'Greenest President Ever' trip to India has a carbon footprint bigger than the citizens of many US cities

From the 4th Seoul International Media Art Biennale Seoul Museum of Art - http://seoulmoa.seoul.go.kr/html/eng/index.jsp

Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, wrote in January 2010 on the Huffington Post that President Barack Obama was “The Greenest President Ever“.

Weeellll….maybe not. You see, today we have these headlines:

The Daily Mail: Forty planes and six armoured cars: Obama visit to India the ‘biggest ever by a US President’

NDTV reports: US to spend $200 million a day on Obama’s Mumbai visit

(Note: snopes.com posted on November 4th that this $200 million figure was wrong, but at the same time the White House can’t provide the actual numbers for security reasons. However, the numbers are likely inflated and a result of an error that started with an Indian News Agency that got repeated. – read details here The Daily Mail has not retracted their story as of the evening of November 4th. If they do, we will certainly follow.  -Anthony)

…About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists would accompany the President. Several officials from the White House and US security agencies are already here for the past one week with helicopters, a ship and high-end security instruments…

Of course we know any US President doesn’t travel lightly, and needs security details and armored cars…but really, 3000 people and forty aircraft?

Let’s do the carbon math:

Estimate of the carbon footprint of President Obama’s trip to India

We are constantly told how bad air travel is for the planet. For example the UK has a whole organization dedicated to the issue, called “Plane Stupid”. Fortunately it is groups like these that enable us to calculate the carbon emissions of air travel using the handy dandy Terrapass web page.

1. If one assumes that all 3,000 people fly commercial from Washington, DC to New Delhi and back (and nowhere else), their cumulative carbon footprint can be calculated according to Terrapass at http://www.terrapass.com/carbon-footprint-calculator/#air.

Here’s the info on their calculation methodology.

So here’s what we get for the maximum number of people, ten, that we can select at one time on that website. Note that Bombay India is now called Mumbai, but the airport code is still BOM in Terrapass:

So multiply 62,238 lbs of CO2 for ten people times 300 (to make three thousand) and we get: 18, 671,400 lbs, or 9,336 short tons (2000 lbs) or 8,469 metric tons of CO2

To get the per capita figure in metric tons, divide that again by 3000 people which gives us 2.823 metric tons per person for this round trip.

2. The Brookings Institute did a survey in 2008 ranking major US cities by their per capita emissions. You can read the full report here. (PDF). If we were to compare his trip to the city table:

Obama’s trip comes in between Memphis and Raleigh on a per capita basis.

3. Caveat: Of course, this calculation excludes the carbon footprint for also traveling to Indonesia, S. Korea and Indonesia as part of this Grand Tour, as well as any other activity while in those places. Plus vehicles, and other forms of travel.

If we figured in all the travel, it would well be higher.

The message? Travel lightly but carry a big hockey stick.

4. If Obama wanted to offset the Carbon using the tool of choice of his buddy, Al Gore, the Chicago Climate Exchange, he could do so pretty cheaply since carbon offsets there are selling for 5 cents per metric ton.

So with 8,469 metric tons of CO2 emitted for the Washington to Bombay round trip, he could buy a carbon indulgence for a mere $423.45. That’s chump change when you are blowing a cool 200 million per day to keep everybody traveling in style.


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Tom in Florida

Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

Jeff Larson

Our government has found a way to be on permanent vacation at taxpayer expense. Yes, we must keep that deficit spending going to keep those poor banks alive!

I didn’t have kids and haven’t flown on a plane since 1992.
Done my bit for the environment.
Where’s my bloody rebate Al Gore?


Somebody remind me why he’s going to India? Is there a party or something I don’t know about? I thought Obama was hip to technology. Did anyone clue him in about Netmeeting?

Patrick Davis

Do as we say not as we do.
Orwells’ 1984 and the movie Soilent Green sould be a warning of things to come.

John Trigge

“Do as I say, not as I do” is a common mantra of the green brigades, politicians and all others who would control our lives to save the planet. remember, this is all for your own good and they only have your best interests at heart.


The G8 and g20 met in Toronto over a weekend this summer. They met over teh weekend. The G20 arrived on Friday and left at about noon on Sunday.
The security cost for this meeting was 1 billion (thats right a billion for 3 days) dollars.
How could anybody spend a billion dollars for a 3 day event? The G20 met a few months later in Seoul so the billion dollars was for a meeting that will happen seveal times a year.


Some wag got in quick on Wikipedia. It doesn’t show up on the wiki article, but searching for Boeing 747 on Google currently gives me this snippet attached to the Wikipedia result:

Recent groundbreaking studies from the university of Harvard have proven that President Barack Obama has the same anatomical makeup as a Boeing 747

Might explain some of it…

Peter Miller

The most important thing to realise about a green politician is what they are really trying to say: “But that doesn’t apply to me, I’m far too important. It only applies to the ‘little people’ like you, you and you.”
Al Gore is an absolute classic example of this.
Perhaps the new Republican controlled House of Representatives can make Obama travel economy class.

