After 30 Years, Al Gore Still Advocates A Carbon Tax

Gore Derangement Syndrome Lives — But Not Here

The inimitable Dave Roberts of Grist had a good interview with Al Gore this month. The Climate Reality founder discusses “carbon taxes, natural gas, and the ‘morally wrong’ Keystone pipeline.”

Since a carbon price is the sine qua non of reality-based climate policy, and Gore has been way, way ahead of the curve, I’ll excerpt that portion. At the end, I’ll also comment on Grist’s comment policy and Gore Derangement Syndrome.

Q. Did you hear [White House press secretary] Jay Carney this morning?

A. No, God help us, what’d he say?

Q. He said, “We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one.”

A. I don’t think that comes as a big surprise to anyone. Those of us that hold out some hope that we will find a way to get a price on carbon, and know there are multiple ways to do it, have felt that the convergence of the fiscal cliff and the climate cliff could produce some surprising results. And there have been some private comments by some Republicans to that effect. But certainly that’s something you wouldn’t wanna bet money on in Vegas.

Q. What do you think of this idea of a revenue-neutral carbon tax?

A. I have proposed a revenue-neutral carbon tax for a long time, 30 years. I proposed it in my first book, Earth in the Balance.

I supported cap-and-trade because a lot of folks felt that it offered the opportunity for bipartisan consensus. And by the way, it may yet gain altitude globally — China, as you know, is implementing it in five provinces and two cities. They have indicated that they intend to use these pilots as a model for the nationwide program. Many are skeptical, but they often do follow through with what they say they’re going to do. And [cap-and-trade] just started in California yesterday. Australia is now linking theirs to the E.U. system. South Korea’s moving, British Columbia, Quebec — there are a lot of parallel developments that could converge, particularly if China does follow through. It’s premature to write [cap-and-trade] off, even thought it’s has been demonized and so many people are afraid to talk about it.

But from the very beginning, I preferred a carbon tax. (And by the way, I’d be in favor of both; I don’t think they’re inconsistent at all.) And yet, the political environment in the U.S. has not changed to the point where it’s something you’d wanna bet on. But look, we’ve got to solve this. It’s an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, and something’s gotta give. I have enough faith in humanity to believe, against a lot of evidence, that we’re going to solve this.

Q. Does this idea of a carbon/income tax swap make you nervous? The income tax is one of the only places we have progressivity in the U.S. tax code.

A. I have not proposed doing it on the income tax, I have proposed doing it on the payroll tax. I am also friendly to the notion of a rebate scheme, though I doubt they’ll do that. It needs to be progressive — the rising inequality in the country is too serious to run the risk of worsening that.

Q.Do you worry that you getting out in front of this might brand it in a certain way —

A. Well, they come after anybody who speaks up in favor of doing something on climate. It’s not going to surprise any of them that I’m in favor of it. I’ve said it on practically a daily basis for years and years.

Gore’s last answer is dead on. The anti-science crowd demonizes all climate hawks. That is hardly a reason for silence by any hawk on any aspect of climate science, solutions, or policy — quite the reverse. Certainly the public opinion data makes clear that Nobel laureate did not polarize the climate debate — and every leading social scientists in the field I’ve spoken to agrees (see “Public Opinion Study Debunks Claim Al Gore Polarized the Climate Debate“).

Despite the fact that the science continues to support a worse-case analysis than the one Gore advanced in An Inconvenient Truth, the vitriol against him continues to this day, so much so it has its own label “Gore Derangement Syndrome.”

And if you want to see an epidemic of GDS, just go to the comments section of the Grist interview — but put on your head vise first. That may be the best argument I’ve seen in a while for moderating comments, which the overwhelming majority of blogs do. I’m a huge fan of Grist’s — they reprint Climate Progress pieces and we reprint theirs — but I’d urge them to at least put an intern on that job. What really is the point of a comments section if it can be overwhelmed by those spreading disinformation and/or Gore Derangement Syndrome?

47 Responses to After 30 Years, Al Gore Still Advocates A Carbon Tax

  1. Dan Ives says:

    I agree with you, Joe, that there are good reasons for moderating comments. But I feel that the moderation here goes too far and stifles a lot of meaningful criticism and dissent. What’s the point of having a comment section full of approving comments? If you want the comments to produce a healthy dialogue, I believe you need to loosen your rules a bit and be better about engaging critics. Just my opinion.

  2. Zach says:

    Nice comment on the comments section. I can’t believe that so many sites let their comments area get overrun by disinformers. It’s like selling fruits & vegetables and letting anyone come along and slop dog poop on top.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Clinton made the Right crazy because they thought he was an apostate- easy talking Southern guys are usually on their team. They hate Obama because he remains calm and conciliatory in the face of their redfaced rage.

    Right wing hatred of Gore takes it to another level, though. There is something about a man who is both rational and passionate that sends them into blubbering la la land. It’s quite a sight to behold, and does not lead to optimism about the awakening of our Red state body politic.

