I resisted reading Al Gore’s big article on the climate crisis in Rolling Stone (“Climate of Denial: Can science and truth withstand the merchants of poison?”) as long as I could.
But after seeing it Facebook’d, Tweeted and blogged to death, today I finally gave in. And, as they say on TV, boy am I glad I did. If your enthusiasm has lagged for fighting the good fight on climate change, Gore’s latest jeremiad is sure to kick you back into gear.
A reminder: Lies don’t deserve equal time
After making a powerful case on the threat of climate change, Gore stands up for Senator Moynihan’s essential maxim that “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
“Here is the truth,” Gore says. “The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act.”
This to work up to a call to action that begins with today’s biggest objection to climate activism or to politics in general — plutocratic control of government by big corporations:
Finally, and above all, don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, “Now go out and make me do it.”
Treat it like the N Word
“Become a committed advocate for solving the crisis,” Gore exhorts us. “You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it’s some sort of hoax, don’t let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker.”
Maybe we won’t all join activist groups. But we can all speak up for climate in everyday conversations, if we have the courage. For example, the next time somebody makes a snide comment about the “climate hoax” or a lame joke about how cool weather somewhere disproves climate science, don’t just smile and let it slide to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
Of course, we’re all raised to be polite. Is it really worth it to stand up for the truth about climate even if it makes casual conversation tense?
Gore encourages us to approach remarks denying climate science as if they were a racial slur.
“The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.”
Thus, a much needed call to behave with integrity on a daily basis.
Since I live in a rural area that’s home to many political conservatives, this hits home for me. I now cringe as I remember conversations where I said things like, “Well, even if you don’t believe in global warming, you should still support energy efficiency to save money.”
I’m going to try not to chicken out like that anymore.
The online version of “Climate of Denial” is eight pages long. And worth every page.
— Erik Curren