Old Goat

Whilst these holier-than-thou “do as we say, not what as we do” hypocrites continue to be entertained, this type of nonsense will persist.
They, unfortunately, are blind to their own failings.

Old Goat

There’s an extraneous “what” in my last – ignore it!


Mr. Watts
BO must have read your blog and realized man-made global warming was a hoax; or
Two, Democrats are having their last fling before the writing on the wall dries; or.
Three, a trial run for after the 2012 elections.
Let’s hope the White House staff doesn’t let him take the toilets when he leaves.

A C Osborn

A typical case of DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO.


It reminds me of the Circus of the ancient Kings when they would pack up their entire court and travel the country. Bloody expensive….

Murray Grainger

It *is* definitely worse than we thought.
About these “carbon emissions”. I have been carefully watching my wife’s diamond ring since carbon started emitting a few years back but have not noticed any significant change. Should I study a lump of coal instead? Would it, being bigger than her diamond, show the carbon emitting phenomena more clearly?

R. de Haan

Only a small price to pay for the One who promised to bankrupt the coal industry.


And that’s only calculating the per capita figure.
There’s still those six armoured cars and all the equipment for the 3000 personnel to get into India, bet that’s a bit more than the personal allowance!


What, no visa to Pakistan?

Don B

Evidence of more excess is that Obama’s group booked the entire 570 room Taj Mahal Hotel, and 300 more rooms in three other hotels.


Some of that is my money. (grrrrr….)
I don’t see that there will be any return on that money; the trip won’t avert a war or bring a few billion bucks of revenue back to the U.S. That’s a lot of jack for what amounts to a sightseeing tour.

Pull My Finger

Just shows what a fool Carl Pope is. Obama has no use for “Greenies” other than as a political tool. He knows Greens will never vote Republican, ever, so he pays them a little lip service here and there to mollify them. Other than that he has done nothing green at all. Notice how hard he’s pushing cap and trade? Oh, you haven’t? How about all those green jobs?
Good result for common sense in the energy and environment sector last night. Republicans crush the House, Senate will be close to 50-50 with the Dems having a 1-3 vote advantage (if you count WVa Dem Senator who campaigned on repealing Obama care, cap and trade). Looks like ex-Republican Murkowsky won her write in campaing handily in Alaska. We’ll see what happens, sometimes when neither party has too much power the best results come about.

Frank K.

Limiting carbon footprints is for the little people…
When the new Congress is sworn in, it is my fervent hope that we can begin the process of defunding the climate elites at NASA , NOAA, the UN, and elsewhere so as to reduce their carbon footprints on my wallet…


I hope he is not going to lecture India on “global warming”: lots of Indian villagers are not even connected to the electric grid, and the move around bare foot or on a bicycle at most. If the IPCC Chair would not have been the Indian Pachauri, the Indian government would have been even less interested in this.
President Obama does needs a lot of security as his “trusted” ally Pakistan is housing all kinds of terrorists since decades and still receiving plenty of American cash and hardware at the same time.

CPT. Charles

Once again, reality trumps The Onion.


We must ask ourselves why some of those in power are so hated that they need an ‘army’ to protect them. If their actions and truths were self-evident and transparent, they were aligned with the aspirations of the people they ‘represent’, and they spread global goodwill and fairness, they could walk the streets and happily shake hands with people in any country.


If they admit to it costing $200 million per day, imagine what it really costs.
On the plus side, they can buy carbon offsets (aka indulgences) for a song and tap dance.


Do as I say not as I do…


It’s amazing how quiet most of the front groups for ‘greenness’ are, when it comes to their favorite President. And he is blind to the irony of his huge travel expenses, carbon footprint, etc. Just as so many of the leaders of the liberal movement are. This calculation of ‘carbon footprint’ doesn’t include all of the air traffic and ground traffic, the circling planes and idling cars, the wasted hours of commuters, in the cities where he so unabashedly visits. Just as when he visited Los Angeles and tied up traffic in the biggest snarl you can imagine, it just doesn’t signify in his internal calculations that he is making everyone else inconvenienced.
You know, we have this amazing thing called the Internet… conference calls…. ‘Go To Meeting” software… showing fiscal restraint in times like these would be amazingly positive… but no, he has to go and visit in person, shake hands and sit down face to face… with three thousand in tow! You don’t get treated like Royalty on the internet, no press conferences, no front page pictures…. so these big dog and pony shows go on.
And who was it that suggested that we use one sheet of toilet paper? Huh.

