Our Nobel prize-winning former vice president has a must-read 7000-word essay in Rolling Stone, “Climate of Denial: Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?”
Gore discusses climate science and the link to recent record-smashing extreme weather events, of course. And he makes clear the stakes are too high to become disillusioned by our flawed political system, “What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.”
What I will focus on here are his blistering critique of Obama, his even tougher take on the media, and the “five basic ways” individuals can make a difference. Let’s start with the president:
President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States….
During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis — and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from “How do we complete this historic breakthrough?” to “How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?”
… Yet without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change. The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is “the power to persuade.” Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.
No argument here (see The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2). Gore continues:
Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States…
The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come.
Predictably, the media has jumped on Gore’s criticism of Obama.
ABC News Politics has run the AP story with its headline, “Gore Faults Obama on Global Warming.” The lede: “Former Vice President Al Gore is going where few environmentalists — and fellow Democrats — have gone before: criticizing President Barack Obama’s record on global warming.”
Memo to ABC News and the AP: Obama has been widely criticized by environmentalists.
But what is particularly absurd about this story is that it never mentions that Gore launches an even more blistering and detailed attack on the media! In fact, that’s how Gore’s essay begins — by comparing the mainstream media today to the referees of professional wrestling (!!):
The first time I remember hearing the question “is it real?” was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by “professional wrestlers” one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.
The evidence that it was real was palpable: “They’re really hurting each other! That’s real blood! Look a’there! They can’t fake that!” On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today’s language, a “narrative”), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.
But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the “rules” — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question “Is it real?” seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?
That is pretty much the role now being played by most of the news media in refereeing the current wrestling match over whether global warming is “real,” and whether it has any connection to the constant dumping of 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions into the Earth’s thin shell of atmosphere every 24 hours.
Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it’s a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.
The referee — in this analogy, the news media — seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business. Is he responsible for ensuring a fair match? Or is he part of the show, selling tickets and building the audience? The referee certainly seems distracted: by Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, the latest reality show — the list of serial obsessions is too long to enumerate here.
Funny how the AP missed that part right up front in the piece. But that’s not even the half of it. Gore continues:
But whatever the cause, the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the “rules” of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made “legal” and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. (Question: Would Michael Jordan have been a star if he was covered by four defensive players every step he took on the basketball court?)
This script, of course, is not entirely new: A half-century ago, when Science and Reason established the linkage between cigarettes and lung diseases, the tobacco industry hired actors, dressed them up as doctors, and paid them to look into television cameras and tell people that the linkage revealed in the Surgeon General’s Report was not real at all. The show went on for decades, with more Americans killed each year by cigarettes than all of the U.S. soldiers killed in all of World War II.
This time, the scientific consensus is even stronger. It has been endorsed by every National Academy of science of every major country on the planet, every major professional scientific society related to the study of global warming and 98 percent of climate scientists throughout the world. In the latest and most authoritative study by 3,000 of the very best scientific experts in the world, the evidence was judged “unequivocal.”
But wait! The good guys transgressed the rules of decorum, as evidenced in their private e-mails that were stolen and put on the Internet. The referee is all over it: Penalty! Go to your corner! And in their 3,000-page report, the scientists made some mistakes! Another penalty!
And if more of the audience is left confused about whether the climate crisis is real? Well, the show must go on. After all, it’s entertainment. There are tickets to be sold, eyeballs to glue to the screen.
It will be fascinating to see if the entire media simply chooses to ignore this devastating critique and focus just on Gore’s comments on Obama, which will, ironically enough, make Gore’s point that the media is interested only in the drama, not the substance.
I would add that the media doesn’t just mis-report the climate story, it under-reports the story of the century — see Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010.
And Gore continues his evisceration of the media later in the piece:
Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer selling tickets to a phony wrestling match?
