It doesn’t get more hypocritical than A-listers jetting in on private planes to kvetch about climate change at a private party in Sicily organized by Google, the Divine Miss (Miranda) Devine opined in a column this past week for the New York Post.
“The Gulfstreams, mega-yachts and gas-guzzling Maserati SUVs used to ferry to wokerati around the seaside Google Camp have been spewing out greenhouse gases at the rate of small nations.”
Like so many inconvenient truths, this one happens to be true.
One observer counted no fewer than 114 private planes at Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s 300- invited-guest shindig dubbed “Davos by the Sea,” where Prince Harry and Bill Gates rubbed tuxedo-clad shoulders with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and pop star Katy Perry.
The optics were terrible, which is odd considering that so many of the entertainment eco-celebs present earn their living through their public image.
While it’s true that media tycoon Rupert Murdoch — owner of the Post — and the media barons behind the UK Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, both of which published angry screeds about the awful, awful hypocrisy of it all, have an anti-climate, pro-Big Oil bias, it’s also true that they have a point.
After all, celebrities are in no position to lecture ordinary, everyday working people about being responsible caretakers of the environment when a private yacht burns more than 300 gallons of diesel an hour, just one Gulfstream spews tons of CO2 into the atmosphere on a single, short-haul flight, and megawatts of power are required to drive the sound system at the dusk concert among the ruins of the seaside Temple of Hera.
Presumably the celebs didn’t dine on Chilean sea bass at their candlelight banquet, but one never knows with these things.
The Divine Miss Devine noted that the Verdura resort on Sicily’s southwest coast, host of the event, has won a sustainability award, despite three water-guzzling golf courses (ecologists and conservationists will tell you there are few man-made things on the planet more destructive than a golf course) and a 60-metre “infinity pool,” not to mention a small city’s worth of outdoor therapy pools, steam baths, saunas, plunge pools and, get this, a private beach made of sand not from southwestern Sicily but rather flown in and/or trucked in, using yet more fossil fuels.
Prince Harry gave a “barefoot speech” to the assembled glitterati, prompting Miss Devine to remark that it doesn’t get much sillier than being
lectured about carbon footprints by a prince whose blue-blooded family swans around their island kingdom in numerous palaces and royal estates.
As the world’s right-wing media lined up to take swings at eco-celebs with more money — literally — than they know what to do with, it was probably inevitable that some in the Murdoch media mob would unload on Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, who recently accepted an invitation to speak about the climate crisis next month before the United Nations in New York — but only after accepting Prince Albert of Monaco’s offer of his racing yacht to cross the Atlantic on wind power. Thunberg has pointedly — and publicly — refused to fly, to show her commitment to cutting her own carbon emissions.
Her accepting Prince Albert’s offer opened her to ridicule, some of it vicious, from media hacks beholden to the fossil fuel industry. News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt, a noted climate denier who writes for the Melbourne-based, Murdoch-owned Herald Sun, described Thunberg as “deeply disturbed,” “strange” and “freakishly influential,” and likened her followers to the members of a cult — Stockholm syndrome by way of a wind-powered racing yacht. “I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru,” Bolt wrote. “Far more interesting is why so many adults — including elected politicians, business leaders, the Pope and journalists — treat a young and strange girl with such awe and even rapture. Her intense fear of the climate is not surprising from someone with disorders which intensify fears.”
It’s one thing to ridicule Bono and Bradley Cooper, but quite another to ridicule a teenage girl who, just a year ago, was unknown outside the circle of her friends and family.
A teenage girl who can fight back, too.
And fight back she did.
She hit back over the weekend on Twitter, called out the “hate and conspiracy campaigns” of media carpers like Bolt, and owned his insult by turning it back on him. Her Asperger’s syndrome, she said, is not a disability but a gift that has helped open her eyes to the climate crisis — and given her the courage to take on the deniers out loud.
The Google Camp was indeed tone deaf, and made for terrible optics.
It would be a mistake, though, for the climate deniers to assume a 16-year-old soothsayer from Sweden will prove as willing a target when she takes the lectern next month at the United Nations.