In a column titled, “The Economic Uses of Al Gore“, The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins, Jr. compares Al Gore’s economic motives versus his stated sincerity to solve the “climate crisis”:
Last spring Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked Al Gore during a House hearing if his investments in green energy meant he would benefit personally from cap and trade.
“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,” Mr. Gore responded (and, yes, according to two reporters present, he sighed).
Mr. Gore is quite right that his arguments should be judged on their merits, not on his investments. He’s wrong to think his investments are irrelevant, and, even more, that sincerity is dispositive of anything. Sincerity is no substitute for disinterestedness.
Here are a couple questions: When so much of his position and prestige are invested in a predicted climate crisis, is Mr. Gore likely to be open to contrary evidence? Is he likely to be particularly fastidious about whether proposed steps will actually have an effect on global warming if they also happen to benefit his investments?
Ms. Blackburn’s challenge was in a sense late. Mr. Gore long ago jumped over to the side where salesmanship, by whatever means, was the trumping priority. As far back as 1989, he insisted there was “no dispute worthy of recognition” about the danger of manmade climate change. By now, he titularly heads a vast establishment with a stake in one side of the argument.
Notice, for instance, after a decade in which the earth appears to have stopped warming and even cooled, that global warming advocates have rushed to embrace a computer simulation that predicts this cooling (in retrospect, of course) and allows for indefinite future cooling, even while assuring that the world is destined to face disastrous warming anyway. Isn’t this what forecasters of doom have done since time immemorial when their deadlines for doom haven’t been met?
Mr. Gore’s own predictions of a climate catastrophe have not lessened, but every time he opens his mouth, the costs of meeting the emergency become easier and easier to swallow. They aren’t even costs anymore; as he says in his new book, they are “profits.”
All policy salesmanship naturally defaults toward the proposition of huge benefits and negligible costs (i.e., free lunchism). Isn’t that where Al Gore is today?
Mr. Gore notes that he has poured his own money into two climate action nonprofits, but, whatever his self-felt motives, aren’t these nonprofits functionally propaganda arms (i.e., advertising) that benefit his for-profit investments?
Then, after going over some of the most recent science that runs contrary to Al Gore’s position, Jenkins concludes:
…we have been convinced that the scientific questions are interesting and irrelevant, since it was never in the cards that Western societies (or Brazil or India or China) would sacrifice economic growth for the uncertain benefits of fighting climate change. Unable to do anything meaningful about climate change, policy would therefore default to satisfying the demand of organized interests for climate pork.
Isn’t that, however much he may be distracted by feelings of sincerity, exactly the economic function of Mr. Gore today?
Read it all at The Wall Street Journal.
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