He then has a long discussion of how the media played into Bush’s hands in the run-up to the Iraq war, and then goes back to climate:
These vulnerabilities, rooted in our human nature, are being manipulated by the tag-team of Polluters and Ideologues who are trying to deceive us. And the referee — the news media — is once again distracted. As with the invasion of Iraq, some are hyperactive cheerleaders for the deception, while others are intimidated into complicity, timidity and silence by the astonishing vitriol heaped upon those who dare to present the best evidence in a professional manner. Just as TV networks who beat the drums of war prior to the Iraq invasion were rewarded with higher ratings, networks now seem reluctant to present the truth about the link between carbon pollution and global warming out of fear that conservative viewers will change the channel — and fear that they will receive a torrent of flame e-mails from deniers.
And this entire critique of the media occurs before Gore even mentions Obama. From my perspective, as I’ve said many times, the anti-science crowd and their disinformation campaign and associated think tanks, pundits, and right-wing media deserve about 60% of the blame for our inaction. The media, perhaps 30%. The “Think Small” centrists and lukewarmers who also helped shrink the political space in the debate deserve 5%.
So ‘only’ 5% of blame goes to Obama and his team (along with Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives).
But of course, from a historical perspective — and, I suspect from the perspective of most progressives — there are two huge differences between Obama versus the disinformers, media, and centrist/lukewarmers. Obama is the President of the United States, a person who can single-handedly determine the agenda and the national debate. Second, those other people don’t know any better.
So it is perfectly reasonable to focus on Obama — but the media deserves far more blame, a point Gore is clearly making by opening the piece with his critique of the media and offering a far lengthier critique of them than Obama.
Finally, as always, Gore does offer positive suggestions:
All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality. We ignored reality in the marketplace and nearly destroyed the world economic system. We are likewise ignoring reality in the environment, and the consequences could be several orders of magnitude worse. Determining what is real can be a challenge in our culture, but in order to make wise choices in the presence of such grave risks, we must use common sense and the rule of reason in coming to an agreement on what is true.
So how can we make it happen? How can we as individuals make a difference? In five basic ways:
First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it’s some sort of hoax, don’t let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.
Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution. Some of the corporate changes are more symbolic than real — “green-washing,” as it’s called — but a surprising amount of real progress is taking place. Walmart, to pick one example, is moving aggressively to cut its carbon footprint by 20 million metric tons, in part by pressuring its suppliers to cut down on wasteful packaging and use lower-carbon transportation alternatives. Reward those companies that are providing leadership.
Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue. The Alliance for Climate Protection (climateprotect.org), which I chair, has grassroots action plans for the summer and fall that spell out lots of ways to fight effectively for the policy changes we need. We can also enable you to host a slide show in your community on solutions to the climate crisis — presented by one of the 4,000 volunteers we have trained. Invite your friends and neighbors to come and then enlist them to join the cause.
Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate — and let them know you’re fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they’re frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don’t let up! It’s true that some media outlets are getting instructions from their owners on this issue, and that others are influenced by big advertisers, but many of them are surprisingly responsive to a genuine outpouring of opinion from their viewers and readers. It is way past time for the ref to do his job.
Finally, and above all, don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, “Now go out and make me do it.”
On that final point, Gore urges the people become single-issue voters, which I could not agree more with:
To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: “I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you — regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you.”
Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on “don’t ask, don’t tell?” It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes. When enough people care passionately enough to drive that message home on the climate crisis, politicians will look at their hole cards, and enough of them will change their game to make all the difference we need.
This is not naive; trust me on this. It may take more individual voters to beat the Polluters and Ideologues now than it once did — when special-interest money was less dominant. But when enough people speak this way to candidates, and convince them that they are dead serious about it, change will happen — both in Congress and in the White House. As the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once observed, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.”
What is now at risk in the climate debate is nothing less than our ability to communicate with one another according to a protocol that binds all participants to seek reason and evaluate facts honestly. The ability to perceive reality is a prerequisite for self-governance. Wishful thinking and denial lead to dead ends. When it works, the democratic process helps clear the way toward reality, by exposing false argumentation to the best available evidence. That is why the Constitution affords such unique protection to freedom of the press and of speech.
The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable — given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason — of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.
Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:
Beyond taking those to task who deserve it, I applaud Al Gore for wrapping this message up in an effective frame that most Americans can easily understand. We all know “pro” wrestling is fake. Climate activists know that the climate “debate” is just as fake. I hope Gore keeps using this frame.
