Fresh from winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his climate change evangelism, Al Gore is apparently considering an invitation from a prominent environmental group to engage in civil disobedience against the construction of new coal-fired power plants.
Rainforest Action Network issued the invitation to the former Vice President, according to RAN executive director Michael Brune. The San Francisco-based group has a twenty-year history of protesting against destructive logging practices and other causes of climate change; it specializes in targeting corporations as much as governments.
"We came across a quote from Gore in an interview with [New York Times] columnist Nicholas Kristof back in August, saying he didn't understand, quote, 'Why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them constructing new coal-fired power plants,'" said Brune. "We thought, 'Great idea!' That's the kind of activism we do at RAN. So we decided to invite Gore to join us."
Gore's office confirmed that the former Vice President had received RAN's invitation and was considering it, though no decision has been made.
"He has not accepted any of their offers to date," Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, said of the RAN offer. Kreider did not deny that this phrasing leaves open the possibility of Gore saying yes down the road.
RAN plans a national day of protest against coal on November 16, according to Brune.
If Gore did end up getting arrested during a protest against a coal-fired power plant, it would make front-page news throughout the world and put a spotlight on what some climate scientists and activists consider the single most important priority in the fight against climate change: halting the use of coal as the world's top source of electricity production. Coal is the most carbon-intensive of the three major fossil fuels (the others are oil and natural gas) whose combustion produces most of the carbon dioxide that is helping to raise temperatures and change climatic patterns on earth.
NASA scientist James Hansen, the man who first warned during testimony before the US Senate in 1988 that man-made greenhouse gas emissions were warming the planet, has called for a complete ban on new coal-fired power plants "until we have the technology to capture and sequester the CO