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Editorial: From Al Gore, a grim warning

Seeing Al Gore on stage in Concord for the first time since he won the 2000 popular vote for president and lost in the electoral college, it was impossible not to wonder how things might have been different had he been president instead of George W. Bush. There would not have been debt-swelling tax cuts and perhaps no war in Iraq. The nation would have taken a leadership role to combat global climate change. Science would have been elevated by the federal government, not quashed and denigrated.

But Gore came to New Hampshire yesterday to talk not about the past but The Future, as his new book is titled, and the six major forces he believes could determine it. Gore has proven prescient in the past. He was an early proponent of the development of the internet. And he was among the first politicians to recognize that the continued burning of fossil fuels would lead to rapid climate change, a prediction that’s sadly come true. Gore’s analysis of what’s in store for the planet is, we think, grim, and correct. Altering that future for the better will require concerted action by an informed populace willing to apply political pressure on political candidates and Congress.

The first force for change Gore calls “Earth Inc.” Companies that produce goods and offer services are now connected globally but are rootless. Workers compete not just with rivals in nations where labor is cheaper but also with robots in factories all over the world.

The second force, The Global Mind, occurred when corporations, customers and every person with a cell phone or computer could communicate, access vast stores of information and connect in ways that have created new things (like social networks) and killed old ones (like travel agents and postal services).

Third is a shift in the balance of international power away from the United States and toward Asia – and the absence of global leadership that has created. The vacuum has made it harder to address threats like climate change. Gore says efforts to regain a leadership role must be made.

Fourth is the continuous growth of the human population, which took 200,000 years to hit 1 billion and added a billion in just the first 13 years of this century. That growth is putting a tremendous strain on resources, driving the extinction of species, damaging the environment and fueling unrest.

Fifth is “the reinvention of life and death” – scientific advances that already allow genetically modified goats to produce spider silk in their milk and could soon allow parents to select their child’s eye color and other attributes. Death will be staved off by science and the ability to tailor-make replacement organs and other technologies.

And sixth is climate change, the crisis Gore has been warning about for nearly four decades. Each day, Gore says, the burning of fossil fuels sends energy into the atmosphere that’s equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. As last year’s heat, drought, wildfires, floods and storms proved, the effects of climate change are arriving with a vengeance.

Bending the curve of what looks to be a bleak future will require cooperation and concerted action, starting with the United States. That action is being thwarted by the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few; Gore notes that the wealth of the six heirs of the Walmart-founding Walton brothers exceeds the combined wealth of the 100 million Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Democracy, Gore writes, has been “hacked” by corporations and billionaires who use their riches to buy outcomes in Congress and elect candidates of their choosing.

Somehow, in the face of this horrible prognosis, Gore remains an optimist. He believes that if enough people can learn the facts and be stirred to act, they can change, and like Ebenezer Scrooge, alter what would otherwise come to pass. We can only hope so.

Legacy Comments18

Al Gore lives the high life. Gas guzzling limos, why isn't he traveling in a Prius? Private jets guzzling tons of fuel instead of flying coach. One of the highest electrical bills in his home state, burning tons of fuel. Not only that, he has quadrupled his net worth in the carbon offset scam, making money on nothing. He is a raving lunatic and his only skill in life now seems to be the preacher of doom and gloom. It is not, however, surprising at all that Concord residents are flocking to follow him like sheep.

Do I detect a note of "class envy" in these comments? Whatever happened to that great defender of all things possible, and of anything goes for those who are rich and fatuous? It must be the fact Al Gore is regarded by those of a certain ideological stripe, and like FDR before him, as a traitor to his class. In fact, there is little accurate about your post. Gore's McMansion may be a monument to excess, but it is LEED certified, and has numerous energy efficient features. His utility bill is high because he pays a premium for "green energy" with carbon offsets--an example of putting his money where his mouth is. Still, nothing is too good for some. They'd have Al going off to live as a hermit--because they think that's the lifestyle he envisions for the rest of us. Which isn't true either.

Bruce, I see attack on the debater - not the issue. Ad hom attacks are the lowest form of debate.

Thanks for your support. This is an every day occurrence and it is a constant refusal to discuss points with intellectual honesty. Statistics are only as good as those who compile them, they can be manipulated and spun. However, ideology and philosophy is another subject. Intellectual honestly would suggest that people should just tell us why they think they way in which they do. Instead they attack beliefs with data to prove a point and stop the debate. Anyway, thanks.

Maybe...but only in the first two lines of the post, and quite mild. But if you're looking for regular ad hom attacks, conservative posters on this site--members of the Carp Per Diem brigade, are regular practitioners of such tactics as name-calling/ad-hom, red-herring, post-hoc fallacies, etc. You can look it up. Or at least you could when posters' archives were readily available for viewing. Here's to hoping they return soon.

