Year 3, Month 11, Day 19: Roll Your Own?

The Durango Herald (CO) runs an AP piece discussing the benefits of a tax on carbon:

Experts on all sides of the issue have watched climate proposals fail in the past. Congress is still split, and many in the Republican party deny the existence of human-made climate change, despite what scientists say. Congress also on Tuesday blocked the European Union from imposing a tax on American airliners flying to the continent as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

Energy industry lobbyist Scott Segal said many utilities will fight a carbon tax.

“The conditions are far from ripe for a carbon tax, if for no other reason than a carbon tax is a tax on economic growth,” he said.

But environmental advocates are seizing the moment, determined not to let the interest in climate change subside with the floodwaters.

On Wednesday, former Vice President Al Gore launched a 24-hour online talkfest about global warming and disasters. Another group,, headed by environmental advocate and author Bill McKibben, is amid a 21-city bus tour.

Gore compared the link between extreme weather and “dirty energy” from coal, oil and natural gas to the links between cigarette smoking and lung cancer or the use of steroids and home runs in baseball.

They have a 350-word limit, which is way on the high side. Interesting how that affects the processes of composition. Sent November 15:

America’s fossil-fuel consumption is one of the most significant drivers of global climate change, and it’s revealing to follow up on former Vice-President Gore’s analogy with tobacco. Our entire economy is built around the ready availability and artificial cheapness of oil and coal, and the result has been a national addiction to these substances and the convenience they facilitate. Like heavy smokers, we recognize our dependency while pretending to be immune from the cold equations; like heavy smokers, we promise to quit but never seem to get around to it.

Of course, once the biopsy comes back positive, it’s too late for quitting to do much good, which is the position our civilization is in right now with fossil fuels. The diagnosis is very clear: Earth’s health is in dire jeopardy, with a planetary greenhouse effect on the brink of a catastrophic “tipping point” beyond which recovery will be impossible.

And the voices most loudly raised in denial? Unsurprisingly, their paychecks come from the very fossil fuel industry reaping huge profits from our addiction. Equally unsurprisingly, many of the same “experts” currently asserting that climate change is unrelated to fossil fuel consumption were testifying a few decades ago that tobacco didn’t have anything to do with lung cancer. They were lying then, and they’re lying now.

It’s time for America, and the world, to kick the fossil fuel habit once and for all. Oil, gas and coal need to come with warning labels, and we must stop subsidizing an industry that is destroying our home.

Warren Senders

It’s time

Year 3, Month 10, Day 26: I Wouldn’t Have Smoked In Bed If We Hadn’t Installed Those Smoke Detectors!

Not that this is news or anything, but the New York Times’ David Brooks is an utter idiot:

The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said that these new technologies were going to help us end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You’d go to Silicon Valley and all the venture capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into clean tech.

From that date on the story begins to get a little sadder.

Al Gore released his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. The global warming issue became associated with the highly partisan former vice president. Gore mobilized liberals, but, once he became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone.

Then, in 2008, Barack Obama seized upon green technology and decided to make it the centerpiece of his jobs program. During his presidential campaign he promised to create five million green tech jobs. Renewable energy has many virtues, but it is not a jobs program. Obama’s stimulus package set aside $90 billion for renewable energy loans and grants, but the number of actual jobs created has been small. Articles began to appear in the press of green technology grants that were costing $2 million per job created. The program began to look like a wasteful disappointment.

Federal subsidies also created a network of green tech corporations hoping to benefit from taxpayer dollars. One of the players in this network was, again, Al Gore. As Carol Leonnig reported in The Washington Post last week, Gore left public office in 2001 worth less than $2 million. Today his wealth is estimated to be around $100 million.

I’m going to stop doing facepalms and start doing headbricks, I swear. Sent October 19:

As the evidence accumulates all around us, and the scientific consensus reaches near unanimity, we’re going to hear more conservatives acknowledge the reality of global climate change. But because it involves admitting error, this process will involve them in a lot of blame-shifting, equivocating, and historical revisionism. David Brooks offers us a preview of what this will look in his attempt to hold Al Gore responsible for the American epidemic of climate-change denial.

Apparently Mr. Gore couldn’t attract conservative support because he was too…shrill? Too popular among hippies? Too right, too soon? Mr. Brooks blithely ignores both the GOP’s decades-long antipathy to science and their pathological hyper-partisanship in his eagerness to avoid responsibility for what his own ideological allies have wrought. Now that climate change itself is irrefutable, the locus of denial has shifted: Republicans would have done something about climate change, but those pesky environmentalists were in the way.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 10, Day 6: What The Framp?

