Al Gore and the Search for the Climate Change Swing Vote


When an Inconvenient Truth hit the big screen in 2006, it seemed to mark an inflection point in our posture towards the impact of human activity on the climate (‘OK…we have a problem, but we can solve this!’)

But these days, it feels more like 2006 was the ecological version of the Prague Spring — with skeptics now rolling over climate science like the Soviet tanks snuffing out the Czech’s democratic reforms of 1968. Or maybe it’s more like comparing the hope-filled Obama campaign of 2008 to the reality of Washington, circa 2011.

On Wednesday, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project started another run at winning hearts and minds, with a 24 hour convince-a-thon. The Mission of the organization is to “bring the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engage the public in conversation about how to solve it.”  24 Hours of Reality is described as “a worldwide event consisting of a new multimedia presentation created by Al Gore and delivered once per hour for 24 hours, representing every time zone around the globe.”  Gore’s position is that “The deniers may have millions of dollars to spend, but we have a powerful advantage. We have reality.”

Continuing to deliver the message is important. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be enough open-minded swing votes listening. Extreme weather events feature prominently in the Project’s message, but those who doubt the connection between emissions based on human activity and the climate are unlikely to be convinced that the weather can be influenced by the deforestation/intensive-agriculture/fossil-fuel/volatile-chemical/over-consumption storm that has contributed to rising CO2 (and CO2 equivalent) levels. In fact, a recent Yale study found that only 20% of Tea Party members believe this connection exists (and only 36% of non-Tea Party Republicans.) More alarming is that 85% of Tea Partiers consider themselves well-informed on climate change, and more than half are not interested in more information. Let’s face it…they will not be convinced.

Concern about the climate is actually down across the board, so perhaps Gore’s efforts will at least bolster ‘the base.’ But it’s clear that there’s an ideological battle going on, and progress is going to continue to be slow until this becomes a uniting rather than dividing issue. So rather than waiting for irreversible disaster to hit, or attempting to convert naysayers, or keeping this in the political arena, maybe it would be better to focus on areas of common interest, and simply get to work.

The Yale study revealed that the public supports alternative energy across the board (which has not always been the case), and we all seem to agree that dependence on foreign oil is deeply uncool. So let’s keep supporting these efforts, and working on improving the economics and mainstreaming of alternatives. Most people tend to like old growth forests, whether in the name of tourism, biodiversity, or climate….does it matter which motivation drives interest in conserving them? Coal is dirty, so why not focus on clean air rather than emissions as a good reason to wean ourselves from it? And as I have posted before , over two billion people rely on the very inefficient use of basic biomass (primarily firewood and charcoal) for cooking and heating. This needs ot be addressed as a health and poverty issue as much as an environmental one.

I don’t know if this approach will be enough… but it’s a start. It certainly beats waiting around for a political solution, and I think that’s something we can all agree on.

You can watch the Climate Reality Project 24 videos here

Photo from Tom Raftery via flickr creative commons


William G.
William G.5 years ago

Thomas and other alarmists: You said "Once again William G comes to the rescue of big oil companies and the scientists they pay off. Way to care about the planet William! Bravo!" NO oil company payments for me, but if you can guide me to the payoff machine I will gladly take the money. The only people I am trying to save is mankind (you). It has been an excellently executed scam with endless funding and bountiful media time, and I feel sorry for the blind believers. I constantly give you all references to validate or dispute my comments. You return with propaganda and imaginations of oil companies paying off scientists. So be it. How does an ostrich breath with his head under the sand?

Thomas M.
Tom M.5 years ago

Once again William G comes to the rescue of big oil companies and the scientists they pay off.

Way to care about the planet William! Bravo!

Jim Gayden
Jim Gayden5 years ago

William G.
Greenhouse gasses not only trap heat, but they also convert UV radiation into IR radiation, effectively converting a non-heat radiation into a heat radiation. CO(2) is used as a catch-all for all types of greenhouse gasses. Forests, and oceans are both CO(2) sinks. But with heavy deforestation, and the oceans pH becoming ever-so-slightly more acidic, those CO(2) sinks are reaching their limits. So, not only does global warming exist, but we are also killing the oceans. And yes, there has been research into energy input from all sources vs. energy output, which do factually prove global warming.

Gloria D.
Gloria Diaz5 years ago

There is no worst blind that can see but it choose not to see...(word of the Bible)

Joan S.
Joan S.5 years ago

Never ceases to amaze me that people just don't get it. When I worked for an NGO at the UN back in the 80's and the US and our scientist wouldn't even recognize the "possibility" that how we were living and what we were spewing was affecting the atmosphere I was frustrated. Now that we have at least made a small step I feel like tearing my hair out. I know it's big biz that does not want to take responsibility for their part in it and have brainwashed so many. Just would like to scream.

William G.
William G.5 years ago

William Y - You are absolutely correct. The underlying problem I find with the CO2 scam is where is: solar energy heat, earth generated heat, solar reflection by clouds and snow cover, solar absorption by oceans and large bodies of open water, where is the replacement for the 'Mann hockey-stick scam', and where is the analysis proving greenhouse gases are the most important factor? I believe political ambitions have resulted in erroneous conclusions to otherwise excellent scientific studies. I have a lengthy dissertation (analysis) with relative references defining polar shift and the climatic affects. If you would like a copy, contact me directly. I will send it to you in .docx format or convert if necessary.

William Y.
William Y.5 years ago

Wiiliam G. "96% of the atmosphere is composed of water (H20)."

~78% of the atmosphere is Nitrogen, ~21% is oxygen the rest is a combination of inert gases, hydrogen, carbon dioxide [~0.03%], nitrogen oxides, water vapor [varies with temp & pressure] and other impurities.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Lauren A.
Lauren A.5 years ago

You go, Al!

William G.
William G.5 years ago

William Y - You said "Greenhouse gases on the other hand literally trap heat." This is a true statement that has been taken out of context. The ultimate enemy is CO2 according to Al Gore. CO2 content is 400 ppm of the total atmosphere. PPM = parts per million. This may also be stated 999,600 ppm of the total atmosphere is not CO2. 96% of the atmosphere is composed of water (H20). Clouds (and snow) reflect solar energy. In the 'Al Gore Scam' CO2 is man's greatest enemy; in reality it has little to do with the total earth temperature. CO2 is man's friend because it promotes plant growth and supports human and animal life.