The Gore-y Truth

I must take exception with Jason Mark’s denigrating reference to Al Gore in “The Climate-Wrecking Industry,” [Sept. 24/Oct. 1]. At the beginning and end of his otherwise honest piece, he accuses Gore of telling us to solve climate change by using better light bulbs. Gore has been a lifelong environmentalist. He was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Since founding the Climate Reality Project in 2006, he has trained over 12,000 people from 126 countries to be “climate leaders.” He also convinced India to opt into the Paris climate accord by cutting a deal for free US solar-panel technology, thereby preventing the construction of 400 new coal-fired power plants.

In this fight for our lives, it is often difficult to keep clear who the real enemies are. I doubt there are many statesmen or world leaders who lose more sleep over climate change than Al Gore. Let’s shine a light bulb on that.

Susan R. Dewar
blanding, utah

Yes! Let’s hold the climate wreckers responsible in all the ways Jason Mark describes. But why minimize the fact that these companies need our purchases to prosper? It means we have immense power over them. We can undo them in so many enjoyable ways: Retire the car (walk, bike). Grow food or buy from local farmers. Compost “waste.” Buy used. Fix what breaks. Cut screen time. Revel in nature. Yes, changing a few light bulbs is ho-hum, but walking in a new direction is an adventure. Eight billion people can’t live push-button lives.

Kay Marie Sather
tucson, ariz.

Jason Mark Replies

I recently saw Al Gore give a speech at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The performance was electrifying: He paced and thundered like a Baptist minister as he warned of “fire tornadoes” and decried the way that “each night on television is like hiking through the Book of Revelations.”

I share Susan Dewar’s respect for Gore, who is indisputably an elder statesman of the climate movement. Few American political leaders match his prescience and passion on climate change. And yet it’s fair to say that Gore’s prescient urgency was not met with a bold enough political imagination. Gore’s Inconvenient Truth–era theory of change simply didn’t pass the sniff test, which is why it was uninspiring. Frankly, the same could be said for much of the US environmental movement of a decade ago.

In all fairness to Gore, 2006 was a more innocent time. Hurricane Sandy hadn’t yet torn through New York City, global warming hadn’t yet steamrolled one heat record after another, and the Republican Party hadn’t yet been wholly taken over by science know-nothings. (Remember Newt Gingrich sitting on a sofa with Nancy Pelosi, promising a bipartisan effort on climate?) Al Gore was not alone in underestimating how reckless the climate wreckers would be with our one and only atmosphere.

Jason Mark
oakland, calif.