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Right Wing Panicked Over Gore

Right Wing Panicked Over Gore

Pinch me.

Was I really in Boise, Idaho with 10,000 people aching to hear Al Gore’s presentation on global warming? It makes you wonder if the true appetite for this message in reddest Idaho was north of 15,000. The feeling in that arena was electric. It was the largest live audience ever to hear this message.

Rolling Stone has published an article on Gore’s prospects of converting from prophet to president. It mentions the Boise speech as evidence that the climate-change message is catching fire.

The instant, almost vitriolic negative reaction from the Idaho right was predictable, and the list of angry criticism spread like noxious weeds. Letters to the editor and blog comments complain Gore is “a politician not a scientist,” that he’s preening for a presidential run, that he must be a tool of California’s environmental cabal, that he’s scaring the children, or that we can blame it on China. You get the picture.

In Idaho we get the unabridged and unfiltered views from the right, so we see some nasty message points circulating around the fringes. We were even treated to debunking news releases from the religious right and a pre-emptive strike by Idaho’s senior senator, Larry Craig, before Gore hit town.

Some of the naysayers and anti-Gore folks had nothing better to say than the sold-out arena was merely a progressives’ night out on the town.

Gore surely provokes negative reactions after every speech. As the first wave of intemperate reaction from the right washes over us, we have the opportunity to re-examine our own views towards the message Gore dropped on our doorstep.

The immediate attacks on Gore say something else to me: panic.

It’s reminiscent of the mad dash to Terry Schiavo’s bedside by the far right, who tried to send a message to Americans that Congress should butt in and tell us how to handle our personal and private end-of-life decisions. Tom DeLay and his band of absolutists thought they had the moral high ground, only to discover Americans resented their interference and could figure out their own morality, thank you very much.

Our free society presents us with choices. We have on and off buttons. We can consume or save. We can join or sit on the sidelines. We can vote or not vote. We can recycle or not recycle. We can buy big or we can buy little. We can rebel or remain passive. We can reduce greenhouse gas – or we can ignore it.

The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. doesn’t necessarily require a law, treaty or band of morality cops on the beat in our living rooms. Armed with the facts, Americans will make the right choice.

I have worked for the largest public relations agency in North America. You can bet consultants across America are advising clients to catch this wave and never look back. America is on the move to scrub its neighborhoods, and corporate America doesn’t want to get left behind. We’re at the intersection of cleaning up the planet while having a positive impact on the corporate bottom line. It’s okay – even advantageous – to be green.

Ten thousand people showed up in Boise to hear Al Gore because they believe America can do a better job protecting our precious earth. We all define that more precisely in our own lives. The race to accumulate “stuff” seems to be decelerating. Baby boomers are mature enough to know the difference between needs and wants, and they possess the good sense to act on their convictions. The explosion of communications has created a new ethic among people of all ages, sensitizing us that something is amiss in our environment. Most of us are looking for ways to dial it down a notch or two in our lives, families, communities and country.

Movements don’t necessarily follow political ideology. They emerge, catch fire, attract champions, gain critical mass and become part of our culture. They don’t always take shape in a statutory framework. Oftentimes, legislating a “fix” is a sure-fire way to blunt a movement.

Al Gore has started a movement. No matter how you view it, at this moment Americans are approaching the tipping point in their desire to find ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

The knee-jerk reaction from the right wing is comical. It reeks of desperation. Once again, they claim to be our shield from international organizations, multi-lateralists, one-world government, humanists and secularists – their tired old masks to put a monkey wrench in Al Gore’s message.

I sense this movement is a runaway train, and the right will be left standing bewildered at the station. The reaction from a majority of Americans will be the same as when the right wing interfered in the Terry Schiavo case. Butt out! We can handle it.

About Larry LaRocco

Comments

  1. Irwin Horowitz says:

    And now two Norwegian politicians have nominated former VP Gore for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on this issue:

    http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1623952.ece

  2. Lynn Boutz says:

    As always, I enjoyed your story.

