Put Politics Aside and Celebrate Al Gore's Nobel Prize

First, our warmest congratulations to Al Gore. The Nobel Prize is one of the world's great honors and, in our view, one that is extremely well-deserved.

But I'm conscious that the standing ovation Gore is enjoying today is not exactly unanimous. The climate change conversation has become polarized - and belligerent - over the last decade. And Al Gore - a politician who dared to address a controversial public issue outside the conventional political process - has become a lightning rod for some hyper-political criticism. How can we get people from all points on the political spectrum to celebrate Gore's Nobel Prize without feeling that they are sacrificing their own cherished political interests?

It is, first of all, a shame that we have to ask such a question. It's a shame that North American society has grown so adversarial that it is impossible to congratulate a political opponent without appearing weak. It's also a shame that the fossil-fueled climate change deniers were originally so successful in defining global warming as a political issue. It's a shame that many Republicans agreed early on to ignore the science, reasoning simply that “if Al Gore's for it, then I must be against it.”

A lot of credit is owed to people like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain for getting us past that political polarization. These smart and courageous men broke early from the Republican pack to salute science over self-interest.

But the Nobel committee seems to agree that an even larger portion of credit should go to Al Gore. In a public education and advocacy campaign unprecedented in history, Gore was instrumental in alerting North Americans to this global threat. He got our attention.

Of course, he was not working alone. If I may be allowed a personal aside, I'd like to credit the David Suzuki Foundation (full disclosure; I'm the Chair) which produced its first major climate change campaign in 1996. And, more obviously, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - a global scientific collaboration that is also unprecedented in human history - has done almost two decades of exemplary work in advancing our understanding of this issue, even as certain self-interested parties were trying to keep us locked in confusion.

Still, for all the effort that everyone else has expended, I think it's clear that, in the American conversation, Al Gore tipped the balance. For which we all should offer an unequivocal: Bravo!

But we won't. Too many of us, today, are brooding about this honor, entirely because of its political implications. Too many are arguing, for example, that Gore was “only” trying to use his climate change advocacy campaign as a stepping stone to a presidential run for 2009. Well, if Gore planned all this - if he planned to win an Oscar, write a best seller and capture the Nobel Prize by publicizing the risks of anthropogenic global warming - he may be smarter than any of us suspected. If he's that prescient, he might make quite a good president.

But you don't have to commit a hypothetical vote to Al Gore for president. You don't have to forgive him for not fighting harder for the White House in 2001. You don't have to abandon any of your own political preferences just because you stand up today, with the the Nobel committee and the whole world, and say, thanks Al. Thanks for the hard work. Thanks for the good judgment. Thanks for refusing to let Exxon's baffle brigade continue to sew doubt about this critical global issue.

We have not turned the corner on emission controls, but I believe this Nobel Prize will demonstrate that we have turned a corner on a dark time of dissembling and denial. North America has finally acknowledged the scientific consensus and joined the global political consensus. For which, once again, we should say: Thanks Al. And congratulations. Today, you deserve it.


Seemed pretty coherent to me, but then again I am not sure you are making a point half the time either.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Carl. I find it endlessly funny that he goes on & on tarring the left with the same brush he uses for the Soviet regime, and then labels my remarks childish & incoherent – oh, and lacking in dignity. That’s especially good. I’ll retire to Bedlam (look it up, Rob). Good night.

Rob, I think Femack has been (understandably) exhausted by the circularity of your argument (if I may use that word so loosely).

You say that we care about the environment which, ipso facto makes us “socialists” and that “socialists,” as you further define them, necessarily and inevitably wreck the environment. (And while you have never punctuated your post with a literal, “Ah ha!” I think it’s clearly implied.)

All this you pass off as sharp political insight - insight so pure, so sanctified in the crucible of your Cold War world view - that it needs admit no new political information, and certainly no science.

Why don’t you stop telling me what I think politically? Why don’t you stop boring us all with irrelevant rants about what Eastern European despots did in the selfish pursuit of power? And why don’t you join the discussion about climate change, and particularly what solution you might suggest if all the ones you have seen so far are inadequate in your eyes?

