Al Gore: Climate Skeptics Argue Birther-Style
Posted by Ken Carman for LTS readers
Written by Alex Guillen for Politico.com
Former Vice President Al Gore on Sunday night compared climate skeptics with birthers, saying money has allowed the line between fact and fiction to blur.
“There is now a tendency in our country to struggle over what is a fact and what is not,” Gore said at the opening of a conference on Jewish social justice in Washington.
Gore said a fundamental shift from a marketplace-like exchange of ideas to a system wherein money buys access to airwaves has disenfranchised everyday Americans from having their ideas heard.
“It hurts our country to have such a sharp partisan divide over the basic facts,” he said.
Gore compared doubters of climate change science with the so-called birthers, whose movement he said gained momentum when “questions of fact became questions of power.”
“We just had the object lesson with the birthplace of our president,” he said to laughter. “The chuckles here are hard won because it is still an example of a question of fact being turned into a question of power.”
Tailoring his stump environmental speech to the audience, Gore said that climate change is at a fundamental level a moral issue, aligning it with other generally progressive causes.
He also identified a litany of recent natural disasters — including floods in Pakistan and Australia and widespread wildfires in Russia — as biblical curses forewarned in Deuteronomy.
“The choices that we make now have consequences, and among those consequences there will be blessings and curses,” he said. “The scientific community has for many decades now, with increasing certainty and increasing fervor, presented to us the most accurate calculation of what these consequences would be were we not to make the right moral choices with respect to global warming. And when these scientists spell out what can be expected from a failure to act in this generation, those consequences sometimes sound like curses.”
During his speech, Gore walked a fine line when it came to faith, quoting scientific data and public opinion polls but also citing Scripture and sharing nuggets about his Baptist upbringing. The case in point came as he lightly criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who last month suggested state residents pray for rain to combat wildfires and persistent drought.
“The governor called for prayer. And I prayed. But as was said already, prayer should involve commitment. There is an old African proverb: ‘When you pray, move your feet.’ We are called upon to make choices, today.”
Gore also appeared to take a small swipe at President Barack Obama, who has called for reducing foreign oil imports by one-third.
“But honestly, how long has it been since presidents — of both political parties — have made these declarations, ‘We’re going to be independent of foreign oil, and we’re going to do this and do that,’ and their remedies don’t match the pledges, because the only way to really deal with it, as I said, is with solar and wind and geothermal and efficiency and a remaking of our energy system along renewable lines.”
This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 9:36 a.m. on May 2, 2011.