John Nicklin

Yes, but its “green carbon” its only bad dirty carbon when the great unwashed do such things.

I know you use the term ‘carbon footprint’ facetiously, mocking those who take it seriously, but it drives me crazy. Doubtless the greenies will miss the joke, and just nod approvingly.
This extravagant presidential (lower case) junket is plenty obscene on its face, a lavish waste of the taxpayers’ money on a scale befitting some tinhorn royalty, regardless of how much ‘carbon’ is emitted.
/Mr Lynn

UK Sceptic

My goodness, Mr. President, those are mighty big feet you have…


WOW! 200 MILLION PER DAY, Really???? I really want to know who comes up with figures? IMO they need to trim the list by A LOT. OH yes the CO2, Well at least with all the bull sh!t Obama slings the CO2 can help fertelize some where else for a change.


They really think they are so important, they can save the world………

H.R. says:
November 3, 2010 at 5:29 am
I don’t see that there will be any return on that money; the trip won’t avert a war or bring a few billion bucks of revenue back to the U.S. That’s a lot of jack for what amounts to a sightseeing tour.

The modus operandi of the previous administration seemed to be to bring a few billion bucks of revenue back to the (favoured corporations in the) U.S. by starting wars rather than averting them.
“Forty planes and six armoured cars”? Pah. Check the Gulf War’s carbon footprint. Not to mention the depleted uranium bootprint.


So what’s the alternative? Don’t protect him while he is there?
[Go. But go only when needed. Go only with what’s needed. Robt]

“The greenest president ever”
I thought President Obama was black.
For folk who don’t see colour these librals don’t half obsess about it.lol


Should be no surprise. It is consistent for a Progressive Collectivist like Obama. The political elite deserves this kind of attention and service since they know better what is appropriate for the rest of us, even if they have no intent of applying on themselves that which they want us to do for the good of society.
Meanwhile, here in the People’s Republic of California, we now have Progressive Collectivists top-to-bottom in the leadership, including the top three who have demonstrated a very soft regard for the rule of law. Add to that an unbridled AB32 that allows a band of unelected religious zealots to wreck havoc on energy and business in the state. When it all comes apart, will they take responsibility for the failure? Probably not. It is not their way.


It’s ok he’d pass for a local anyway…


Obama’s visit to Trinidad and Tobago a couple of years ago can trump that. On top of the (presumably ubiquitous) extensive US Naval presence, with all the associated emissions – although, come to think of it, the nuclear powered carrier doesn’t add to that – and the usual entourage, 200 brand new luxury German cars were purchased for the visit by T&T.


tallbloke says:
November 3, 2010 at 7:00 am
:o) I appreciate your point, tallbloke, but this trip isn’t even to start a war. As near as I can make it, it’s pure sightseeing… and photo ops. of course.
I’ll eat my cyberwords if he makes it back home having accomplished anything of consequence.

Compare our current President with the last great President:

Werner Weber

Could somebody explain to me, how you get to 200 Million US$ cost per day for the visit of President Obama?
3000 people travel with him, that is a lot. Altogether roughly 3000 metric tons of kerosin are burnt, makes 2 million US$ (7 barrels per ton and 90 US$ per barrel). Lease of the airplanes is five times the fuel cost, makes it 10 Million US$ . Each person has 1000 US$ expenses per day and gets another 1000 US$ extra pay. Makes another 6 Million US $. Sofar I am still short of 20 Million US$ per day. Where is that factor of 10 hidden in the calculation of NDTV?

Dexter Trask

There’s a reason we hold wheels-up parties at embassies at the conclusion of presidential visits. 3,000 is the biggest number for a POTUS trip that I’ve even seen, however.

mike sphar

O does greens but usually after doing the fairways first. Does anybody know his handicap ? Or is that hidden along with the birth cert ?
The planes I’ve been flying on lately have been filled with vacationers, zero seats available. So does that make the plane flight greener ? Or just more crowded. Is this what a recession feels like ? Tough to get cheap flights to the tropics!


Watch for a ‘Hail Mary’ attempt to pass Cap & Tax during the lame duck session starting 15 November. The mechanism: Reid and the senate accept and pass the House Bill (Waxman/Markey) without changes. Obama signs.
Only way to stop is if some Dem senators realize they’re toast in 2012 if they sign on to the travesty.

Layne Blanchard

I’m so glad I clicked that link…. 🙂 Well done.

Only the people affected with the Dalton disease can see the real color of greens=RED 🙂

NDTV reports: US to spend $200 million a day on Obama’s Mumbai visit
That’s only TWO BUCKS at 1950’s value. Cheap!

John from CA

This is why Presidents shouldn’t travel but invite guests to the USA — its cheaper.
Regarding the CO2, its ok – Obama already knows CO2 isn’t a problem.