In a single day last week, James Cameron flew from the rain forests of Brazil, where he had been protesting a proposed hydroelectric dam project, to Washington, DC, where he attended an event on Capitol Hill held in his honor. And while the movie director traveled to both places in his capacity as a semi-professional environmentalist, a man so committed to the movement that he once endorsed “eco-terrorism,” a man so in tune with nature he posed for the cover of the New York Times in indigenous face paint, it’s likely Cameron made at least part of the trip in a private jet.
“He took a boat, a Cessna, and a jet,” confirmed his publicist, refusing to specify whether the jet was commercial or chartered. Common sense, however, suggests the latter. The nearest airport with commercially available flights is 500 miles to the west of where Cameron was, and flights from there would have included at least 19 hours of travel and three layovers.
For principled environmentalists, any air travel is hard to justify, but private planes (with their vastly lower passenger-to-emissions ratio) are all but impossible. A chartered jet flown from Los Angeles to the Amazon and back could burn over 10,000 gallons of fuel, the carbon equivalent of driving a Hummer back and forth across the United States 40 times, and all in 12 hours. For Cameron, who is given to lectures on the immorality of cheap gasoline (only with $15 to $20-a-gallon gas can we achieve “a real paradigm shift,” he said recently), it would amount to hypocrisy on an epic scale.
Cameron came to Washington to promote the DVD release of his movie Avatar, and to receive a commendation from Congresswoman Diane Watson for his work on the environment. Cameron and his wife, actress Suzy Amis, were introduced on Capitol Hill as authentic environmental activists who “walk the walk.” One of their homes, attendees at the event learned, is largely solar powered, producing enough energy that the Camerons sell their excess electricity back to the city.
Unmentioned was one of the Camerons’ other houses, an 8,200 square foot mansion in Malibu, complete with an energy-devouring swimming pool and tennis courts. According to his wife, the couple has no choice but to maintain the multi-million-dollar spread “because of Jim’s job,” adding that the house is in her estimation “80 percent sustainable.”
Cameron’s wife went on to boast to The Daily Caller that during the 107-city press tour for Avatar, Cameron took only a single private jet. She did not bother to calculate how many transcontinental Hummer trips it amounted to.