Run a Google news search for “Al Gore”. Virtually all the headlines focus on the comments Gore made about Obama. None of them mention his strong criticism of the media. Some of the verbs employed in the headlines: Blast, Call Out, Attack, Slam.
It’s almost like Gore was running an experiment on the way the media functions. The results seem to pretty strongly confirm his hypothesis.
Spot on mate!
June 22 at 12:21pm
An astute observation. I’d love to see a systematic analysis of the coverage of Gore’s remarks.
June 22 at 2:30pm
Exactly. Right in the article, Gore wrote:
“All of his supporters understand that it would be self-defeating to weaken Obama and heighten the risk of another step backward. <em>Even writing an article like this one carries risks; opponents of the president will excerpt the criticism and strip it of context.</em>”
He called the media’s response.
June 22 at 4:21pm
CNN, John King, and The Republican Debate.
Along the lines of Al Gore’s rightful criticisms of the media, we shouldn’t let a most-recent major episode go un-analyzed and un-addressed: During the recent Republican debate, hosted by CNN, John King and CNN did not ask the candidates a single question about global warming. Not a single question. The debate was a very long one — as those of us who watched can remember — and the questions asked by CNN/King covered a whole wide range of issues. There’s no excuse.
I’ve raised this point here before, and am hoping that Joe/CP will address this head-on with a post addressed TO CNN and John King. The stage is set. The record is clear: anyone can watch a tape of the debate and see what DIDN’T happen, i.e., what topic WASN’T raised in a specific question by CNN. And Al Gore has pointed out the problem, generally, in clear terms, in ways that are also consistent with Joe’s critiques. Yet it’s time to name names and get specific. The generic complaints are far too easy for the media to ignore and don’t “hit home” with particular media companies or particular reporters or media celebs. So it’s time to name names and point out particular faults: This time, it’s CNN and John King.
I’ve also posted a comment (long ago, just after the debate) to this effect on Curtis Brainard’s “The Observatory”. In my view, it’s Curtis’s job to raise this issue, pointedly. Curtis — CNN and John King did not even ask a question (to the Repub candidates) about global warming in that first major debate! What do you think of THAT? What are you going to DO about that? Will you raise this point as a critique? If so, great. If not, in my mind the point and credibility of “The Observatory” will take a nose-dive, fast.
So what will it be? Joe/CP, will you folks point out the deep flaw in CNN’s and John King’s handling of the Repub debate? Curtis and “The Observatory”, will you point out the problem, as you should?
If we don’t do things like this, we’ll “deserve” what we get in future debates.
John King — what’s your response?
Monckton compares Garnaut to Hitler.
A British politician has called the Australian Government’s chief climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, a fascist.
Oops: My Apologies to Curtis.
Oops. When I wrote my recent comment, I hadn’t visited “The Observatory” in recent days. I now see that Curtis Brainard HAS recently raised the issue that CNN and John King did not ask a question about climate change in the recent Repub debate. Thanks Curtis! And I apologize for my uninformed pushiness in the earlier comment today.
Obama is merely a caretaker President- from now till all chaos lets loose- which could happen any time soon.
As for the media- they are like red light district prostitutes- with short skirts, high heeled boots and made up to the hilt- winking at Exxon-Mobile and Koch industries.
Is Fascism here? Yep.
Peter – I agree, but would like to add that the prostitutes are of both genders, primarily male.
June 23 at 4:38am
The media as professional wrestling referees — and Obama as ineffectual. No doubt Obama’s views are “evolving”….
Dear President Obama,
I was a very enthusiastic supporter of yours during the 2008 presidential campaign. I made over 2,000 phone calls on your behalf during the primary and general election campaigns. I went door to door canvassing on your behalf in multiple states. I wrote to all my friends and family members advocating your election. I donated to your campaign – many times.
The reason I worked so hard for you was your commitment to addressing climate change. At one point during your campaign, you said if you could do only one thing in your presidency, it would be to address climate change – because addressing climate change would help our economy, create jobs, improve our national security, and improve our environment.
This is the number one issue for me – and until I hear you actively moving climate change to the top of your priorities – I will not be working on behalf of your campaign.