“Rob, I think Femack has been (understandably) exhausted by the circularity of your argument (if I may use that word so loosely).”

Yes, you do tend to use words very loosely. It appears femack is, instead, “exhausted” by an inability to refute the argument. In any case, the word exhausted is entirely appropriate.

“You say that we care about the environment …”

Oh-ho! I don’t think I’d ever make that mistake!

“… which, ipso facto makes us “socialists” and that “socialists,” as you further define them, necessarily and inevitably wreck the environment.”

No, what I said was that you are, first and foremost, socialists. Socialists have oportunistically co-opted and subverted the cause of environmentalism.

As the record most clearly shows, socialists care nothing for the environment.

If you were an environmentalist, you’d actually be doing something to help the environment – be that pulling old shopping carts out of a creek, or picking up candy wrappers, or any of a host of other things you could be doing, but are not.

Instead, you are doing what socialists tend to do, which is dogmatically flapping your gums and propagandizing. You work for a PR firm, remember?

“And while you have never punctuated your post with a literal, “Ah ha!” I think it’s clearly implied.”

No, it’s not “clearly implied”; though you have clearly inferred it.

“All this you pass off as sharp political insight - insight so pure, so sanctified in the crucible of your Cold War world view - that it needs admit no new political information, and certainly no science.”

Heh. So who won the Cold War? I’d say you’re the one who will admit no new political information, since, evidently, you are still clinging to a dead and discredited political ideology.

As for your conception of “science”, this is used by people like you as a mere prop, in the grand tradition of Lysenkoism. The parallels are uncanny.

“Why don’t you stop telling me what I think politically?”

A little too close for comfort, eh?

“Why don’t you stop boring us all with irrelevant rants about what Eastern European despots did in the selfish pursuit of power?”

Pursuit of power?! Tsk-tsk, comrade – they did it in pursuit of socialism. As you well know.

“And why don’t you join the discussion about climate change, and particularly what solution you might suggest if all the ones you have seen so far are inadequate in your eyes?”

You presume that everyone accepts your proposal that “climate change” constitutes any sort of crisis which requires political intervention. But if you can indicate an historical example where any amount of legislation has successfully controlled the weather, I might change my mind.

… but let me try this one more time:

1) The position of a vast majority of sceptics and deniers is that environmentalists and people who have acknowledged AGW are “left wing nut jobs,” ie socialists.

2) You go on to say that socialists have historically cared nothing for the environment, a complete contradiction of (1).

In your simple-minded universe, socialism and environmentalism are mutually exclusive. You can’t have it both ways, Rob. If we are environmentalists we can’t be socialists, and if we are socialists we can’t be environmentalists. So let’s drop this particular red herring, shall we, and discuss something a little more “coherent”?

You seem to be obstinately misreading my comments.

I never said you were environmentalists. You are socialists pretending to be environmentalists.

What part that do you not understand?

OK, guys and gals. Time to calm down. I know it’s tough with Rob doing what he does, but don’t let your blood pressure get too high wasting time with this guy.

Rob, not all of us are “socialists”. There are Evangelical Christians (look up the “Creation Care” movement), Neo-Conservatives (such as former CIA head James Woolsey), and moderate Republicans like Sen. John McCain who are trying to fight AGW.

And Rob, I think you’re getting your terms mixed up. The Soviets were not “socialists”, but Communists. There is a difference. And I do agree that the Soviets completely messed up parts of their nation (the Aral Sea catastrophe is but one example). However, many “socialists” and environmentalists are also advocates of democracy (“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” as put by Sir Winston Churchill), and democracy is what the Soviets (and also Castro’s Cuba and Chavez’s Venezuela) cannot call their system of government.

“Rob, not all of us are “socialists”.

True enough. Many are, in fact, to use Lenin’s term, useful idiots.

“And Rob, I think you’re getting your terms mixed up. The Soviets were not “socialists”, but Communists.”

Really?! Hmm, then I wonder what the second “S” in USSR stood for? But thanks for schooling me up.