  3. larry says:

    Irwin: Every hour there is some new development in the news pointing out public acceptance of Gore’s message or further scientific data in support. Some are in still in denial. That’s why Gore called it “an inconvenient truth.”

    Lynn: Thanks for your warm comments. I’ll keep writing and I hope you do the same to let me know what you think. Best wishes.

    Larry

  4. ruckrover says:

    We have rednecks here in Australia too (the other Kyoto truant nation), but generally Gore is well liked and Bush despised. That really says something from perhaps the USA’s closest ally. Most of the rest of the world are even more appalled by Bush, he has been an unmitigated disaster for the United States’ reputation in the world.

    Even though Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize I hope he doesn’t run for president, he is too valuable in fighting the good fight for the environment. What is needed is a Democrat president who puts Gore into some climate change policy role in the White House.

    There is a right wing blog called “Hot Air” that lambasts the Nobel Peace prize nomination of Al Gore and asks what is the connection between global warming and peace. Well to answer them – rising sea levels, droughts, famines, food shortages, 100s millions of environmental refugees, collapsing stock markets – all are the fuel for war. Obvious to anyone really, except right wing free market fundamentalists.

  5. Jon Some says:

    Connection between global warming and peace?
    Deserts and dead seas are some of the most peaceful places on the planet.

  6. Craig Moore says:

    I take this column was written a little tongue in cheek. When I was young and foolish I knew a guy, Buddy, who when bored would say something like, “Let’s go downtown and draw some fire.” The hoped for attention coming from local police. In that vein I’ll add to the commentary.

    You wrote, “Armed with the facts, Americans will make the right choice.” Last I checked Gavin Newsom is an American. Perhaps he couldn’t find the “on” and “off” buttons on his ‘left-wing’ clicker thing.

  7. Nils Ribi says:

    Very well said Larry. It was good to see you in Boise last week.

    Major ski resorts such as Aspen and Park City have embraced the need to fight global warming and save our snow. We are now working to see that Sun Valley “catches the wave and never looks back.”

    Fortunately, Al Gore’s visit to Boise inspired students from the Wood River High School and The Community School to take action and they have not hesitated. The other evening students at the Community School showed “An Inconvenient Truth” and held a town hall meeting to discuss what we as a community can do to immediately to start fighting global warming locally. Students at Wood River High School are forming an environmental club and are working with the City of Hailey to get them to sign on to the Climate Protection Agreement. This is all because they were inspired by Gore’s presentation.

    They understand the argument is over on global warming and are counting on us to help them make planet earth livable when they are our age.

    Here are a couple of links to what other ski resorts are doing:

    Aspen/Snowmass:
    http://www.aspensnowmass.com/environment/

    Park City Mountain Resort:
    http://www.saveoursnow.org/index.html

  8. Marion says:

    C’mon, I keep asking what is Al Gore, or any of the rest of the “believers” doing to combat this warming? How many gallons of fuel did Mr. Gore burn on his little foray to Idaho? How much fuel was burned for 10,000 folks to go to the talk? Would not an Internet program have at least followed the theme of cutting back?
    Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for saving the universe and I am personally very frugal, especially with water. I just do not understand the value of burning 10s of thousands of gallons of fuel to hear someone talk about the problem. There are lots of articles on tv and the net and newspapers everyday, but no one offers a solution. Shut down manufacturing? Live one day using nothing manufactured, then tell me if it is doable. If I never drove my little car again, I could never save the amount of fuel that was burned for that one talk, in fact, conversely, if I drove to Cody every day I could never use that amount.
    I will admit I would welcome a little global warming today, with temps again hovering in the zero range.

