Sunday, August 13, 2006

Al Gore in the Conservative Crosshairs

Proving their deftness with manipulation and hypocrisy, the Conservative propoganda machine is continuing to fire on all cylinders in its relentless and manufactured assualt on Al Gore and the movie that has catapulted global warming into the forefront of human awareness.

In a USA Today column widely cited by conservative websites and blogs, Peter Schweizer compiles a largely distorted and baseless assualt on the credibility of Al Gore. Rather than recognizing the success of his impact on the global warming debate, and his personal leadership in embracing a carbon neutral lifestyle, Mr. Schweizer instead attempts to paint Mr. Gore as an environmental hypocrit by focusing on three irrelevant details of his personal consumption habits and the peripheral environmental impacts of his business and investments.

As with most right wing smear efforts, the article entirely misses the point. Al Gore is championing action against global warming, not recycling, not sustainable mining, and not the green character of the democratic party. What he is doing is advocating explicit action to curb and control carbon emissions, and he is living his life 100% consistently with this aim by going carbon neutral. This is the entire point behind Kyoto and other efforts, not to prescribe what we should and should not do or consume, but rather the leverage the power and innovation of the free market and allow businesses and citizens the maximum amount of flexibility in bringing our carbon impact under control.

The so called free market champions of the right should be embracing these efforts, but instead they are showing their true motivation and hypocrisy. The modern conservative movement does not believe in free markets, human innovation or freedom itself. What is at the heart of modern conservativism is the world's most complex and well funded propoganda machinery, whose sole purpose is to misdirect people's values into thinking we can anything without facing consequences, while bolstering the power base of the fossil fuel and military industries. And each time a threat to that structure bubbles to the surface, the full power of that propaganda machinery is turned loose against it.

Al Gore has now found his way into the crosshairs of that machinery, during a time of the current Bush administration where the right has perfected the manipulation of disinformation and the world of truth and fact has been ground in its gears. For decades, the right wing has built up grass root support, funding and a massive public relations infrastructure that can now be turned against any threat to its interests. Now the progressive community in general, and the blogging community in particular, is charged with providing the counterbalance - to build a network that can face this well tuned conservative machinery and support the true champions of progress, human freedom, and a sustainable world.

That begins by taking a stand against the systematic smearing of true leadership. Provide your feedback to the original article here, and email Peter Schweizer at peter.schweizer@stanford.edu and let him know your opinions on his style of journalism.

23 comments:

PhillTaj said...

You know that Al Gore has two huge mansions which he hasnt bothered to power with renewable energy...which is avaliable in the both areas where the houses reside?

Odiyya said...

I wonder that the main problem with the Kyoto Accord and other similar agreements isn't one of public education.

In principle, the way he powers his homes is not relevant to anything because he lives carbon neutral. This means that whatever carbon his life produces, he ensures that it is offset through other means so that the NET IMPACT of his families lifestyle is that they contribute zero additional carbon to the atmosphere.

People pushing for carbon control rarely say that all fossil fuel needs to be abandoned, that would be impossible. The point is reducing where possible and offsetting the rest to bring our CUMULATIVE IMPACT to zero. That is what balance and sustainability is about.

Also, as the article says, the Gores are in the process of moving to green energy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm a greenie myself, and this looks pretty bad for Gore. I don't see any reason to defend his 10,000 sq. ft mansion simply because he's your hero. If the CEO of Exxon lived in a hosue that big with other mansions around the country he would be blasted. This is hypocritical. I loved the movie, but don't let that skew your perception of reality.

Odiyya said...

so whats the connection to climate change if he's living carbon neutral?

Anonymous said...

Schweizer is not a journalist who has done any meaningful investigation about Gore's life and collected evidence to prove his charges, but a right-wing political hack who works for a right-wing think tank -- which, not coincidentally, has received money from ExxonMobil.
http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=43 -- and who confuses his own perceptions with reality.

Given Schweizer's history and connections it's clear that he wants to maintain the status quo with regard to fossil fuel comsumption and because he cannot refute the science of global warming he wants to kill the messenger hoping that that will kill the message as well.


But he does that with a list of falsehoods about Gore.

Gores' green commitment

The op-ed attacking former vice president Al Gore's environmental record was extremely misleading.

Former vice president Gore has worked to implement the recommendations from his movie and book, An Inconvenient Truth, and that includes his personal commitment to live a zero-carbon lifestyle.

He reduces the global-warming pollution for which he is responsible and then, each year, finances additional reductions elsewhere until his net impact on the global climate is reduced to zero.

He has long since switched to a hybrid car and was already in the process of adding solar photovoltaic units to his home before the commentary was published.

In addition, the Gores have donated 100% of all the profits from his movie and book to the fight against global-warming pollution.

The assertion by author Peter Schweizer that the Gores were swimming in Occidental stock is also off base. At Mr. Gore's request, all of his father's stock in Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum was sold almost six years ago as the estate was closed. So, although Mr. Gore has and will continue to call on his fellow Americans to do their part to combat global warming, he isn't asking of them what he isn't willing to do himself.