I will not be contributing to your campaign until it is clear you have made our environment a major priority of your administration. Instead, I will be working on behalf of organizations and candidates who make our environment their top priority.
It isn’t a good sign when you fail speak out about the crisis we are facing. When you don’t connect the dots between the environmental disasters of the last 12 to 18 months. Unprecedented floods, droughts, wildfires, biodiversity loss. The Massey coal mine explosion, the BP oil disaster, the Fukushima catastrophe.
It is disappointing to hear you continue to raise false hopes about “clean” coal.
Stand up and fight for your people. Take on those who would deny the effects of our continued addiction to fossil fuels – directly.
That is the leadership I campaigned for and voted for.
Obama doesn’t “make the case” for anything on his agenda. He and his staff count votes at the beginning of a fight and if they’re not there yet, they compromise straight away. So it was with single-payer health care and so it is on climate change. When your opponents set out to demonize you from day one, that’s a disastrous strategy. Far from using the bully pulpit, it makes you a crash dummy. Sure, I’ll unenthusiastically vote for his reelection, but only because the GOP is insane and/or corrupt to the core.
Obama has turned out to be the worse possible candidate the democrats could have nominated 3 years ago.
Leadership skills- 0
June 22 at 1:02pm
I think you are right. Because of his constant delay on the matter we kept extending hope and for that reason no real action has been taken… we would probably have had more direct action if this had not been the situation.
June 22 at 1:31pm
Regarding “Gore urges the people become single-issue voters, which I [JR] could not agree more with” – Here’s my old suggestion (why is nobody jumping on it?):
Register climatevote.org and build a WWW database of politicians with quotes, their votes and classification (denier, flipflopper, realist). The database URL is cheap to advertise, yet could have quite an impact on voters and the elected.
“So ‘only’ 5% of blame goes to Obama and his team (along with Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives).”
This is fluid because of leverage…for example, if Obama had/steps up to the plate and rallied action on climate then we would have been well on the way down the road now in addressing global warming. And his input would have been 90% of the solution.
Joe, I’m surprised that you continue to be surprised by the media! One of the things pointed out time and again at www.medialens.org is that the one subject that is completely off-topic for the media is… the media.
Their most ‘outspoken’ columnists may make a passing swipe or a reference to ‘inconsistencies’ in press coverage and behaviour but that is about as much as you’ll get.
I’m doing my part: I don’t shave or bathe or flush the toilet (wastes water) but once a month. I don’t use any fans (uses electricity) or air conditioning in the summer. In the winter I just wear more sweaters (layered on top of eachother) around the house instead of turning on the heat. I do drive a car or smoke a bowl once in a while, but I buy carbon offsets for that, (ebay has some good deals on carbon offsets – or you can try Macy’s – they have really good sales occasionally.)
Sorry, all your effort are in vain as long as we keep adding 85 million people to the planet each year as we humans do now.. Consider the fact: The efforts of 40 people who are environmentally conscious, decide to not own a car but take public transportation everywhere and also save on household energy use in every way possible (all the ways you stated plus more) are completely neutralized when just one child is added to the population of a developed nation and lives in a normally prudent (not extreme) manner. That one child over his / her life will eliminate what 40 ultra-conscious environmentalists do during their lives.
Mandatory population control is a necessity in order for us to stop and turn around the effects of global warming… assuming current theories are correct. In other words.. its over unless we reverse population growth with a one child reproductive policy at very least for all developed countries
June 25 at 9:35pm
Some thoughts on reverence for the American Revolution.
If we now perceive a speculative and vested interest fossil/fission elite of especially American based global financialism which is based on centralization of wealth and political power and supported by extraction and conversion of lithosphere materials into contaminating poisons of global scale that are wrecking both international economics and our shared global ecology, it would seem another American Revolution approaches. After a century of subsidies and policies promoting the fuels of war, war for fuels, monopoly and American hegemony for extraction of substances (especially to ignite), we now face the prospect of fossil financial restructuring. Either that, or ecological bankruptcy proceeds to the end, perhaps during one child’s lifetime. Goodbye ocean life, goodbye forests and goodbye food, not to mention seaports.