  9. John W. Post says:

    Well done, Larry! We were also heartened by the response to Gore’s visit. The “movement” to restore and improve the environs we live in has always had detractors on the political right. As long as there is a buck to be made exploiting the environment for short-term gain and some of that buck contributed to a conservative politician, we’ll have resistance to the truth. Especially in Idaho. It is, in a word, pathetic.
    Maybe Gore could have put it this way: “We are over-grazing this planet, Folks and this s**t’s gotta stop…” End of speech.
    This is no time to stand quietly. Idahoans who care must find their voices and raise them loud and strong. We must also be ready to walk the talk and set an example for others to follow. I want my grandkids to live in a nice place, too.

  10. Marion says:

    That is all I ask, for you guys to walk the walk. Grazing is not the problem, that is the best way of providing food. Without grazing you soon have weeds.

  11. Craig Moore says:

    John, it is truly noble for the human species to recognize wrongs and devote effort to rectify the situation. Dr. Shaviv raises a good point in the ” A Clarifying Note” of his work: http://www.sciencebits.com/CO2orSolar We should do things for the right things and not undermine that effort with fallacious assertions. In that context Dr. Lindzen had a recent appearance on Larry King’s “Smackdown” : http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/31/lkl.01.html

    He stated: “Well, in a certain sense, when it comes to expenditures, and I’m speaking mostly as a citizen, except in one respect, almost everything proposed so far, if there’s anything that there is a consensus on, will do very little to affect climate. So right now despite all of the claims to the contrary, we’re talking about symbolism. And I think Julian’s point is correct. Do you spend a lot? Do you distort a great deal in the economy for symbolism? And I think future generations are not going to blame us for anything except for being silly, for letting a few tenths of a degree panic us. And I think nobody is arguing about whether our climate is changing. It’s always changing. Sea level has been rising since the end of the last ice age. The experts on it in the IPCC have freely acknowledged there’s no strong evidence it’s accelerating. Senator Inhofe was absolutely right. All that’s coming out Friday is a summary for policymakers that is not prepared by scientists. Rob is wrong. It’s not 2,500 people offering their consensus, I participated in that. Each person who is an author writes one or two pages in conjunction with someone else. They travel around the world several times a year for several years to write it and the summary for policymakers has the input of about 13 of the scientists, but ultimately, it is written by representatives of governments, of environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, and industrial organizations, each seeking their own benefit.”

    Yesterday, I heard Hillary Clinton say that we can stop global warming. How arrogant and fallacious. The earth has been having climate cycles for 100′s of million years. The suggestion that we can stop such natural process change is just plain laughable. Is she a complete idiot or just repeating the popular tripe for political value? We have the ability to address our part of the cycle process but we have no ability to stop the supertanker momentum. In my opinion, such rhetoric as hers undermines serious commentary on targeted efforts to address environmental issues of clean air, clean water and abundant food sources while maintaining some green areas to recreate in. Let’s do what we can do for the right reasons and achievable goals.

  12. Craig Moore says:

    Correction, I meant to write “right reasons,” not “right things.”

  13. Brodie Farquhar says:

    The American Enterprise Institute, heavily funded by ExxonMobile, has offered $10,000 to climate scientists who’ll write articles to dispute or cast doubt on whether global warming is caused — in whole or in part — by Man.

    See an AEI letter here: http://websrvr80il.audiovideoweb.com/il80web20037/ThinkProgress/2007/aeiletter.pdf

    To those who dispute whether tainted money produces tainted science, scholarship or punditry, I submit two quotes to consider:

    “We’ve already established what you are, ma’am. Now we’re just haggling over the price.” — George Bernard Shaw, and….

    “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” – Ronald Reagan

  14. Craig Moore says:

    As a reality check I find it helpful to remember that we shouldn’t believe everything we think. Which of the IPCC contributing scientists and other noted climate authorites took the Exxon incentive or any other funding souces that have a litmus test of belief or purpose as a requirement for financing their work? Which writings of their’s directly correlate to accepting that inducement? I know facts aren’t as sexy as unstrained paranoia, but it’s a place to start. Is there an intrepid reporter that can dig out the facts rather than repeat the pillow talk?