  4. Joe Romm says:

    I actually have loosened up and now moderate under 10% of non-spam comments — mostly those with things like GDS of falsehoods. It is the case that the disinformers don’t come here to comment much. I generally publish critical comments, as long as they aren’t ad hom or outright false.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    Al Gore is a true Hero and Patriot, because his goal is to save the land we call our home.

  6. Tom says:

    I commented on a recent GSHP article (Chris Williamson, HeatSprings) -with respectful, factual information that pointed out some deficiencies with GSHP – it was moderated in (approved) – then it was moderated out (disappeared).

    I like the content of this blog, but am frustrated that constructive comments are nuked, with no explanation.

  7. Joe Romm says:

    I have no idea why it popped into the spam folder, but I just pulled it out. Sorry. The spam filter is overzealous sometimes.

  8. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    “We are not red states and blue states, but the United States.” ~POTUS
    An Obama-ism with which I disagree. We are like two countries, and will remain so until some time after the MSM is fixed and the Republican Party departs from the insane asylum.

  9. Tom says:

    Thank you. I was feeling persecuted. In truth I was going to boycott this site after my comment was nuked AND after my request for an explanation was ignored.

    But the content is too good to not read!

    I think I have things to contribute via comments as well.

  10. Joe Romm says:

    Thanks. Your comments are welcome.

    Just email us if a comment doesn’t appear. The spam filter acts up from time to time. I confess sometimes I forget to check the comments for several hours at a time! I’ll work to improve that.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Dan, the absence of denialist trolls is a God-send. All MSM blogs that I know of are farragoes of idiocy and mendacity. It is absolutely plain that the powers-that-be prefer it that way. Although there is a hideous fascination in seeing, over and over again, just what depths the Right can sink to, after a while it is dispiriting, lowering one’s estimation of humanity, even though we know that the denialist buffoons are, at last, losing the fight for the public’s opinion.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s no accident. The Rightwing MSM preferences Rightists and censors the rest on all subjects, out of ideological zealotry. Even the supposedly ‘liberal’ ‘The Guardian’ has allowed its CiF blogs to become ludicrous and detestable.

  13. Prospace Environmentalist says:

    I have *two* big ifs –
    if the Carbon tax is passed and
    if the technology is proven,
    can we use the funds from carbon tax to build a lot of these?

    Oh, and one more thing… here’s this Climate Change meme going on in G+, check it out!!!

  14. Bob Lang says:

    “Obama is probably the first person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize largely for the simple achievement of not having been the guy who had the job before him.”

    (Quote from David Rothkopf, CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy Magazine and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

  15. Ozonator says:

    Though toiling like a Welsh “coal” miner, this is the 1st VP Al Gore article that I have seen in 10 years. I have primarily seen Mr. Gore defined in cartoons, 30 Rock, and in deniers’ jokes which serve as the gatekeepers of who can be in the club of wealth in this country.

  16. Media (ex; newspapers and magazines) have always heavily moderated their reader comments, usually termed letters-to-the-editor. And these heavily moderated sections have always been popular things to read because of that very fact.

    I appreciate that old-school attitude and would rather have some of my comments tossed than have to read the mindless message-bot, talking point spew of the un-moderated sites.

    Oh, yeah…and Gore is total hero. He will be remembered by history as far more “presidential” than the man the supreme court appointed instead.

  17. I’m with Mulga on this. I follow some blogs like Dot Earth where a ridiculous amount of electronic “ink” —and readers’ time— is wasted in the comment section by various denialists repeating the same inanities over and over.

    “The planet isn’t warming.” “Ice growth in the Antarctic balances Ice loss the Arctic.” “Global warming was invented by climate scientists so they could get research grants.” The crap they make up is endless.

    Here on CP I feel like I can engage in dialogues with others who know quite a bit about the climate picture and can share information, ideas and strategies, not inanities and insults.

  18. Spike says:

    I agree – I come here to read about the science and politics and read intelligent comments by people who understand reality. Newspapers’ comments sections on climate articles (and Grist’s apparently!) attract the denialists like a pack of hyenas to a carcass, which means you have to wade through loads of inane drivel and often end up missing the gems.

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thanks. It is frustrating when your not immoderate comment languishes in ‘moderation’ for 24-48 hours, by which time the caravan has moved on, ME

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I know that Gore would have been a less inspiring President that one imagines, because he would have had to deal with the ‘Secret Team’ who really run the USA and the planet and he’s steeped enough in the DC culture to know what really happened to the Kennedys, but he still impresses. To see an politician who appears lucid, intelligent, knowledgeable and quite properly concerned over ecological disaster these days is a rare sight indeed. A veritable unicorn. He really should have a go in 2016, for a third party if necessary.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Add the word ‘global’.

  22. prokaryotes says:

    It has begun Climate Change is here and soon it will be called Climate Chaos!