The USSR bit was an attempt to prevent outsiders from seeing what really went on there. Similar to the “Democratic Peoples’ Republic” of Korea (i.e. North Korea), which is far from democratic. The Soviets called themselves a “Socialist Republic” to hide the true nature of the regime and to attempt to attract supporters from the far left.

“Socialists” like Segolene Royal (who is a social democrat) are far different from “socialists” like Josef Stalin or Kim Jong-Il (who are dictatorial “Communists”).

Rob, not only are you in need of reading some actual science on climate change, you also need to read a political science textbook to get your terms straight.

Not surprising seem you have a thing for “re-educating” the bourgeoisie. Presumably, at some sort of “camp”.

Your ludicrous attempt at pedantry is amusing, though. As with most socialists, you deny any connection with communism, as though the end result were not identical. Unlike your weak attempt at revisionism, V.I. Lenin remains the go-to-guy for the correct definition of socialism. Perhaps you’ve been missing the meetings?

I’ve “missed the meetings” because I am not a socialist. In fact, I am actually drifting towards the centre-right (evidenced by the fact that there are several things I like about both the Democrats and Republicans, while there are several other things that both parties do which I dislike). Therefore, I am not in agreement with many of the things that socialists believe in. However, I am sufficiently unencumbered by ideological blindness to be able to differentiate “socialism” from “communism”.

Socialism is a belief or outlook that the role of government is to bring about equality, while communism is a totalitarian system of “government” in which personal freedoms are curtailed for the good of the “Motherland”. There is a difference. It is similar to the difference between “conservatism” and “fascism”.

Whereas you prefer to be a useless idiot. You call yourself a political blogger and you don’t know the difference between socialism and communism?

… Steve, if we can goad him into one more post he might just drop completely off the right side of the page and vanish into some kind of internet limbo – bye bye Rob!

does he? Well, I’ve had enough of Rob’s xenophobic, paranoid drivel. The original premise of this post was that it has turned into a right vs left issue (in the US, anyway), and to an extent it has grown out of the Gore/Bush antipathy. With Harper so willing to toady up to Bush, Canada has fallen into the same trap.

But as has been pointed out on innumerable occasions, this is about GLOBAL warming, and on the global stage, the science carries a lot more weight than personalities. The award of the Nobel jointly to the scientists and the messenger is a clear indication that there is a much more objective view of the issue outside of North America (fortunately!), and a much better grip on the potential impact for humanitarian crises if we sit on our hands and do nothing.

That’s the first example I thought of as well, John. Huge tracts of eastern Europe, including huge swaths of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia were turned into toxic moonscapes at the tender mercies of socialists. More recently we have communist China, who may yet outdo the human and environmental devastation of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”.

So, all evidence points to socialists having a complete disregard, if not outright hostility, to the environment and human well-being. Why give them another chance?

Rob and John, until you provide acceptable evidence that your assertions are not groundless, everything you say here is false.

If the entire unambiguous history of socialism in the 20th Century isn’t evidence enough for you, I don’t know what is?

So where’s your evidence, Rob? You’ve written lies here before; why would anyone accept your warped view of history that you probably just invented out of thin air?

I’d like to know on what basis you have decided that I am “pretending” to be an environmentalist (see your post Amazing,10:56, above)? I don’t recall meeting you (I think I would remember …), and I certainly haven’t posted my “Environmental Manifesto” to your blog out there in – Bismarck, is it? I have a pretty good idea what you stand for, having visited your blog. But how could you possibly make such a judgment about my commitment to the environment? Or for that matter about the sincerity of anyone else who shares that commitment? Could it be perhaps that your are prone to gross generalization and prejudice?

“The climate change conversation has become polarized - and belligerent - over the last decade.” – Hoggan PR Supremo

And of course the Hoggan PR denieralist smear campaign has had nothing to do with this state of affairs, has it.