I might therefore suggest for Nobelist Mr. Gore a study of controlled bankruptcy, for we are headed for either controlled or uncontrolled “restructuring.” Since “markets” are already being restructured, now might be the time for consideration. This reset of economics would replace the four centralized “fuels” of the Horsemen (uranium and lithosphere hydrocarbons which exist in the three phases of Matter) back in the category of (mined) Matter, not Energy. Then we might proceed with conversion from an economy designed around explosive “fuels” of monopoly, war and contamination to one that allows sustenance for all peoples and for the living Earth.
There is revolution in the land Mr. Gore, even as it floods and burns under the immense power of the sun, and the power of human imagination still survives in America.
Thank you for your essay.
The American ‘way’ has been becoming more corrupt as the decades pass.
President Eisenhower warned us over 50 years ago about the growth of the Military industrial Complex. That vision has come true- now on a scale that will not only end this nation- but the worlds biosphere as well.
June 22 at 5:27pm
Time For a Concrete Meta-Critique that Names Names.
My oh my, do we have a problem!
I just read Curtis Brainard’s post (on CJR’s “The Observatory”) titled “Climate Questions for the GOP”, or something along those lines, having to do with the fact that CNN and John King didn’t ask a question about climate change or global warming to the Republican candidates in the recent Republican primary debate.
The problem is that, if you consider what Curtis wrote and didn’t write, his emphases, his closing remarks, and what he would seem to accept as being fine in the future, Curtis himself doesn’t seem to get it! In other words, the person who supposedly assesses and covers the media’s treatment of science — for the Columbia Journalism Review, no less — doesn’t seem to “get” the problem with what happened (and didn’t happen) at the recent debate, and (by extension) with what is and isn’t happening in the news media.
(Read Curtis’s recent post and consider the issue yourself. If you don’t see the problem with his post, read my short response to it, in the Comments section underneath his post — both at “The Observatory”.)
So: What do we do if it’s not only the case that most reporters (and media outlets) don’t seem to “get it”, but (also) if even the professionals who are at organizations that are supposed to monitor, assess, and help improve the media don’t get it themselves? This is another of those critical topics (and specific incidents) that, apparently, Joe/CP should cover if anyone is going to cover it well.
Over at “The Observatory”, I’ve posted a comment that critiques Curtis’s treatment of the matter, and I’ve asked for a dialogue/debate there, or at least for a clarification and correction on Curtis’s part.
IRONIC from Al Gore to criticize anyone much less Obama when he didn’t muster 1 ball to fight Bush in 2000!
Amen. The ozone man inhaled.
June 22 at 2:20pm
And, by the way, countless mainstream women’s magazines, with enormous readership and huge influence–among them, O, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Whole Living–have had a huge impact on consumer choices. They may not be on your radar, if you aren’t their target audience, but don’t count them out for impact. Just saying–things may not be so hopeless in media land.
This is not Rolling Stone’s first major piece on the climate impasse. They’ve been terrific. I keep hoping that younger people will become engaged, radicalized; they’re going to be alive to see if we reach a tipping point.
June 22 at 5:17pm
I’m glad that someone that the media pays attention to is speaking out. Sure the media will spin it for the entertainment effect and ignore criticism, but it has been obvious for a long time that President Obama does not like to use the bully pulpit to persuade the public. Many legislators who supported the now dead climate bill have also abandoned the issue. You could argue that they are waiting for Obama to lead the way…but then we have Senator Bernie Sanders who will not stop talking about Wall Street reform and job creation in spite of what Obama does not do. My impression now is that, as with gay marriage, Obama would rather be a follower or a get-out-of-the-way kind of guy…definitely not a leader.
Blistering attack on not only the Obama Admin’s climate policy, but the media’s abdication of any responsibility. A must read.
So, Al Gore = brain bashed professional wrestler who the press directs as he spews bloody drool at the screaming faithful–It’s real! It’s real! See me bleed! I bleed green for you–it’s reeeeeel! (At a theatre near you!)
June 23 at 4:44am
I would say the media has more than 30% blame. I would give them 70% and the deniers and such 20%. It is *because* of the media that the deniers have a platform to misinform, such as the false balance in most stories, relying on non experts, etc.