Rather than vilifying a person who is trying to make a difference, wouldn't it be more fruitful for Schweizer to join the effort to solve the climate crisis?

Kalee Kreider, communications director

Office of Al Gore and Tipper Gore

Nashville

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2006-08-16-gore-letters_x.htm

In a column that appeared Aug. 10 on the Forum Page, writer Peter Schweizer inaccurately stated that former vice president Al Gore receives royalties from a zinc mine on his property in Tennessee despite his environmental advocacy. He no longer does, as the mine was closed in 2003.
Page 10A

http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060817/correx17.art.htm


Peter Schweitzer, Al Gore, and hypocrisy

...

First things first: I talked to some of Gore's people today, including Kreider, about the specific charges. Suffice to say, they're false. Gore receives no royalties from the mine, which shut down in 2003. (USA Today actually printed a correction about this, way down on page 10A.) Gore owns no stock in Occidental, and never has (his father did; it was all sold over six years ago). Gore does in fact take advantage of the green power options his utility offers, and was in the process of adding photovoltaic solar cells to his house when the article came out. He pays for his own personal carbon offsets, in addition to the institutional offsets purchased by Paramount (movie distributor) and Rodale (book publisher), which make both the book and the movie completely carbon neutral.
...

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/8/17/133652/848

The reader should ask: where is your evidence, Schweizer? Why should I believe you?

Well, Schweizer of course showed no evidence to back up his claims, but apparently that's business as usual in today's political press.

Beyond the obvious lies there is Schweizer's fallacy that if you own stocks in oil companies or benefit financially from a zinc mine you cannot urge people to reduce their carbon emission without being a hypocrite.
Gore doesn't have any interest in any oil, coal or mining company nevertheless he never advocated that people should sell their stocks in companies which produce GHGs. He never advocated that people should not be in the mining business at all or that we shouldn't mine zinc (which by the way has little to do with the global warming problem). These, if done, would obviously destroy our economy -- and it would be a totally unrealistic proposal anyway.

But he is indeed doing what he has advocated in the book and the movie.
And the vast majority of Americans do not do half what he is doing in order to reduce man-made GHG emission. He has the moral authority to urge others to act like he acts.

Let Schweizer refute that - with facts for a sake of change -, if he can..

Anonymous said...

Anonymus wrote:

Sorry, I'm a greenie myself, and this looks pretty bad for Gore. I don't see any reason to defend his 10,000 sq. ft mansion simply because he's your hero. If the CEO of Exxon lived in a hosue that big with other mansions around the country he would be blasted. This is hypocritical.
---------

1.How do you know the size of that house? Were you there? Did you see the documentation? No you didn't. You jump to conclusion just because a certain right-wing liar named Schweizer told you that.
Can't you think for yourself?
I actually saw that house and contrary to the impression which Schweizer wants to plant in your head it's not that big at all. For example Sen. Frist's house is much bigger -- and was much more expensive. Phew, how could Tennessean vote for such an elitist bastard, right?

2.Other mansion around the country? Where? Could I see the evidence? Tipper's house in Virginia is not a mansion. It's an averge family home which was owned by Tipper's mother (not a rich woman by any standard), the type which tens of millions of American have.
Other than that the Gores own a condo in San Frascisco, not a house, let alone a mansion.

2. The size of his house in Tennessee is irrelevant. The entire Buckingham Palace could operate while not being responsible for one CO2 molecule in the athmosphere. It's the source of energy what matters.
Do you know Gore's energy bill?
You don't. You in fact don't have a clue how much energy he uses. But you are sure he is a hypocrite. Great logic, indeed.

They are switching to solar photovoltaic units. Hardly a technology responsible for global warming. And even if they didn't, if Gore pays for his emission in the carbon market, unlike most Americans, then he can use whatever amount of energy he wants it will not make any difference in practice -- as the vast majority of people in the world do not do anything to reduce their own emission today. It's gonna be a long process which will last long after Gore dies.

3. No I wouldn't have any problem with an Exxonman having a 10,000 sq house IF that Exxonman would do what Gore is doing and switch to renewable energy, use a hybrid, run carbon-neutral busnisses and reduce his energy consumption whenever possible and if Exxon would not stand in the way of ANY effort to reduce CO2 emission. Then as far as I'm concerned he could have a house as big as Japan.

Anonymous said...

Please explain how he can be carbon neutral.

BGood said...

So buying indulgences for excessive consumption is OK? I thought we were sitting on a ticking time-bomb. I thought the situation was so dire that we were morally obligated to do all that we could do to halt and/or reverse present climate trends. I noticed Mr Gore bought enough indulgences to get around by limo too.

Anonymous said...

Even if your energy use is carbon neutral, think how much better it would be if you actually used 50% less. Lifestyles have to be impacted for this to work. We can't buy ourselves out of this climate emergency.

Anonymous said...

