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Paul McCartney sings with Bono at Live 8, Photo: The Admiralty

Paul McCartney has an impressive list of philanthropic and charitable credits.

From breast cancer research to animal rights and endangered species protection, McCartney has donated millions of dollars to support the issues he cares about.

He has hosted or participated in concerts to raise funds for causes as diverse as the US Campaign for Burma and the September 11 recovery effort.

And he has supported a number of charities: Adopt-a-Minefield, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Keep a Child Alive, Make Poverty History, PETA, Paralympics Great Britain, and War Child, to name just a few.

But when recently asked by New York Magazine if his lifestyle is excessive, McCartney demurred– “I must say I’m not that excessive.” Nonetheless, he admitted, “[O]ccasionally, I will do something that’s a bit of a splurge, like hire a private plane if it’s necessary.”

While private jets may be smaller than commercial airliners, their carbon emission rate may be as damaging–if not more so–than jumbo jets because of the passenger ratio.

Is there an inconsistency between McCartney’s talk and McCartney’s walk? Should McCartney and other celebrities who are frequent flyers on their own planes change their traveling habits? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



About The Author

Julie Schwietert

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator currently in New York, formerly of Mexico City and San Juan.

  • Xander

    I don’t know the ins and outs of Mcartney’s lifestyle, or the ins and outs of his charity work. I think the real question being asked here is:

    Do his negative actions gain justification through the positive work he does?

    If he’s using a private jet because he’s flying his baked potato chef in Liverpool out to a photoshoot in the Bahamas, then the answer is no. If he’s using a private jet to get himself (and the resulting news coverage) to a press conference promoting a new micro-loans initiative that helps victims of domestic abuse in third world countries, then the answer might just be yes.

  • Tim Patterson

    Well, at least he eats vegetarian meals on those private planes.

  • Eva

    It sounds like (if the quote is to be believed, in any case) his private plane usage is pretty limited — he describes it as an occasional splurge. For a guy that devotes a ton of time and money to the causes he supports, I’d guess the math (good vs harm done) still works out in his favor.

    It does still raise the question of leading by example and really living the principles you espouse, though.

    (And of course, in my book, support for PETA counts in the “harm done” category! :P)

  • Julie Schwietert

    @Xander: Good questions… though I wonder if they imply a sort of moral relativism (ie: If I raise consciousness of thousands of people about an important issue, I am permitted the right of occasional decisions that contradict the very issue I support).

    @Eva: Re. living by example- here’s what I wonder: Why is a private jet necessary at all? First class isn’t enough? The same issue of preaching environmentalism and enjoying the convenience of a private jet has also been raised regarding Al Gore… I’m just not clear on why a private jet is necessary.

  • Kate

    I don’t know that first class would be private enough to avoid being mobbed if you were Paul McCartney.

    Considering the amount of plastic bottles people waste just drinking water because they’re too chickenshit to drink from the tap, I’d say a couple private airplane rides are probably not that big a deal in the scheme of things – especially related to the amount of pollution we all generate daily – and the amount of positive change it seems he is making.

  • Marshall Willenholly

    Another elitist asshole. Do as I say, not as do & I consume the  planet because I am rich.

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