Well said Matthew. I agree that the media really deserve ALL of the blame for this. Blaming the deniers and misinformers is like blaming a virus for killing someone.
June 22 at 4:31pm
Are we still trying to distribute the blame? Why can’t we just accept that there are a LARGE number of uneducated (or miseducated), what we would call ‘dumb’ people, who simply don’t have the problem solving ability or intellect to wrap their minds around the issue of climate change and its solutions? Our educational and capitalist system has failed miserably, so much so that most modern human beings feel no need to take care (or no need of urgency) of their own habitat, their own planet! How can modern society so fully remove and isolate us from nature and our fellow humans? With decades and reform we could fix this problem, but there is a critical inertia of stupidity in the American public’s view of climate change and we simply don’t have the time to move the public to the other side of the spectrum (the side of WWII-scale effort to prepare for adaptation and stabilization).
June 24 at 2:08pm
At a time when the oceans are accumulating heat at the rate of five Hiroshima bombs per second, are conspiracy theorists the people whom a nation should entrust with the future of our children?
Al Gore slams Obama in Rolling Stone over his absolute silence on Climate Disruption.. but it comes a little late in the game.
Obama is in the position to act on climate change more swiftly.
We need a policy to retire ALL FORMS OF CARBON FUELS as soon as possible. There are four states burning today, one or two of them setting new records, spewing Carbon-Dioxide gas as a burn product, which is part of the self-acceleration mechanism of Global Warming. Climate change dehydrates continental interiors, which dessicates interior air, which contributes to wildfires, which adds to the speed of Global Warming.
Methane gas (Natural Gas) is not cleaner, as unburned molecules regularly go out the flue. Each molecule of methane in the upper atmosphere destroys ozone thereby producing 25 times the global warming effect of one molecule of CO2. All the methane which does burn becomes CO2.
We have seven times more fossil fuels needed to kill the Earth. We are not running out of fuels — we are running out of environment which supports higher life.
The rooftops of American homes (100 million family residences x 2000 sq.ft. average floorplan) is 10% more than enough space to generate all the electrical production required presently to power the national grid. This is assuming low-efficiency 12 watts per sq.ft. polysilicon cheap photovoltaic panels with zero technical breakthroughs required.
A smartgrid with plug-in BEV vehicles (like the Chevy Volt) will store 4 times the daily PV production, buying and selling electrons than is needed daily by America by the power grid. Hydrogen fuel cells of a 60 kW car will power 60 homes for every hour that it has fuel.
Moving electrons is expensive — it costs $1 megabuck per mile for transmission lines for the power grid, but trucks can move PV silicon wafers from the windfields in the Dakotas to where the power is needed very economically. Turning wind into PV silicon makes more sense than pumping electrons. There’s no shortage of wind or PV in that scenario, and no shortage of storage with 100,000,000 American cars and light trucks storing 20 kW each.
Go Al! Telling truth to power is great, but we still haven;t been able to out-maneuver the merchants of poison. Strategic plans, tactics are needed.
I agree with much of what Al Gore expressed in his article. However, I don’t believe that this kind of article is very helpful at this time.
Why not? Is there an article of comparable length that would be more helpful?
June 23 at 4:43am
…and change never arrived…
Al Gore’s Critique Sparks Debate Over Obama’s Record on Global Warming.
DANIEL WEISS: Increased emissions are leading to global warming.
And we have seen just the story that was on right before here, the flooding in Minot in North Dakota. It’s the exact kind of effects that scientists told us for years we were going to see. And now we have seen extreme weather in 2011 and 2010 that is record-breaking.
GWEN IFILL: Glenn Hurowitz, let’s — you’re never going agree on this point about this, but let me ask you this question, ask it this way, which is, how much of this — whether you believe it should — there should be government action or not, how much is the public clamoring to change? How much can they stomach, especially at a time of economic stress?
GLENN HUROWITZ: Well, I think the public needs it. And they’re…
GWEN IFILL: Well, we need — we also need broccoli, but we don’t all like it.
GLENN HUROWITZ: Right. That’s true.