I truly appreciate all that Gore has done in proselytizing stewardship of the Earth's limited resources; however, this news story does not bode well. The argument that he does not live in a large house (which I doubt based on the news pictures) does not help his credibility. He still uses 200,000 KWh/year. I live and work in a 6,000 sq/ft house and consume less than 1/10th of that amount. I use CFLs, heavy insulation, double pane glass, and even drive a hybrid - but don't label me a greenie, I'm a Republican who believes Americans should wean themselves from the OPEC teat. Just because you buy energy from a "green source" does not give someone impunity to consume as much as they want. Such unmitigated energy consumption from a utility for 2 people does not reflect well on someone calling on the world to reduce their consumption. When the messenger is tainted, the message, no matter how benevolent, is lost in the noise. I do hope Gore corrects this. This work needs someone of his stature to deliver the message.

Anonymous said...

One reason for limo use may be that normal cars can not carry the additional weight required of armored vehicles with bulletproof glass.

I am unsure if he actually uses one though. I am interested in what the energy usage is at the gore place, but I am dubious at this source. Has anyone actually seen official copy on the measurements or the energy consumption?

But even so $1000 per month is pretty low for an office building of that size. If he hosts his own web servers and runs his office from there then the energy usage is much lower than my company manages.

Anonymous said...

Previous commenter said "I live and work in a 6,000 sq/ft house and consume less than 1/10th of that amount."

You may want to check your sources first. I would be impressed if you use less than 100 dollars a month in energy for a 6k foot property. A newly build one in south is running over $500 a month according to my parent. Fox reported that he pays 14.4k, but they frame this as a monthly amount when they are talking to yearly. (Really sleazy but who expects more from them - http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,255203,00.html)

Anonymous said...

Not sure how the previous commenter came to the conclusion that I said I spend less than $100/month on power. I said that I use less than 20,000 KWh/yr for a 6,000 sq.ft house vs. Gore's 220,000 Kwh/yr. I built the house 7 years ago and have recorded my KW energy usage religiously. However, my last power bill was $114.04.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to believe that nobody can understand how carbon credits work.

Gore is carbon neutral, if we all lived like him there would be no threat and we would be able to fix the problem.

End of story.

if you want me to explain how carbon credits work feel free to e-mail me at DrNolove@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to believe that nobody can understand how carbon credits work.

Gore is carbon neutral, if we all lived like him there would be no threat and we would be able to fix the problem.

End of story.


Oh please, think about that for minute. Paying for carbon usage is not the same as carbon neutral. If you are paying for your carbon usage, carbon must by definition be used. If we all lived a carbon neutral life stayle, we would be dead, since our own respiratory systems produce CO2.

So Al Gore can pay huge amounts of money to pay the utility bills and pay someone a so called carbon credit, big deal, the bottom line is that he uses energy to heat his house, drive his car (and don't give me the line that his SUV is a hybrid, it still takes the same amount of energy to move that mass as a gas powered vehicle) and jet around the world. That energy produces CO2, end of story.

And, no, I am not paid by "Big Oil" or "Big Business."

Odiyya said...

no you're clearly not big oil, but you still don't understand what carbon neutral is. Put it this way, Al Gore and many others, are not 'carbon zero' they are 'carbon neutral'.

Nobody, anywhere in the global warming debate is telling anyone they can't emit carbon...though that is what the right wing pundits seem to think.

the idea is that you're reducing wherever possible. There is many ways of doing that - buying emission credits from companies or others is just one.

Anonymous said...

Where does Al Gore buy his carbon credits from?

If I was interested in reducing my carbon footprint to near zero, where could I buy credits?

Odiyya said...

I have not had the opportunity to do all the research on best companies to purchase offsets on, but I would check out the carbon neutral page at the David Suzuki Foundation site.

They have links there for purchasing carbon offsets and other info.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited, I just heard Al Gore is running with Arnold Schwarzenegger to be his running mate for the 2008 Presidential election.

Gore-Schwarzenegger 2008!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is all well and good to suggest that being carbon neutral is a great thing. The reality is that your still having a present day impact on the environment and buying offsets will take years to manifest the benifit. Yet in the meantime your operating in a deficit.

The only thing the offsets do is give you a less guilty conscience when your gobbling up energy and being hypocritical in your "carbon neutral" stances.

If you truely believe in the effort to reduce our impact today then act accordingly. Down size the large home, drive a new true hybrid that gets you 40+ mpg or just go full electric vehical, recycle, and use energy saving devices in your home.

All I'm saying is practice what you preach and carbon neutral is just a feel good excuse to waste energy.

Odiyya said...

excellent. then you agree. Al Gore does all of the above already - with the possible exception of "living in a smaller house". Al Gore is the former vice president of the most powerful country in the world. I'm sorry, but someone with that history, and that lifetime security detail, does not live in a 1,000 square foot bungalow.

Further, nobody ever said they needed to. Addressing global warming is about lowering your foot print, not telling people what they are allowed to do. If we all made the level of lifestyle changes gore did, the world would already have solved global warming.

Anonymous said...

"Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this "eco-friendly" dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.

A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem."

And who owns this property? That's right, our very own George W. Bush. It's the ranch in Crawford everyone talks about

Odiyya said...

indeed i've heard of this. he should be equally progressive in his national environmental policy