There’s been a lot of seasonal blowback for the climate change crusader Al Gore. A United States with 49 states experiencing snow this winter only exacerbated a plunge in popularity (They even tried to kick him off the board of Apple because the ice caps haven’t melted yet.), and he became an even easier target for critics who still call climate change ‘global warming.’
Both phrases are still spoken by Gore, who used them prolifically in a recent—and generously portioned—New York Times op-ed that came after a spate of perceived and actual failures in the climate change narrative. Most notably, the Copenhagen climate summit was a demonstration in bureaucratic ineptitude, and it didn’t meet its objective to create any kind of worldwide consensus to reduce emissions.
And most of it just has to do with money, like anything else. China, for example, refused to sign on to any targets that weren’t attached to GDP because their growth rate is fantastic, so any overall cap could restrict that. They wouldn’t negotiate on the matter, and it arguably derailed the whole debate. However, the U.S. Congress hasn’t made any movement because its members are mostly bought and sold by energy companies, of which many are the most profitable and powerful companies in history. So just because Barack Obama showed up in Denmark didn’t mean anything would happen when he got home.
But climate change detractors say Al Gore is a fraud because it snowed.
Will he be genuine if it gets really hot this summer?
(An aside: I’m a climate change skeptic, just as I’m a skeptic of anybody telling me anything. The term “climate change skeptic” is a misnomer when applied to those who actively discredit the theory without acknowledging all the evidence or leaving their politics at the door.)
The global warming debate is such a daily struggle because it occurs invariably after someone complains about the weather. It’s like when a driver complains about taxes after hitting a pothole. Except you don’t need to drive to complain about the weather. You don’t even need to pay taxes. It’s a universal. People understand weather.
But I don’t think they understand climate change.
I don’t understand it, just like I don’t understand stock derivatives, the endocrine system, the theory of relativity or the infatuation with the Twilight series. Some things are important even if you don’t understand why they exist or what they entail.
Some things are not, like the Twilight series.
But because we’re talking about weather, and everyone understands hot, cold, wet and dry, they figure that they understand climate change.
To put it another way, examine this phenomenon—everyone thinks the weatherman is wrong. Actually, most of the time, they’re right, within a margin of error. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be hanging on what they say. After all, they were right about all this snow.
Al Roker’s got his fans, even if he’s not right about every cold front. And many put Al Gore in a similar nerdy class of celebrity, even though he’s a former vice president. He’s got oodles of charm.
I don’t have a problem with Gore’s recent vilification. It’s coming from the same people who’ve been flinging shit at him for years, and his supporters are the same people who’ve been giving him massive exposure (like the New York Times) and trumpeting his cause.
Gore makes plenty of money on this whole apocalypse thing. He can take a few for the team.
But to spin the entire debate around one figure, as has become so popular in this media landscape, ignores the larger issue for the sake of an ideological rallying cry. Let’s forget about Al Gore. Let’s even forget about climate change. Let’s oversimplify this argument in a different way.
Let’s just assume the price of gas is going to go up. It usually does. Or the bill to heat your home, provide your electricity, etc. And let’s imagine those costs are also incurred to all the businesses that you use, and you pay more for their services as a result. Let’s say that keeps happening forever. Wouldn’t you want to try something else? And if it makes the air cleaner, isn’t that good?
Illustration clearly stolen from South Park‘s episode Imaginationland III.