Jonah Goldberg

Indeed, he wants to change attitudes about government as much as he wants to preach environmentalism. Global warming is what William James called a "moral equivalent of war" that gives political officials the power to do things they could never do without a crisis. As liberal journalist James Ridgeway wrote in the early 1970s: "Ecology offered liberal-minded people what they had longed for, a safe, rational and above all peaceful way of remaking society ... (and) developing a more coherent central state."

This explains Gore's relentless talk of "consensus," his ugly moral bullying of "deniers" and, most of all, his insistence that because there's no time left to argue, everyone should do what he says.

Isn't it interesting how the same people who think "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" when it comes to the war think that dissent when it comes to global warming is evil and troglodytic?

"If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor," Gore said this week. "If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, 'Well, I read a science fiction novel that told me it's not a problem.' If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action."

True enough. But if your baby's crib is on fire, you don't run to a politician for help either.

You can tell that Gore's schtick is about something more than the moderate and manageable challenge of global warming when he talks of sacrifice. On the one hand he wants everybody to change their lifestyles dramatically. These are the sacrifices the voracious energy user Al Gore won't have to make because he can buy "carbon credits" for his many homes and his jet-setting.

But when asked this week about the enormous and unwise costs his plan would impose on the U.S. economy (according to the global consensus of economists), Gore said that his draconian emissions cuts are "going to save you money, and it's going to make the economy stronger."

Wait a second. This is the gravest crisis we've ever faced, but if we do exactly as Gore says (but not as he does), we'll get richer in the process as we heal Mother Earth of her fever? Gore's faith-based initiative is a win-win. No wonder so many people think it's mean to disagree.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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