The Monterey County Weekly runs a devastating piece by Dan Linehan titled, “We are almost completely f%#&ed— Al Gore rallies citizen deputies to break through climate-change denial while there’s still (a little) hope.” Read the whole thing. Excerpt:

If Al Gore’s environmental truth was inconvenient before, now it’s outright uncomfortable.

Last year was the earth’s hottest on record. Ever. 

That triggered extremes: A drought-generated dust storm reached 50 miles wide and 6,000 feet tall, engulfing Phoenix, Ariz. Tropical Storm Irene hit Killington, Vt., which has a ski mountain tall enough to see Canada – and it’s not too often you see the words “tropical” and “Canada” in the same sentence. Typhoon Megi dumped 45 inches of rain on Taiwan in 48 hours, forcing more than 350,000 people to evacuate.

And this year has scorched 2011. Over a recent month-and-a-half stretch, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 1,692 counties disaster areas due to drought, with about 80 percent of the country’s agricultural land affected. This comes after Russia stopped exporting food due to weather-related crop failures and resulting shortages. The worst drought in more than 100 years hit both North Korea and South Korea. On July 15, Kuwait hit an all-time high of 128.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

National Geographic reports that between 1998 and 2011, there have been 87 severe weather events in the U.S., and each caused at least $1 billion in damages, though they were comparatively modest economically compared to Hurricane Katrina, which topped out at $146 billion. The total disaster price tag nearly doubled the cost of the previous 16-year period. 

Severe weather events, like stronger hurricanes, harsher droughts, wilder floods and fiercer firestorms, are happening with greater frequency. Scientists have been warning us that this – the wallop of planet warming hitting harder and more frequently – was coming.

Good, if agonizing, stuff. Sent September 29:

There is no “solution” to global climate change, because the metastasizing greenhouse effect and its epiphenomena are not one, but a multitude of problems. What we face is a richly complex set of puzzles: how to survive in a rapidly transforming environment, how to slow (and perhaps reverse) that transformation, and how to recognize the processes that have brought us to this point in our civilization’s history.

The key, as always, is education. We as individuals and as a society must understand the factors contributing to climate change: the physics of the greenhouse effect, the chemistry of methane and carbon dioxide, the immediate and long-term costs of fossil fuels, the inherent contradictions of an economy built on a model of continuous growth, and the relentless pressure of an increasing human population.

And, while learning, we must act — as individuals, as families, as communities, as states, as nations, and as a species under threat. Oherwise, the climate crisis will offer only a “final solution.”

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 18: How Long Do You Think It Would Take Them To Change Positions?

The Chicago Tribune runs another version of the Al Gore/Great Lakes story:

DETROIT—Former Vice President Al Gore says dealing with the climate change crisis is essential to fixing some of the environmental problems plaguing the Great Lakes.

Gore drew links between results of a warming planet and regional issues affecting the lakes in a speech Thursday in Detroit during the annual meeting of the International Joint Commission, an U.S.-Canadian agency that advises both nations on shared waterways.

So I figured I’d get his back. Sent October 14:

Mr. Gore’s recent statement on the Great Lakes’ vulnerability is a scientifically grounded, calmly stated analysis of a very alarming situation. Conservative denialists, of course, don’t care that he has the facts on his side — they’ll still deride the former Vice-President, because they don’t know how to do anything else.

But at some point in the not-so-distant future, global climate change will be so obvious that no one will be able to dispute it any more. At that point, we can expect the Republican party’s talking points to shift rapidly. Their current favorite (“the global warming hoax is a socialist plot to impose one-world government”) will give way to something new. My prediction: the GOP will claim that climate chaos can only be mitigated by tax cuts on the wealthiest one percent of society. After which, they’ll insult Mr. Gore again, presumably for having been right too early.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 10, Day 17: Repent!

The Worthington Daily Globe (MN) runs an AP piece on Al Gore’s words about the Great Lakes, which are shrill:

Former Vice President Al Gore says dealing with the climate change crisis is essential to fixing some of the environmental problems plaguing the Great Lakes.

Gore drew links between results of a warming planet and regional issues affecting the lakes in a speech Thursday in Detroit during the annual meeting of the International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian agency that advises both nations on shared waterways.