Well I would imagine there will be another Report To Readers on this editorial. No mention of Al Jazeera, no mention of the times that Mr Gore's Truths were proven to be false, and no mention of the fact his home in TN costs 30 grand alone in utilities every year. You know folks watch your carbon footprint, but I do not have to. I would imagine the Report To Readers will state in their defense that they were there to report a book signing, not actually ask any questions. But of course Gore did not answer any questions. Why would he?

Al Jazeera will be a welcome voice of diversity to the U.S. market, as this move brings it broader access to us. It has some of the best and most accurate coverage of climate change--unlike say, Faux News, which typically distorts its coverage on those rare occasions it covers the topic at all. Al Jazeera's is also in a position to offer a greater diversity of news and opinion on the middle east, something we desperately need here in the U.S. As for your claims regarding "Mr. Gore's Truth": if you are referring to "An Inconvenient Truth", there were a very few minor errors in the movie, but these did not detract from the overall accuracy or truthfulness of the movie. You could look it up--in other than a denier source.

I had to laugh. Al Jazeera is a "welcome voice of diversity". It represents that you folks loathe, a society and mindset represented by "religion", true belief in something bigger, a higher GOD. Like RTV,. Russian propaganda, it will feed absolutists and low information voters like yourself looking for absolutes that reinforce your narrow views. And climate change? Do you think that perhaps they play to that because it cripples our society and prosperity. As if those in the Middle East care at all about global warming. In Al Gore's case, his "truth" in truly "inconvenient".

Itsa raises an interesting philosophical point here: Is it possible to be both an absolutist and a relativist at the same time? In the past, he's railed against "cultural relativists" whom he equates with "liberals" and "socialists" and blamed "cultural relativism" for the decline in religious belief and morality. Now he makes the accusation of "looking for absolutes that reinforce...narrow views." Is this not a contradiction? Stay tuned for the next post on the topic of "Philosophy for Low-Information Voters"--they're the ones who elected Obama, btw, instead of following Faux News and Karl Rove--the high priests of "high information" voters.

Al Gore is a big fat hypocrite. And lately, the emphasis is on the FAT part.

Thinking back to the 2000 elections, I proudly voted for the "compassionate conservative" Bush over the "holier-than-thou" Gore. Twelve years wiser I, along with probably millions of others, wish I could take that vote back. There is nothing written in this column that isn't true. The only thing I disagree with is the optimism that we can change course. In America there is more prestige and importance in making money than in trying to improve our environment or society.

Yeah Al Gore knows a lot about making money and a lot about creating a false narrative to make that money. His truths have been proven time and gain that he is wrong. When questioned on his truths, he has the person thrown out by his thugs. When he uses info he changes facts. Now he will take no questions on selling out to the Brotherhood to make bucks. He is the biggest sham artist. Prays on folks who are uninformed and too lazy to check his facts. Does this to make his billions.

Did you personally vet each of your assertions for accuracy and truthfulness? Sources? Proof?

My point was not that Al Gore is a perfect human being; it was that in hindsight he was a better alternative. I was duped by the Bush/Rove marketing machine. What I find troubling is your repeated assertion that folks who consider themselves liberals or even those who voted for a Democrat are low information voters. Is it not possible that a person can look at all the same information you have looked at and come to a different conclusion from you? The nine intelligent, well-informed justices of our Supreme Court do this on almost every case.

Ah, the what-ifs of history...if only. We can only imagine what else might have been different. The editorial could have mentioned 9-11. That terrible day might never have happened, had the Bush/Cheney/Rice/Wolfowitz Neocon tribe paid heed to Richard Clarke and the CIA, and the ample warnings of an impending terror attack in half a dozen or more intelligence briefings over the 6 months prior. Instead, they were obsessed with Iraq from the moment they took office. We'll never know if 9-11 might have been prevented. We do know that few were paying attention to the possibility at the time it happened. Our response was 2 wars that will cost this nation upwards of $5-6 trillion, to say nothing of the death and destruction visited--all likely for naught in the long run.

Hey Bruce, what about the 8 years Clinton was in office and Clarke was advising him about the terrorists. Everybody knows that Clinton had 2 chances to get Bin Laden and declined. Bush was in office 8 months when we were hit. Clarke's responses about Clinton are that he wanted to do more but was obstructed by the CIA, Defense Dept etc. There are many articles and testimony from folks who worked under Clinton about what he did and did not do. Just like a leftie. Clinton is not held accountable for the times he declined on getting Bin laden. He had 8 years. DAH

Your claims that Clinton had "8 years" and "2 chances to get OBL and declined" is untrue--as those claims "everybody knew" often are. Bin Laden in 1996 was regarded as a financier of terror, but not as a mastermind. And the Justice Dept. had decided it did not have enough evidence to indict him then. In 1998, when it was determined he was a terrorist threat and mastermind, Clinton launched a cruise missile attack on his camp in Afghanistan. Dah?

Gore cites America hacked by big corps and big money - right after he sell's his station to Al Jazzera - really?

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