Environment Forum

Who hates Al Gore?

Whenever Al Gore raises the bull’s-eye of global warming, darts start to fly — aimed at him.

Google the phrase “I hate Al Gore” and 42,000 entries appear, including a Facebook page called “Telling Al Gore he’s full of crap” that has 17,000 fans.

Critics of the former vice president and Nobel laureate point to his multiple homes and use of a private jet as hard-fast hypocrisy, and his investments in clean technology as a conflict of interest. Add to that the specter of an old misquote from a CNN interview that won’t go away, about “inventing the Internet.”

“If you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don’t know me,” he told a House Energy and Commerce subcomittee in April 2009. “Do you think there’s something wrong with being active in business in this country? I am proud of it.”

So tonight, when Gore’s 24-hour multi-media presentation “24 Hours of Reality” hits screens around the world, viewers can watch for how the Oscar-winning environmentalist attempts to engage his most vocal critics – the ones who show up at speaking events with placards calling for him to debate climate science with them.

A winter’s tale of climate skepticism

USA/Another winter storm is brewing in Middle America. So what else is new?

It’s been one spate of severe weather after another even before 2011 began. And you would expect those skeptical of climate change to capitalize on the cold snap by questioning whether human-spurred global warming is a real deal.

Strangely enough, climate skeptics appear to be less vocal than they were last year, when Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma built an igloo as a blizzard blew through Washington DC, and dubbed it “Al Gore’s new home.” If it’s so cold, the argument went, how can there be global warming?

Gore himself offered an answer last week, in a blog post meant to respond to just such a question from Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

from Tales from the Trail:

Lockbox may be making a political comeback

Republicans may be coming around to former Vice President Al Gore's way of thinking. Not on climate change, but on the "lockbox."

OIL-SPILL/During his failed 2000 presidential bid, Gore talked about setting aside Social Security tax surpluses and putting them in a kind of  "lockbox"  to keep them off limits for other government spending and tax cuts. NBC's "Saturday Night Live" comedy show made great fun of the Democrat's comment.

Now Senate Republicans have revived the idea.

Not for Social Security, but for the oil spill clean up fund. Democrats are proposing to increase the oil spill clean up fund tax to 41 cents a barrel from 8 cents a barrel. The increase is part of a bill being considered by the Senate to help the long-term unemployed, offer relief to cash-strapped states and extend some expired business tax breaks.

from Tales from the Trail:

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it's cold in Washington. It's really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It's hard to recall that long-ago moment -- what was it, six days ago? -- when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it's winter doesn't mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle'," Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There's a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called "Short term cooling on a warming planet." The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

from Mario Di Simine:

Copenhagen Climate Conference: Who is right?

CANADA/Ask anyone about climate change and you likely will get the kind of emotional response not seen since George W Bush left office. People on both sides of the debate – from politicians and scientists to your regular Joe on the street – are often adamantly in one camp or the other, with little wriggle room in between.

The majority of the camp believes that Mother Nature is indeed terribly sick, and that humankind is the virus that caused the disease. The symptoms are a climate that is warming to such a degree we are faced with certain calamity if we don’t do something about it.

Sounds alarming, doesn’t it?

On the other side, are the folks who say the climate is not warming at all or that, if it is, it is a natural phenomenon that will correct itself. In other words, Mother Nature can heal herself, if she’s even sick. To spend billions trying to do what Earth can do itself is folly, pure and simple, and will lead to economic ruin for many developing nations.

Green Business round-up

earth2tech: Smart Grid Stimulus Spending Capped Too Low

With more than $4 billion in stimulus funds allocated to the smart grid, utilities argue that the cap on spending for any one smart grid project is too low.

WSJ Environmental Capital: Al Gore: Passing the Climate Bill a ‘Moral Imperative’

Al Gore came back to Congress today to warn about the perils of climate change and throw his weight behind draft energy and climate legislation.

Al Gore’s new book: will you read it?

 When I attended a talk by Al Gore about global warming in Oslo in March 2007, I noticed that one of the people clapping loudest — about two rows in front of me — was the head of the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ole Danbolt Mjoes also joined in a minute-long standing ovation for the former U.S. vice president. “A very important message,” was all Mjoes would tell me of Gore’s speech afterwards when I went up and asked him if Gore had a chance of winning.

Gore of course went on to share the prize in December with the U.N. Climate Panel. The photo above shows Mjoes (left), handing the award to Gore in Oslo City Hall.

Sarah Palin makes few friends among U.N. climate experts

Sarah Palin in her vice-presidential debate against Joe Biden U.S. Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is making few friends among U.N. climate experts with her view that natural swings, along with human activities, may explain global warming.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Climate Panel, says that evidence is mounting that human activities are the main cause of warming. The panel reported last year that it was at least 90 percent certain that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, were heating the planet.

He predicted in a telephone interview that Palin’s influence would be limited on climate change if Republican John McCain won the presidency.

Gore vs. Pickens: who’s got the right plan?

gore.jpgWhen Al Gore challenged the U.S. to produce all of its electricity from renewable sources in 10 years, his aggressive plan to combat climate change was pitted against another recently-unveiled proposal, from Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

 Gore, a former Democratic vice president and Nobel Prize-winning crusader on climate change, announced his plan last week and has since promoted it on U.S. television. Expected to cost between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion,  Gore advocates investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy, energy efficiency and a national power grid. He also wants to retain energy production from nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, and invest in technology to store and capture carbon dioxide from coal and gas.

Inevitably, though, Gore’s plan has been compared to the so-called “Pickens Plan,” which calls for a massive switch to natural gas as a transportation fuel and a dramatic increase in wind power (Pickens, a legendary oil man, is currently spending $10 billion to build the world’s biggest wind farm — a project he expects will be a big moneymaker). Pickens says his $300 billion plan will reduce the amount of imported oil by more than a third in the next decade.

Is lights off campaign a turn-off?

A workman holds onto a 32 metre balloon in the shape of a light bulb on Sydney Harbour to promote the Earth Hour event March 19, 2008. Earth Hour is to be held at 8pm on March 29 where the public and business worldwide are encouraged to switch off their lights to join the fight against climate change. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas (AUSTRALIA)Millions of people around the world are set to turn off lights and electrical appliances at 8 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 29, to highlight the problem of global warming.

Landmarks from the Sydney Opera House to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco  plan to turn off their lights for the event, pioneered by Australia last year.

Organisers of “Earth Hour” say the idea is to make people aware of the links between global warming and electricity, which is usually generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil which emit greenhouse gases. They say 24 large cities around the world are taking part.  Last year 2.2 million Sydney residents switched off the lights.