We haven't heard much from Al Gore in the year since his marriage broke down and he was accused of doing inappropriate things with a hotel masseuse. But he's thrusting himself back into the spotlight today with a long piece on climate change for Rolling Stone. The 7,000-word essay details the overwhelming evidence that anthropomorphic climate change is real and shames the various institutions Congress, the media that have failed miserably in their responsibility to take it seriously. The part that will get all the attention, though, is what Gore says about President Obama.
But in spite of these and other achievements, 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 ....
[W]ithout 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.
Gore isn't completely disillusioned with Obama. He acknowledges the many mitigating emergencies and political obstacles with which Obama has had to contend, and praises him for pushing renewable energy in the stimulus package, helping cap-and-trade through the House, raising automobile-efficiency standards, and calling for oil subsidies to be repealed, among other things. Taken together, in context, his criticism of Obama is more disappointed than scathing. But Gore expects that "opponents of the president will excerpt the criticism and strip it of context." And he's right. Hell, we like Obama, and look what we did with the title of this blog post.
Climate of Denial [Rolling Stone]