President Obama is no longer off-limits when it comes to criticism from Al Gore. The former vice president penned a 7,000-word essay that will appear in Rolling Stone in which he did not hold back.
Before taking a few shots at the president, Gore used most of his essay to focus on criticism of the media for its struggle to effectively “referee” the climate change debate. Gore described the debate as an unfair “wrestling match.” “It’s a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues,” wrote Gore.
While Gore’s criticism of the polluters who fund anti-climate public relations campaigns has become expected, what he said about Obama is the real news. The former vice president’s eruption is likely the result of building frustration among the environmental community, many of whom feel that Obama is their best of a lot of crummy options when it comes to addressing climate change.
The president’s general silence on the climate change issue was Gore’s jumping off point. “President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,” began Gore. “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.”
Gore admits that the president has made progress on some green issues like fuel efficiency but has avoided the spotlight when it came to standing up for bigger causes. “In spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change,” claims Gore. Then he basically accused Obama of backing down from any political fights involving climate change. “After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority.”
Gore didn’t restrict his criticism to what Obama has and hasn’t said about climate change over the last two years. He clearly pointed out that the president’s policy on oil production has been harmful to the environment, and falls short of solving any problems associated with climate change. “He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that ‘drill, baby, drill’ is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.”
Gore’s essay is fascinating and is a must-read for anyone interested in both politics and the environment. He takes plenty of shots in his assessment of where we are in the climate change debate. Between the media, polluters and Congress, Gore suggests there’s plenty of blame to go around, but it’s the blame he places on Obama that will be grabbing all the headlines.