Al Gore’s motives for addressing global warming were challenged by a Tennessee congresswoman on the very day that the New York Times reported that a lobby group for the fossil fuel industry covered up in the 1990s what its own scientists were saying—greenhouse gases cause global warming.
The misnamed lobby group, Global Climate Coalition, sowed public doubt about the science of global warming.
The Times cited British environmentalist George Monbiot, who said that the fossil fuel industry “didn’t have to win the argument to succeed” in blunting action on climate change. Instead they had “only to cause as much confusion as possible.”
By suppressing scientific opinion, the fossil fuel industry succeeded in creating confusion.
Its only motive for misleading the public was greed. The fossil fuel industry—oil, coal and automakers—censured science for the sake of corporate gain.
Gore, on the other hand, has listened to science and sought the common good.
Without science on her side, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) had only one course to perpetuate the pathetic pattern of doubt creation about global warming: question Gore’s integrity.
“I think it is really important that no suspicion or shadow fall on the foremost advocate of climate change legislation. So I wanted to give you the opportunity to kind of clear the air about your motives and maybe set the record straight for some of your former constituents,” Blackburn said to Gore at the hearings of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
She asked about a capital investment firm named Kleiner Perkins that could benefit from legislation to redress global warming, a firm in which Gore readily said he was a partner.
Blackburn asked if Gore would personally benefit from the legislation under consideration.
“I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us,” answered Gore. “And I have invested in it. But every penny that I have made, I’ve put right into a nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge.”
Gore continued, “If you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don’t know me.”
Blackburn responded disingenuously that she was not making accusations but asking questions that have been asked of her. She claimed she was trying to get clarity.
“I understand exactly what you’re doing, Congresswoman. Everybody here does,” said Gore.
Gore repeated that every penny he earned from his climate change work went into a nonprofit.
“I’ve been willing to put my money where my mouth is,” said Gore.
Of course, what Blackburn was doing was what the fossil fuel industry did with its misnamed lobby group. She wanted to create doubt to blunt social and economic change. Discrediting Gore was her way to create confusion.
That tactic is dishonest. Dishonesty appears to be the way of the global warming deniers. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has done the same thing with his deceptive report about so-called prominent scientists, who reject the scientific consensus about man-made global warming. Christian Right leaders employ the same strategy over and over again when they use the discredited claim of global cooling.
From Adam and Eve to Ananias and Sapphira, we learn an ancient truth from the biblical witness that nothing good comes from deception and dishonesty.
It’s time for the White House and Congress to bypass today’s authors of confusion—Blackburn, Inhofe and Christian Right leaders. The global good demands it.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.