Mooney on Gore's Message and Impact

In a new regular column over at DesmogBlog, Chris Mooney elaborates on the arguments first offered here. We should applaud Gore, writes Chris, but we also need to draw on data and evidence in order to accurately evaluate his impact and consider what else needs to be done:

However, there's one arena in which we seriously ought to criticize the Gore communications juggernaut--it just isn't the realm of scientific accuracy. Rather, the true issue is the one that Matthew Nisbet has been highlighting, and what I might term the "Gore paradox": Gore is our top mass media communicator on climate change, and yet Gore turns off many audiences that we definitely need to reach. This fact puts anyone who cares about the climate issue in an awkward position: On the one hand, we must applaud Gore for drawing dramatic new attention to the crisis; and yet at the same time, we must lament that too many Americans distrust Gore and simply won't listen to him.

Because while it's funny as hell to talk about "Gore Derangement Syndrome," the truth is that we need the people who currently suffer from this malady to join the climate cause. And Gore, because of his immense political baggage, because of the many preconceptions that persist about him, seems unable to reach them.

The data on this are clear and stark. As Nisbet explains: "Despite Gore's breakthrough success with Inconvenient Truth, public opinion today is little different from what it was in May 2006 when the movie was released." Gore is mobilizing the base, and Gore is generating tremendous media attention, but he doesn't seem to be winning converts. A huge gap still exists between the two parties' rank and file in terms of how seriously they take the global warming threat.

And that should hardly be surprising: As Nisbet further notes, thanks largely to our partisan politics and in particular to the bruising 2000 election and Florida recall, only half of the U.S. public has a favorable opinion of Gore, while only 24 percent of Republicans think he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. If you think about it, that makes perfect sense: Millions of conservative Americans spent the 2000 election season bitching about Gore on a daily basis, and then vigorously pulled their levers against him, and then bitched some more about why he wouldn't step down and let Bush be president during the Florida recall.

Fair or unfair, right or wrong, on some level Gore may never be able to overcome that political baggage.

That's the Gore paradox, and it may be the Gore tragedy as well. He is awesome, he is a hero, he should have been president--and yet thanks to our goddamn partisan politics, when it comes to communicating on global warming he still may not be good enough.



Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

He was a very good boy.

Image source: Historic Environment Scotland
Surprising Science
  • A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
  • It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
  • The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Keep reading Show less