Of course, Hoggan PR is just acting from altruist motives. The fact that a couple of Hoggan clients are into alternative energy and Hoggan himself chairs the Suzuki Foundation as well as being Suzuki’s PR guy have nothing to with Hoggan PR trying to create a climate that would benefit these paymasters. That’s just too cynical to contemplate!

did you have to dig for that information? I’m guessing you found full disclosure in the “About us” section of this blog. On the other hand, tracing funding sources and links among deniers & oil interests etc can be a very time-consuming task, as they seem to be very reluctant to be up-front about their backing. Transparency vs obfuscation – hmmm. Who will I trust?

Yup you go to the Hoggan PR web site and scan the list of clients and there they are. It never hurts to remind people that money makes the world go round, especially with Hoggan PR having its attack dog Littlemore sanctimoniously casting aspersions on the motives of others.

A populace alarmed over climate opens up opportunities for alternative energy companies and a donations-seeking environmentalist foundation to grow. Hoggan PR uses this web site to promote this climate of acceptance by trying to marginalize and ultimately silence those who might allay public fears by exposing the gaping holes in the AGW hypothesis.

I wonder if Hoggan PR clients feel they are well-served by this tactic? To this observer, it looks like questionnable strategy since the number of AGW sceptics seems to be increasing.

They are also becoming more vocal and prominent in the mass media. Why even CTV news, usually content to parrot whatever nonsense the AGW fear-mongers peddle, saw fit to obtain the views of Tim Ball as part of its coverage of the Nobel farce. I detect a budding understanding among the media that fairness demands balance on this issue. This is probably based on a dawning realization that the science is far from settled, despite claims to the contrary from the likes of Hoggan PR, Al Gore, Suzuki, and others.

Why don’t you go to the source? Why go after Gore? When I track the science involved (the IPCC reports are a good place to start), I am finding a consensus amongst the real, peer-reviewed, working and current climate scientists that AGW is a better than 90% probability, translating to “almost as certain as they can be”. From my point of view, that’s pretty good cause to start thinking about alternative energy sources. If the oncology team at the cancer centre tells me they are 90% sure I’ve got cancer, I’m not going to listen to the aromatherapist who thinks they’re full of BS. BTW, did you notice that Tim Ball quietly dropped his lawsuit against the Calgary Herald & Dan Johnson? Ball is losing credibility by the hour. I wouldn’t hold him up as some kind of maligned expert. He’s pathetic. Elsewhere you have referred to him as a climate science researcher. Can you name a single peer-reviewed article on the subject of AGW? Thought not.

Maybe you ought to read up on how IPCC works, Femack, before casting your lot with them and their predictions of probability. That is one seriously flawed group.

and I’d definitely cast my lot with them. As for “flawed”, well, I don’t have the time to list the flaws and inherent contradictions in the pronouncements of Ball, Lindzen, Singer, Baliunas, Carter, etc etc etc. And in fact, I no longer care what they have to say. Responding to this kind of baiting has gotten to be very boring, and a real waste of time. Contrary to the way science works, the deniers’ camp refuses to reconsider their position in the light of new, peer-reviewed, scholarly results that suggest they are wrong. And the evidence just keeps piling up …

When you’ve got something solid, that is some real scientific results that hold up to peer review and contradict what the consensus is saying, let me know.

Till then, rave on, JD. I have work to do.

You’ll have to wait a long time for that post from John for peer reviewed material since it doesnt exist. It was quite amusing to me when energy and environment rejected some denier centric garbage cant even get published there any more….(good laugh). Ian said it best John has fallen into the political putty brain camp, rejecting science because it doesnt fit his political viewpoints. Sad really, but hey minor victory, right wing politicans in Canada and the US reconize climate change as 1) real, 2) something that needs action 3) something that humans have been causing….sure they are slow doing this and cant seem to come up with plans that do enough but thats a lot better than what you hear from the putty brains.

First name the hypothesis. Then show us the gaping holes. (Then show me the increasing number of climate scientists who say it will be cooler in 20 years than now.)

“Put Politics Aside and Celebrate Al Gore’s Nobel Prize”

Sure, why not? And then …

“Put Religion Aside and Celebrate Satan As Our Lord and Master”