Al Gore Sells Out

Al Gore Sells Out
November 21, 2007

Joseph Bast

Joseph L. Bast c.v. Joseph Bast is president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, a 29-year-old... (read full bio)

On November 12, former vice president Al Gore announced he is joining a venture capital firm that seeks to cash in on global warming alarmism.

Gore resurrected his career by persuading millions of people that a 1 degree warming of the Earth’s temperature over the past century was man-made and portends a global catastrophe. Gore already has used global warming to become a very wealthy man, charging $200,000 and more to give speeches on global warming and steering investments to a firm he partly owns that sells worthless “carbon credits.” He stands to make millions of dollars more in his new position.

It all begs the question: Was Gore in it just for the money all along?

Gore surely knew from the outset that global warming brought together two extremely affluent sectors of American society -- professional environmentalists, who Chronicle of Philanthropy reports raised more than $6 billion in charitable gifts in 2006, and major corporations seeking government subsidies to produce energy from otherwise-unmarketable sources such as wind, solar, and ethanol.

Both sectors were quick to see in global warming a PR tool that could raise billions of dollars from gullible consumers and taxpayers. They filled Gore’s pockets with cash and underwrote, if the value of all the free “earned media” is included, a billion-dollar-a-year media campaign to rescue him from obscurity. Gore never shied away from enriching himself as the campaign went along, as vividly demonstrated by his energy-gorging homes and jet-setting lifestyle.

Being in it only for the money would also explain Gore’s remarkable immunity to criticism and doubt. Gore wasn’t afraid to debate his foes when he was a politician. But as the world’s leading advocate of global warming alarmism, Gore has refused to debate his critics, despite repeated public challenges from a long list of qualified critics and even a million-dollar ad campaign by my organization, The Heartland Institute, asking him to debate.

Apparently, no one inside the Gore camp -- a group that unfortunately includes many journalists -- finds this even the slightest bit odd.

It was also odd that Gore issued no apologies or corrections when prominent scientists pointed out errors in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and book by the same title. The Internet is cluttered with rebuttals from authoritative sources, but nary a word of rebuttal or concession from Gore or evidence that he’s changed his stock presentations to take the facts into account.

The British High Court recently found Gore’s film contained at least nine errors and exaggerations so egregious they contradict the United Nations’ claims on the subject (no mean feat, since the UN anchors the alarmist corner of the global scientific debate). And those errors weren’t trivial. They were exactly the allegations Gore makes that turn global warming from an obscure scientific issue into a potential global crisis: that it is man-made, will cause flooding, is killing wildlife, and so on.

If Gore weren’t in it just for the money, he surely acted is if he were. And now his decision to join a venture capital firm to explicitly profit, enormously, from public concern and public policies that he helped create seems to prove it.

Gore’s cashing in on alarmism is ironic, because he claims repeatedly that anyone who disagrees with him has sold out to oil companies. If funding is a source of bias or makes a source unreliable, then Gore must plainly be the most biased and unreliable voice in the global warming debate.

The claim that global warming “skeptics” are beholden to the oil or coal industries is utterly without merit, as a long list of prominent scholars starting with Richard Lindzen at MIT and John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville attests. Think tanks that have confronted Gore’s lies and exaggerations, including my organization, The Heartland Institute, receive trivial amounts of industry support -- less than 5 percent of our annual budget -- far less than what they spend on the topic, and pennies on the dollar compared to what rent-seeking businesses give to global warming alarmists.

Gore’s opportunism ought to send a cautionary signal to the people he duped along the way to fame and fortune. What a pity that many of them still don’t get it ... won’t ever get it, even as they hand over their hard-earned money to Gore’s business partners and give up their freedoms to Gore’s former political partners.

Joseph Bast (jbast@heartland.org) is president of The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago, and publisher of Environment & Climate News.

Joseph Bast

Joseph L. Bast c.v. Joseph Bast is president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, a 29-year-old... (read full bio)