He said increasingly intense storms likely caused by global warming are overwhelming wastewater treatment systems in the region. They dump excessive nutrients and sewage into the lakes, leading to beach closings and algae blooms.

Gore said climate change also causes more evaporation, which drives lake levels down.

I’m in a bit of a hurry today, and this letter’s joinery is slightly rickety in places. What the hell. Sent October 13:

While it’s fashionable in some circles to dismiss Al Gore’s words of warning on climate change, his facts are irrefutable. Excess precipitation has indeed overwhelmed water management systems — not just in the Great Lakes area, but all over the planet — triggering massive blooms of algae, contaminating public areas and impacting fish and wildlife populations.

Of course, this is just one aspect of a systemic problem so enormous it’s no wonder climate-change denialists prefer to ignore it entirely. Whether it’s the loss of biodiversity, the shocking decline in Arctic sea ice, or the uptick in extreme weather events everywhere on Earth, the evidence substantiating the danger posed by the greenhouse effect is now overwhelming — and very scary.

While the former Vice-President has the facts on his side, it’s fair to say that, unlike most prophets, Mr. Gore won’t gain any personal satisfaction from being proved right in the end.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 22: He Told You So

The Whittier Daily News reports approvingly on Al Gore’s 24-hour climate reality marathon:

NO one packs more information into a slide show than Al Gore, who won an Oscar for his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006.

Gore, the leading voice on global climate change, was back at it last week with his 24-hour streaming video show “Climate Reality Project” ( broadcast from 24 different locations in 13 languages Sept. 14 to Sept. 15.

While one right-wing blogger called it “death by PowerPoint,” I found it informative and worth a watch. If you missed it, you can catch re-runs on his website and on his Current TV channel. Not one fact will move you to act, but perhaps the avalanche of facts, quotes and paraphrases from just the “24th hour” presentation given by Gore himself from New York, will.

The link has an excellent set of bullet points that you would do well to copy and use over and over.

Sent September 18:

The corporate forces aligned to muffle Al Gore’s message are enormous. Through the misleading practice of false equivalency, in which two opposing sides are equated under the guise of journalism, many in our news and opinion media have abdicated their responsibility to the truth.

When the American public sees a one-to-one ratio of worried climate scientists and petro-funded denialists, it’s no wonder that there’s still “debate” on the veracity of climate change. But the correct proportion isn’t one-to-one; it’s more like ninety-seven to one. If ninety-seven heart specialists told you to quit smoking, and three said they wanted more tests…what would you do?

While some candidates explicitly reject science (or pretend to in order to curry the favor of primary voters), climate change’s terrifying consequences should remove this issue from the political arena. The vast majority of climatologists are telling us something important. Will we wake up and pay attention?

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 19: The Words Are There. Will We Use Them?

The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal brings up the necessity of actually, you know, talking about climate change:

In the meantime, the reality of climate change marches on. Globally, 2010 was tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record. In Canada, 2010 was the hottest year on record. Extreme weather events across the globe – from Pakistan to Russia to Brazil to the U.S. – have led to misery, destruction, food shortages and loss of life.

And, for the record, global temperature data is indeed accurate: Distinct meteorological organizations around the world have independently noted identical global-warming trends. The climate impacts of sun spots and volcanoes are slight compared to the impacts of CO2 from human combustion of fossil fuel. Ninety-seven per cent of the world’s leading climate scientists do agree that human activity is a major contributor to global warming.

The reality of greenhouse gas emissions marches on too. Global emissions in 2010 were at their highest level ever.

It’s time to talk

In a recent interview, Al Gore reflected that the U.S. civil rights movement. It was finally won when everyday people dared to stand up against racism in everyday conversations. Gore suggests the same strategy is needed to overcome the proliferation of misinformation on climate change. Everyday people would pave the way for real action.

In other words, we need to talk.

Sent September 14:

The corporate climate-change denialist machinery has been going full tilt for well over a decade by now, casting doubt on the integrity of scientific experts with one manufactured non-scandal after another. Unfortunately, many people have fallen for their spurious claims, swallowing the petroleum industry’s position hook, line and sinker. Those so-called “skeptics” who are found everywhere from talk radio to online comment threads are as far from actual skepticism as it’s possible to get. They know the “truth”; factuality and evidence be damned.

