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Al Gore Soldiers On (false alarmism, hypocrisy make for a rejected public message)

“The Koch brothers and the others who operate the way they do have worked overtime to put fear in the hearts of Republicans that if they as much as breathe a favorable breath about solving the climate crisis they’re going to get a well-financed primary opponent. And so they’re all running scared.” 

- Al Gore, quoted in Darren Samuelsohn, “Al Gore Is Not Giving UpPolitico Magazine, April 24, 2014.

“I think Al Gore’s done more to hurt this cause than he has to help it…. There are a lot of Democrats who don’t want to get within 10 miles of Al Gore on climate policy, because … he doesn’t mind turning the economy upside-down because of sort of a religious zeal he has.”

- Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted in Jean Chemnick, “Graham says Gore to Blame, not Obama, for Congress’ Antipathy toward Climate Bill,” E&E News, June 23, 2011.

It was called “a rare, frank conversation with the former vice president and climate-change activist” by journalist Darren Samuelsohn of Politico. But if only the interviewer had asked a few hard questions about why the crusade has failed. “[I]t is … indisputably true that Gore’s global warming quest has produced few clear successes,” Samuelsohn wrote, continuing:

Public opinion polls show Americans repeatedly rank climate change near the bottom of their list of priorities for the country. Greenhouse gas emissions have continued their upward march, interrupted only by the 2008 recession. Repeated legislative defeats in Washington and more than two decades of largely fruitless international negotiations have left many in the environmental movement searching for new strategies, and new leaders.

The slam-dunk case for alarmism that Gore has proffered since his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, and his 2005 movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has been contradicted in the real world. And the free-lunch promises of mass carbon reductions (carbon rationing) have turned into all-pain, no-gain propositions. Gore would have you believe it is sinister others (e.g., the libertarian Koch brothers) that are responsible for policy rejection, not the data that shows:

1) Global temperatures today little changed over the last one-to-two decades—or about the mid-date of when his book and movie came out.

2) The limits to wind and solar to replace fossil fuels in terms of quantity, cost, and reliability.

3) The backlash against systemic cronyism embedded in Gore’s crusade, as well as the unintended environmental consequences of government-forced energy transformation.

Should we be surprised?

Gore’s Self-Made Problem

A review of some of Gore’s statements and positions from decades past help to explain the public’s turnoff to his message. When he says things such as “What we are doing is functionally insane,” he is really saying that the public is dumb and selfish, and I am sage and holy. Such conceit is wearing very thin.

Even DC-establishment environmentalists have second thoughts. “There has to be a lot of shrillness taken out of our language,” remarked Environmental Defense Fund chief Fred Krupp. “In the environmental community, we have to be more humble. We can’t take the attitude that we have all the answers.”

Politician Al Gore conveniently forgot his end-of-the-world rhetoric in the heat of battle. Back in the summer of 2000, presidential candidate Gore trended Republican. “I think we need to bring gasoline prices down,” he intoned.

I have made it clear in this campaign that I am not calling for any tax increase on gasoline, on oil, on natural gas, or anything else. I am calling for tax cuts to stimulate the production of new sources of domestic energy and new technologies to improve efficiency.[1]

This from the would-be savior of our “dysfunctional” society? [2] This from the man who wrote: “We now know that [the automobile’s] cumulative impact on the global environment is posing a mortal threat to the security of every nation that is more deadly than that of any military enemy we are ever again likely to confront”? [3]

Gore had his big chance to advocate a big gasoline tax increase given what he wrote in Earth in the Balance:

Minor shifts in policy, marginal adjustments in ongoing programs, moderate improvements in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change—these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle, and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary. [4]

Even erstwhile eco-alarmist Bill McKibben had to complain:

No American politician can bear to do anything to restrict our piggish use of coal and gas and oil–not to raise energy prices or legislate against the plague of gas-guzzling SUV’s. During the campaign, Mr. Gore even demanded that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve be opened to keep fuel prices down. [5]

And all this before the Koch brothers were known to Al Gore and many others ….

Conclusion

Carnival barkers outside of carnivals do not do well. Believers in unorthodox religions do not do well either.

“I think Al Gore’s done more to hurt this cause than he has to help it,” Lindsey Graham of cap-and-trade infamy said back in 2011. “There are a lot of Democrats who don’t want to get within 10 miles of Al Gore on climate policy, because … he doesn’t mind turning the economy upside-down because of sort of a religious zeal he has.”

It is time for Darren Samuelsohn and other writers and pundits to ask Al Gore the hard questions. (Al Gore does not debate, and he only accepts friendly interviews, so Samuelsohn et al have their work cut out for them.) It is time to get to the why-behind- the-why of a futile, lost crusade.

——————

[1] Al Gore, quoted in Bennett Roth, “Gore Drops Fuel Tax Proposal, Introduces Tax Credit Incentives,” Houston Chronicle, June 29, 2000, p. 10A.

[2] Al Gore, Earth in the Balance:  Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Plume/Penguin, 1992, 1993), p. 237.

[3] Ibid., p. 325.

[4] Ibid., p. 274.

[5] Bill McKibben, “Too Hot to Handle,” New York Times, January 5, 2001, p. A21.

1 comment

1 Don Bishop { 04.28.14 at 9:30 am }

In 2013:
“Speaking at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama called for “bold action” around the world, praising Germany and the EU for its climate leadership.”
http://www.rtcc.org/2013/06/20/obama-set-to-roll-out-new-us-emission-regulations/

In 2014:
“In a stunning admission by Germany’s Economics Minister and Vice Chancellor to Angela Merkel, Sigmar Gabriel announced in a recent speech that the country’s once highly ballyhooed transformation to renewable energy, the so called Energiewende, a model that has been adopted by a number of countries worldwide, is “on the verge of failure“.
http://notrickszone.com/2014/04/27/angela-merkels-vice-chancellor-stuns-declares-germanys-energiewende-to-be-on-the-verge-of-failure/

It is not surprising that few people want to follow Gore’s advise; Germany did that, and now regrets it.

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