  15. mike says:

    Just for the record, any time someone other that the voter modifies a ballot, any ballot, including an absentee ballot, at any time after it has been cast, that is called vote tampering. Vote tampering is not only illegal and unethical; in this democracy, it is treason. I like Al Gore. I’d like to see him re-elected, just to set things right if for no other reason.

  16. pete geddes says:

    Understanding public complacency about climate change: adults’ mental models of climate change violate conservation of matter

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/f367413412565006/
    Abstract Public attitudes about climate change reveal a contradiction. Surveys show most Americans believe climate change poses serious risks but also that reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sufficient to stabilize atmospheric GHG concentrations can be deferred until there is greater evidence that climate change is harmful. US policymakers likewise argue it is prudent to wait and see whether climate change will cause substantial economic harm before undertaking policies to reduce emissions. Such wait-and-see policies erroneously presume climate change can be reversed quickly should harm become evident, underestimating substantial delays in the climate’s response to anthropogenic forcing. We report experiments with highly educated adults – graduate students at MIT – showing widespread misunderstanding of the fundamental stock and flow relationships, including mass balance principles, that lead to long response delays. GHG emissions are now about twice the rate of GHG removal from the atmosphere. GHG concentrations will therefore continue to rise even if emissions fall, stabilizing only when emissions equal removal. In contrast, most subjects believe atmospheric GHG concentrations can be stabilized while emissions into the atmosphere continuously exceed the removal of GHGs from it. These beliefs – analogous to arguing a bathtub filled faster than it drains will never overflow – support wait-and-see policies but violate conservation of matter. Low public support for mitigation policies may arise from misconceptions of climate dynamics rather than high discount rates or uncertainty about the impact of climate change. Implications for education and communication between scientists and nonscientists (the public and policymakers) are discussed.

  17. Larry LaRocco says:

    Whatever one believes this topic has generated a great deal of discussion, passion and involvement. The planet will be the beneficiary. Those who think Gore is smoking something probably won’t change their lifestyles and increase their carbon footprint but many will make adjustments and as I said “dial it down a notch or two.” The change is Congress allows for more discussion through the hearing process. Our country has been in a straitjacket for too long without a proper dialogue on these key issues.

    Marion, thanks for pointing out the WSJ edit. This side of the story must be heard, considered and digested. It’s interesting that the opinion piece was not hysterical. That’s the reason I read George Will and others. They challenge the reader. We shouldn’t ignore the warning signs, however. The embassy bombings were a prelude to 9/11. I’m grateful for everyone’s participation. Will we all be watching the Academy Awards with interest? The Idaho Statesman today has an interesting array of letters to the editor on the subject: http://www.idahostatesman.com/127/story/70037.html.
    Larry

  18. Marion says:

    Larry, I think you are wrong about people changing their habits. Cost has caused some, but recycling has become a way of life without folks even thinking about it in may cases.
    Actually I think there has been far more hysteria on the part of those who feel threatened by any one who doesn’t “believe”.

  19. Craig Moore says:

    I have referred to Dr. Shaviv before. Here is his latest on the IPCC4 and other matters: http://www.sciencebits.com/NoInterview

    If he is wrong, where is he wrong and why?

    There is also a recent comment from a gentleman in Great Britain. He captures some of the same questions and concerns that I have. See: http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/letters/display.var.1171273.0.0.php

    He writes: “Is anyone asking if the measures we are being encouraged to take will actually have an effect? Will the cost of these measures be justified or is it better to put in place plans to protect us from the inevitable?”

    The worldwide carbon tax seems to be the solution by Chirac’s world environmental police body. How will adding $.25 to $.40 a gallon carbon tax improve the dire forecasted climate change? Where is the emperical evidence for this? Will this tax just be another “sin” tax like tobacco and alchohol that fills goverment coffers without changing behaviour? Is that why the tax idea is first out of the box as a touted solution?

  20. Mark says:

    My daughter was very excited when she got her tickets to the presentation (she’s going to BSU, yea Bronco’s), and she was very impressed by Al and the presentation.