But I think what Vice President Gore was saying in the article was that it’s hard for just the environmental community to stand up against entire Republican Party, against the fossil fuel lobby, with all their money, that there needs to be leadership the White House.
Historically, that’s how we have made environmental progress to pass the Clean Air Act, to pass the Clean Water Act, to protect public lands and national parks. And without that kind of leadership, we are not going to get the agenda that we need.
And in terms of just day-to-day putting bread on the table, like I said, revitalizing the economy means investing in clean energy. It means investing in ecological restoration.
And in order to do that, we’re going to need leadership from the White House. That’s how it’s been accomplished in the past. And I hope President Obama realizes that we’re in a new economic paradigm, where the country that wins the future is going to be the country that wins the race…
GWEN IFILL: Is that realistic, Daniel Weiss?
DANIEL WEISS: Absolutely. And that’s exactly what President Obama has not only been saying, but, more importantly, has been doing. In addition…
GWEN IFILL: As much as he should?
DANIEL WEISS: As much as he has been able to accomplish with — Congress has blocked him because of a wall on opposition from Republican senators.
GWEN IFILL: That’s why I asked whether this is realistic.
DANIEL WEISS: It is. But, remember, also, politics is the art of the possible.
Now, there was just a survey released by Yale University a couple weeks ago that found overwhelming majority of Americans, including a small plurality of Republicans, all support action to reduce carbon pollution that causes global warming.
So, it’s not a question of the public. It’s a question of, you have a political party, the Republicans, is the only major political party in any Western democracy that is denying climate science. That wasn’t true four years ago or three years ago. In fact, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty all did ads saying, we must reduce global warming. And now they’re all appealing to their hard right of their party.
June 22 at 9:23pm
GWEN IFILL: Glenn Hurowitz, what would you like to see the president…
GLENN HUROWITZ: I think the number-one thing he has to do is enforce the laws that already exist and use his tremendous administrative power to implement protections against mercury, against soot, smog, and especially carbon pollution.
He has the power to do it. He can do it. He should do it as fast as possible, so we can clean up the air, protect people’s health, and save the planet.
GWEN IFILL: Realistically, what would you like to see the president do?
DANIEL WEISS: All of the things that Glenn said, which will — will create jobs, according to studies by universities.
In addition, issue fuel economy standards, so cars get 60 miles per gallon by 2025. That will create jobs, save millions of barrels of oil. In addition, set a new ozone smog standard that will protect public health, save kids from having asthma attacks during the summer.
June 22 at 9:24pm
The U.S. should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.
All agencies involved with climate science, treaty negotiations, energy research, economic policy, and national security should participate in an interagency process to develop a deliberate policy to reduce future risk to national security from climate change.
Actions fall into two main categories: mitigating climate change to the extent possible by setting targets for long-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to those effects that cannot be mitigated. Since this is a global problem, it requires a global solution with multiple relevant instruments of government contributing.
Great Headline Joe, and very important points Gore brought up.
Nutshell: Basically the skeptics are conspiracy theorists without any kind of legitimate facts covered by the scientific process and which is a requirement in order to assess the problem in the first place.
The media needs to treat the skeptics as what they are. The media just needs to uncover the facts, basically what Peter Sinclair does on his video blog http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610.
Al Gore has had the right idea since his book, “Earth in the Balance”, was published years ago: make clean and sustainable energy the central organizing principle of government.
He has stayed on point and, at this rate, it is not impossible that he could achieve the presidency at some future date. Who is better qualified?
Worth the read: “The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America… What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.” Al Gore.
America’s lap dog media. Mathematician: 2 + 2 = 4 Right wing media – 2 + 2 = 3 Lap Dog Media to American Science challenged Public 2 + 2 = 3.5 the portrayed correct and reinforced answer — (oh (hand wringing) but we just don’t know?
Al Gore needs to work with FreePress.net to really go after the corporate media!
Not sure why this surprises ANYONE. Gore ‘slamming’ Obama sells page views and hard copies; Gore highlighting the media’s complicity in misinformation makes the media uncomfortable, so they bury that issue, using lack of public interest as their rationale. It’s OK – it’s already making the rounds on the web via Facebook and commentary sites, so the “official” media blackout will be irrelevant soon.