Al Gore Blasts Obama, Media for Dropping the Ball on Climate


Photo: Davos Economic Forum via Flickr/CC BY

Al Gore is typically considered the face of climate advocacy. An instantly-recognizable establishment figure, the former Vice President usually works extremely hard to put forth an optimistic, cooperative vision for making progress on the climate issue. But it appears he's finally nearing the end of his rope, as I saw evidence of in his talk at Games for Change this year. He's frustrated beyond belief, and he's openly criticizing Obama and the media for their myriad shortcomings on climate. With a media that's unable (or unwilling) to present the facts about climate in an adequate fashion. With a president who's unable (or unwilling) to make a case for fighting climate change to the American people.

And so, he finally lets rip with the criticism -- all of which are eminently valid -- in a comprehensive, 7,000-word article in the latest Rolling Stone magazine that pulls few punches. For instance, Gore has long been extremely supportive of the president, and has worked and campaigned on his behalf. But he's disappointed, to say the least:

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, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that "drill, baby, drill" is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.
He also dissects at length the communication problem that lies at the heart of understanding the climate crisis, and saves his sharpest barbs for scientists who shill for the fossil fuel companies and the industry interests themselves.

Anyone who's followed climate closely over the last couple years will find themselves nodding along (even when he wanders into well-trod lamenting-the-decline-of-good-journalism territory for a page or two). Yet the mere publication of this piece is a distressing development in many ways: the man who brought the issue onto the public stage with a then-uncharacteristic burst of bravado and confidence, penning equally uncharacteristic criticisms of some of his closest allies.

But it has indeed come to this -- as a nation, we're no closer to addressing climate change than we were three years ago. In many ways, we're even further away. And Barack Obama deserves a slice of the blame for not doing more, fighting harder. It was probably a tough call for Gore to make, penning those words. But those words are pretty right on.

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