis facing our planet and facing humanity,” Sanders said in his opening statement. “That is climate change.” …
“Unlike commercial television, this event is not sponsored by Exxon Mobil,” Sanders said. “Nor is it paid or sponsored by the Koch brothers, who made most of their fortune in the fossil fuel industry.”
It doesn’t take much to impress HuffPost, apparently. Actions speak louder than words, but especially so when the words are nothing more that a couple of slogans married up to demonization. Maybe someone can ask Sanders whether his private-jet flights used fuel from ExxonMobil. In the meantime, as Glenn Reynolds often says, I’ll believe it’s a crisis when alarmists like Sanders act like it is.