Gore: America in ‘Category 5’ Denial on Global Warming
Posted on May 25, 2006
Al Gore, in an interview with The Nation, says that no meaningful change will happen on the global warming front until the public starts demanding it of their leaders. And right now, the people have other things on their minds.
In the middle of the 2000 presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore was worried. He was trailing George W. Bush in the polls, and he was looking to define his candidacy in a big way. His idea was to deliver a major speech on global warming. There was probably no other issue he knew as well and felt as deeply about. As a Harvard undergraduate he had studied with Roger Revelle, one of the first people in the world to monitor carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and to predict that the increasing human-produced emissions would lead to disruptive climate change. After being elected to Congress in 1976, Gore had held the first Congressional hearings on global warming. And in 1992 he had written Earth in the Balance, a passionate, fact-flooded bestseller that detailed the dangers of global warming. “We must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization,” he proclaimed in that book. So a speech in which he would declare global warming the top priority of a Gore presidency would be in sync with his past and his soul. It would be highly authentic.
But his campaign consultants were not keen on turning global warming into the organizing principle of Gore’s presidential bid. As political journalist Joe Klein points out in his recent book, Politics Lost, their advice to Gore was simple: Don’t do it. Global warming did not poll as a top concern for voters, and anyone who cared about it was already with him.
Gore proceeded with the speech. But his staffers did nothing to highlight it, and the address barely registered. Gore’s concern for this serious matter was deemed inconvenient by the people he’d hired to win him the election. What he cared about most was marginalized by his own campaign—and he didn’t protest.
Courtesy Paramount Classics
Al Gore works on the documentary about his campaign against global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth.”