Al Gore to Climate Change Denying Cranks: ‘Reality Is Not an Opinion’

The former Veep’s ‘24 Hours of Reality’ ends—here are six key takeaways.
"It (climate change) is not a political problem, it is a human problem," says former Vice President Al Gore. (Photo: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)
Sep 15, 2011· 3 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Self-induced sleep deprivation didn’t stop former Vice President Al Gore from dragging global warming doubt-sowers out back behind the proverbial woodshed on Thursday night for a fact-based, scientific beat down.

Headlining the last hour of The Climate Reality Project’s climate marathon, Gore—who reportedly stayed up for the entire 24-hour event—took to a darkened stage in New York and used roughly 200 PowerPoint slides to present evidence linking man-made climate change to recent extreme weather events.

“Reality is not an opinion, and it’s time to decide we won’t be lied to anymore,” Gore tells TakePart, in an exclusive interview. “So don’t be silent. Tell the truth about climate change every day, wherever you are.”

The event, “24 Hours of Reality,” began on Wednesday night in Mexico City and used 23 experts and Gore to present local viewpoints on the impact of climate change from 24 locations around the world, including the Solomon Islands, Istanbul, and Dubai.

First and foremost, start with something simple: speak up. Talk about the climate crisis with everyone you know.

The Nobel Prize winner’s telethon came at a critical juncture in the global warming debate.

Last month, the number of Americans concerned about climate change dropped to 48 percent, down from 62 percent in 2007.

Last year tied 2005 as the hottest year since 1880, when record keeping first began, reports NASA.

In the 24 hours it took Al and the Goracles to spread the Gospel Of This Is Undeniably Happening, So Lets Stop Pretending Like We Can Just Dial Up 1-800-PLANET At The 25th Hour To Order A Replacement Earth, 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions were released into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Those are the facts.

The politics of the climate knife fight are considerably less rosy.

Liberals are deeply disappointed in President Obama’s unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to press the country on the urgency of settled science.

The climate views held by the vast majority of GOP Presidential candidates have all metastasized in the same anti-science Petri dish—from “patently absurd” (Santorum), to “contrived phony mess” (Perry), to “vodoo,” “nonsense,” “hoax,” and “hoakum” (Bachmann, Bachmann, Bachmann, and, wait for it…Bachmann).

Here are six takeaways from the daylong climate-athon and the roughly 20-minute panel discussions that followed each presentation.

Personal Anecdotes Hit Home

In the telethon’s second hour, actor and environmentalist Mark Ruffalo solemnly told the viewing audience about his family’s experience with record-breaking floods: “In my area (on the Delaware River, in New York state) in the past three years, we have had a 50-year flood, a 200-year flood, a 250-year flood, and a 500-year flood. It resonates with people. Farms have been completely washed out in a flood plain that never existed before.”

The Public Can’t Comprehend Complex Science, so Convince Them the Scientists Can’t Either

This is the fiction distribution model used by top-level deniers, including the politically conservative think tank The Marshall Institute. Cofounded in 1984 by Frederick Seitz, the petroleum-industry-backed group was famously labeled “the cog in the denial machine” by Newsweek—and with good reason: Since the 1990s, it has sought to “create the appearance of a [climate change] debate when there was none”—much like how Seitz did during the 1970s and 1980s when he was hired by the tobacco industry to create and disseminate phony science purporting that tobacco wasn’t addictive and wasn’t harmful to human health.

Its Getting (Ridiculously) Hot in Here

In 2011 over 200 U.S. cities broke or tied their all-time record temperatures. This summer alone, over 6,000 daily high temperatures were broken or tied in the U.S.

Insurance Companies = Climate Allies

Reinsurance companies—the companies that insure the insurance companies—are banking on climate change. According to a slide presented during the broadcast, Munich Re, one of the largest reinsurance companies in the world has said: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge.”

In The Presence of Doubt, Toss Out a Sports Metaphor

“If the score was 97 to three in a basketball game, we wouldn’t be sitting there biting our nails, thinking who is going to win. The game would be over,” said Stephen Pekar, a geologist at Queens College during the London panel discussion. He was referring to the fact that 97 percent of scientists who regularly publish in peer-reviewed journals accept the notion of human-caused climate change.

Dont Stand Idle in the Face of Science Fiction

“There are so many steps you can take in your own life to reduce your carbon impact,” says Gore, when asked by TakePart what people can do in the days and weeks after event. “First and foremost, start with something simple: speak up. Talk about the climate crisis with everyone you know. Don’t let deniers win or control the argument. Comment on news articles and TV programs. Comment on Facebook and social media.”