  23. Will Fox says:

    I don’t normally agree with censorship. But I will make an exception for Climate Progress. This place feels like a haven from all the insanity, ignorance and BS out there. It’s such a breath of fresh air. I agree with Mulga – keep the trolls/deniers out of here. Some constructive criticism is fine, of course, but outright denial of global warming has no place here.

  24. wili says:

    See david roberts excellent video:

  25. Mark E says:

    Thanks god! I just read at Time that AGW is a problem for tomorrow

    (Sad that Time still believes this horsepuckey)

  26. Mark E says:

    Those gizmos depend on storing carbon in rock formations, also known as carbon sequestration. To work, the stuff has to stay there not just today, not just next week, but forever.

    Good News! We already have a proven technology that does this. It is called

    Also known as: do not dig coal, do not frack gas, do not drill oil.

  27. wili says:

    Gore and Carter should go down in history (if there is any future to write it) as the great wise men whose planet-saving messages were shut down by the ignorant and avaricious (and by some other unrelated circumstances, in Carter’s case).

    They were ready to lead. It was Americans, swayed by lie-machines of the death-fuel industries, who failed to follow, a failure our children will pay for dearly.

  28. Mark E says:

    Its my fault – clogging up the filters like so many jellyfish at the power plants freshwater intake.

    Seriously, I would be interested in seeing a
    Meet-The-Team post or vid. Readers probably have no idea just how much work goes into producing this excellent resource.

  29. Mark E says:

    When I said
    (Sad that Time still believes this horsepuckey)
    I was not very clear. I meant it is sad they apparently think it is not a problem that is already with us here today.

  30. Lionel A says:

    Thanks Joe for that.

    I didn’t like to waste your valuable time over an odd comment of mine which gets stuck in moderation, can this be due to some embedded links?

    I have a comment stuck here and would like to know if my idea expressed there has any legs.

    I value this blog for the mix of science and policy that is found here, the comments section always provides much food for thought with excellent links to more material which I can then pass around to increase readership.

    Thanks for all you hard work, and courage.

  31. Joe Romm says:

    Too many links puts a comment in moderation.

  32. Nell says:

    Could climate change due to burning fossil fuels be the reason for the Great Silence?

  33. Dan Ives says:

    I agree with Mulga and the responses above. The absence of denier comments is a good thing about this site. But that’s not what I meant by “meaningful criticism and dissent.” Especially on posts relating to politics, I think the comments on this site often suffer from a group-think mentality, and comments that challenge that political consensus are often removed by moderation, which I think is damaging to everyone. I am glad to hear Joe say he’s loosened his rules in that regard.

  34. Dan Ives says:

    That is good to hear, Joe. Is your policy published somewhere so we can all better understand what the limits are?

  35. Joan Savage says:

    In my experience posting here, Joe has accepted every one of my comments that could be called criticism, and I see well-founded counterpoint views from others as well.

    The Climate Progress comment thread does us a great service by engaging us in constructive exercise, while not getting us stuck in the verbal equivalent of infantry-mud! Thanks to Joe!

  36. Joan Savage says:

    Some of mine have hung fire for 24 to 48 hours, like ME’s experience.

    Reworking a comment using Preview seems to kick up the likelihood of getting caught in the spam filter, but that might just be coincidence.

  37. M Tucker says:

    My comments have not even shown up on this site for months. Not even in moderation. I have sent emails but none have ever been responded to. I still come here to read the articles but I now spend much less time at it.

  38. M Tucker says:

    Wow, now I’m getting encouraged. That is the frist time since perhaps last spring that a comment of mine has appeared on this site. Sure it is in moderation but it is showing up. I’m am a proud climate alarmist and my only fault is I am sometimes too politically controversial for some. I will try to keep it civil.

  39. Joe Romm says:

    I think you were getting sucked into the spam folder.

  40. wili says:

    M Tucker, I seem to have been sucked into the same spam-folder black hole for the last few months. Good to see you back, and to be back myself.

  41. Mark Shapiro says:

    Blog moderation is NOT censorship. Joe is not the government. People are as free to speak as ever.

    But this is Joe’s house.

    I approve of the moderation here, even though I’ve been blocked a couple times!

  42. Joe Romm says:

    Indeed. No one has a “right” to comment. They can launch their own blog if they want to. Very few blogs are completely unmoderated these days.

  43. accidentalfision says:

    It seems that very few people remember Jimmie
    Carter’s telling of truth to the American people four months after his inauguration. In April of 1977 he gave what has come to be known as the “moral equivalent of war speech” in which he said every effort must be made to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

    It was a brave thing to do and cost him any chance at re-election. Americans (I wish I could be more proud of my countrymen but we are an ignorant nation) chose to replace Carter with an good-looking actor who told them not to worry, turn up their thermostats, and buy a bigger car because, “It’s morning in America!”

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Many of the Roads to Perdition begin with Ronald Reagan, that ‘hero’ of the deranged Right.