Next month, the world will get a chance to enjoy some brazen hypocrisy. Former Vice President Al Gore will speak in Oslo as he accepts his Nobel Peace Prize. No doubt he’ll offer plenty of hot rhetoric about the dangers of global warming, and warn listeners they need to act -- right now -- to save our fragile planet.
But how will Gore get to Norway? Maybe he’ll take a wind-powered Clipper ship and then climb aboard a dogsled to go the rest of the way. But if that’s the case, he’d better leave immediately.
No, it’s far more likely he’ll fly in, bringing a sizable entourage of family, friends, security officers and so forth. Gore, you see, leaves a large “carbon footprint” wherever he goes, even when he stays home. According to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, his Nashville house uses more electricity in a month than the average American home uses in a year. In the introduction to his book “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore writes, “The climate crisis also offers us the chance to experience what very few generations in history have had the privilege of knowing: a generational mission; the exhilaration of a compelling moral purpose; a shared and unifying cause; the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict that so often stifle the restless human need for transcendence; the opportunity to rise.”
Still, Gore would be doing all of us a favor if, instead of jetting off to Europe, he’d stay home and read Bjorn Lomborg’s new book “Cool It,” the skeptical environmentalist’s guide to global warming. Lomborg systematically dismantles Gore’s argument that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the biggest threat facing mankind, and that humanity must focus all our attention on fighting it.
Let’s begin with Gore’s “generational mission.” Why is it that virtually none of the thousands of generations of humans that have come and gone have had a “mission?” Well, it’s because we’re one of the first generations that hasn’t had to worry about our day-to-day survival. From the dawn of time right up into the 20th century, many if not most people lived in fear of starvation.
As recently as 1945, with the U.S. involved in a battle to the death with the Axis powers, more than a third of draftees were rejected as physically unfit for service, many because of malnutrition. Yet today, we no longer have to worry about where our next meal will come from, so we have the luxury of focusing on far-off problems, such as what the world’s temperature may be in the year 2100.