The media, especially online outlets, have been having fun criticizing the President’s recent trip to India, citing extreme cost and a huge carbon footprint as reasons why Obama should have stayed home instead.
NDTV reported that US taxpayers would spend $200 million a day on the Mumbai visit, and the decidedly conservative Daily Caller recently ran an article claiming “Obama’s trip to India has a carbon footprint bigger than many US cities.”
The high cost and carbon footprint associated with the trip (which was official business, and not a pleasure cruise as some have insinuated) are allegedly the results of a 3,000 person Presidential entourage (including members of the press), a military escort of 40 aircraft and two marine helicopters, and the renting of the entire 570 room Taj Mahal hotel.
Transporting this many people and pieces of equipment overseas would involve a breathtaking carbon footprint. If it were true.
Activists and climate hawks already disappointed with the President’s lack of progress on many important environmental issues might feel like throwing in the towel, but it’s important to have all the facts before waving the white flag.
Snopes reported that the only source for the mind-blowing $200 million per day expense outlay was a quote from a single anonymous Indian official who provided no explanation of how that sum was derived.
But what about all those military vehicles?
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell made a rare exception to his policy of not discussing Presidential security details to say the “notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy—some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier—in support of the president’s trip to Asia,” was “just comical.” “Nothing close to that is being done,” Morrell continued in the Nov. 6th press briefing.
And the Presidential entourage?
The Wall Street Journal called the details of the report “demonstrably incorrect,” especially when it came to facts about renting out the entire Taj Mahal hotel and picking up the tab for members of the press. “The press pays its own way at considerable cost to media outlets, not the US taxpayer,” wrote Jonathan Weisman on the Washington Wire.
What’s so exciting about India anyway?
One of the most important reasons for the President to visit India involved creating more jobs for Americans.
The AP reported that, “By the end of the first of his three days in India, he was promoting $10 billion in trade deals – completed in time for his visit – that the White House says will create about 54,000 jobs at home.”
And, as a fellow Care2 blogger so aptly put it, Obama visited India on his way to the G20 in Seoul, South Korea. This was an obligation because the G20 was discussing global currency policy and the U.S. needs to be in on that sort of meeting.
All international travel has a significant carbon footprint, but all Presidents (including the Republican ones) have to do it anyway. By stopping in India along the way to South Korea instead of taking an entirely separate trip to India at a later date some carbon emissions were actually saved.
Image Credit: topnews.in