In a recent speech to a standing-room-only audience at the New York University School of Law, Gore declared, “We are moving closer to several ‘tipping points’ that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilization.” The audience cheered wildly. Presumably audiences are not cheered by the prospect of imminent catastrophe. So what is going on here?
British journalist George Monbiot, author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (Doubleday, 2006) has a theory.
“We wish our governments to pretend to act,” he writes. “We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity.”
Austerity? Hold on. Al Gore and the rest of the U.S. environmental movement never utter the word “austerity.” Their word of choice is “opportunity.” The prospect of global warming, they maintain, can serve as a much-needed catalyst to spur us to action. A large dose of political will may be required, but we need not anticipate economic pain. We can stop global warming in its tracks, expand our economy and improve our quality of life. We can, in other words, do good and do quite well. A leading environmentalist, for whom I have a great deal of admiration, summed up his position to an interviewer, “I can’t stand it when people say, ‘Taking action on climate change is going to be extremely difficult.'”
Go read the rest, it is a worthwhile read.