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Global Warming and Morality
In a recent interview, former Vice President Al Gore compared global warming skepticism to racism. He explained that his generation began to win the Civil Rights movement by questioning their elders on the morality of discriminating against people whose skin color was different. Seeing many similarities between the two cultural debates, Gore believes that society should use morality to marginalize global warming skepticism the same way it used morality to marginalize racism.
Now while I think it's over the top to use such an analogy, I'll at least give Mr. Gore some credit for not literally accusing global warming skeptics of being racists. In today's political environment, that sort of thing has sadly become common from the left. However, in the wake of his profanity-laced-tirade against the same opponents a few weeks ago, it's clear that Al Gore has found himself in the desperate, unanticipated position of having to fight for his own relevance.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Just a few short years ago, Al was the king of the world. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental activism, an Oscar for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", an Emmy for his "Current TV" news channel, and Tony Award for his critically acclaimed Broadway musical "Dancing for Carbon Credits". I might be wrong about that last one, but you get my point. In addition to having the respect of world leaders and unlimited media adoration, he was racking up millions and millions of dollars in speaking fees. He had successfully transitioned from a politician to a celebrity. Life couldn't have been better.
But suddenly, he and his crusade were on the receiving end of an unexpected double-whammy. The world was hit with an economic crisis that re-prioritized international concern away from climate change and toward fiscal stability. Soon after, the Climategate scandal hit. Hacked emails revealed that leading climate change scientists had been actively suppressing their critics while manipulating climate data that was proving their own predictions wrong. The U.S. media largely didn't pick up on Climategate (big surprise), but the British media certainly did and the climate change movement was tremendously hurt by the exposure.
Gore seemed to go into sabbatical with his global influence soon reduced to reading environmental poetry to a fawning, emotional Harry Smith on CBS's "Early Show". By the way, if any of you haven't watched that video on YouTube, you're missing out on a classic.
I certainly don't feel sorry for Mr. Gore, as I think his arrogance and condescension toward opposing views and opposing data has clouded what could very well be a legitimate issue. I don't subscribe to the alarmist tactics that he has used to promote his environmental prophecies. However, I also don't feel comfortable discounting the evidence that man-made pollution is having a dangerous affect on our atmosphere.
What I can say without any hesitation is that the differing opinions in the global warming debate have nothing to do with morality. There is no moral edge between believers and skeptics. However, Al Gore himself may be an exception. If skeptics of man-made global warming are immoral (as Gore believes), what does that make the spokesman of the movement who leaves a larger carbon footprint in any given year than the average person does in a lifetime?
Personalize the question: If you were absolutely convinced that the lifestyle of many humans was causing catastrophic damage to the planet, what would you do? Would you change your own lifestyle to keep from contributing to the problem, or would you live a lifestyle that exacerbates the problem while you lecture others on the problem (making millions of dollars in the process)? Isn't that the real moral argument here?
To use his own metaphor of racism, which I do only in the spirit of irony: Isn't Al Gore like a segregationist who preaches racial diversity to others?