Meanwhile, of course, the atmospheric CO2 count continues to climb, exacerbating the greenhouse effect that is making our planet heat up, which in turn is making the weather, um, livelier: heavier rains, deeper snows, drier droughts, more devastating storms. It’s true: if we fail to address climate change, we are ever likelier to fail as a species. Everybody’s doing something about the weather — but nobody’s talking about it.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 15: I’m Talking About YOU, Rush.

The September 11 issue of The Tennesseean runs a plug for Al Gore’s Climate Reality project:

Former Vice President Al Gore of Nashville leads a worldwide, live-streamed, climate change-focused event called “24 Hours of Reality” that begins Wednesday at 7 p.m., Central time, and ends with the last hour presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday, Eastern time. The first will be from Mexico City and in Spanish, followed by hour-long presentations — one after another — in different areas of the globe, moving west. Several are in English, as will be the final one in New York City. Broadcast by Ustream, it can be viewed at

It’s good to write something in support, rather than in opposition. Sent Sept. 11:

Al Gore’s clarity of purpose is one of America’s most important assets. The former VP’s upcoming “Climate Reality” campaign deserves our respect and attention. Unfortunately, the denialist contingent has chosen to reject sound scientific conclusions for a variety of specious reasons, most of which boil down to, “because we don’t want to believe it.”

Well, the evidence has been in for a long time. Despite a series of contrived and debunked non-scandals, the scientific consensus on global climate change is overwhelming: humans cause it, it’s happening right now, it will affect our lives very significantly, and we — all of us — need to take action rapidly if we are to avoid catastrophe. Mr. Gore’s prescience is all the more important for this reason — he’s been warning us about this for well over a decade, despite the mockery of the uninformed, the professionally ignorant, and the selfishly greedy.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 9: Squirrel!

The June 23 Boston Globe reports on the “Al Gore was mean to Obama” kerfuffle:

In a 7,000-word essay posted online yesterday by Rolling Stone magazine, Gore said the president hasn’t stood up for “bold action’’ on the problem and has done little to move the country forward since he replaced Republican George W. Bush.

Bush infuriated environmentalists by resisting mandatory controls on the pollution blamed for climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is at least partly responsible. The scientific case has only gotten stronger since, Gore argues, but Obama has not used it to force significant change.

“Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,’’ Gore said. “He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community . . . to bring the reality of the science before the public.’’

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sent June 23:

While it makes excellent headlines when one important Democrat says mean things about another, the real story in Al Gore’s words is deeper and far more important. The Obama administration’s regrettable timidity and incrementalism on environmental and energy issues is merely symptomatic of a more pervasive problem which Mr. Gore addressed directly in his recent article in Rolling Stone. As long as our news media treat science like political gamesmanship, reporting on climate change will continue to distort the facts and mislead the public. And as long as our politicians treat scientific ignorance and innumeracy as a virtue, our policies will reflect no reality beyond superficial electoral exigencies. While Mr. Obama and his team certainly need to be doing more to combat the gravest threat human civilization has faced in millennia, the blame for our inaction belongs to the corporate forces which control both our politicians and our communications.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 7, Day 8: Like Asphyxiating Fish In A Barrel

More on Gore, from the June 22 Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Al Gore has gone public with his complaints about President Barack Obama’s environmental record and leadership on climate change – legitimizing a groundswell of grumbling from the left and throwing open the door for more of the same.


It’s bad news for the White House – especially coming on the heels of a new poll showing that only 30 percent of Americans say they definitely plan to vote for Obama in 2012.

“President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,” the former vice president wrote in a 7,000-word essay for Rolling Stone. “He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community – including our own National Academy – to bring the reality of the science before the public.”

Sent June 22:

While Al Gore’s critique of President Obama makes excellent headlines, the real problem lies elsewhere — in the irresponsibility of politicians and corporate forces which place the well-being of the world’s corporations above that of the world’s people. The readiness of our elected representatives to ignore actual scientific expertise in favor of bizarre conspiracy theories is a symptom of the extent to which the fossil-fuel sector exerts control over our government; the readiness of our media to play a specious game of false equivalency in which every worried climatologist is “balanced” by a paid shill for Big Oil is likewise a symptom of that industry’s influence on our print and broadcast outlets. With rapidly deteriorating oceans, melting icecaps, worldwide outbreaks of extreme weather and catastrophe looming on the horizon, it’s time for politicians, media and corporations to get to work on something more important than protecting profit margins. Protecting us.

Warren Senders