Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Al Gore talks tough on global warming

Al Gore, ex-vice president and once almost president of the USA has now turned eco-activist. Is this just another politician looking for public approval as a prelude to a presidential run? Or is Al Gore a committed environmentalist with a genuine concern for our planet? In a new forward for his revised book ‘Earth in the Balance’ he makes some valid points about the scientific community and raises some quite disturbing issues with the Bush administration. Mr Gore says with amazing hindsight “I wish that we could have had in the 1990’s the deafening scientific consensus that has emerged in more recent years”. I do believe there were some scientists and many environmentalists talking about rising global temperatures in the 1990’s, but they were either ignored or ridiculed. The US government, like all governments, chooses carefully which scientific advice to follow at any given moment, usually the advice that matches its own aims. In the case of the Bush administration, this was taken to new levels as Mr Gore states that under Bush the US pulled out of the Kyoto treaty, reversed their pledge to regulate CO2 as a pollutant and replaced key scientific advisors with ones suggested by ExxonMobil.

This last act has probably done the most damage, as the new scientific advisors allegedly vetted and adjusted scientific evidence to raise doubts about the human impact on global warming, and even tried to cast doubts on global warming actually existing. The question is though, would a president Gore have done any more to reduce CO2 emissions in the USA? While he was vice president to Bill Clinton, carbon emissions rose by 15%, faster than at any time in modern US history. I think it is always easier to be an armchair president or prime minister, all you have to worry about is getting in the papers and on tv, and of course impressing the voters, but once you’re in power you have many more restrictions on what you can do. The reality of running a modern economy is far more complex than Mr Gore makes out. Every decision has consequences to the economy, to the people, to business and to the environment. Nothing is ever simple nor is it ever black and white.

[Via The Independent]

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