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Al Gore writes: "One of the problems that the Congress is encountering as it tries to raise the debt ceiling is that a significant number of Republican and Tea Party Members of Congress apparently hold the view that there actually would not be consequences for global markets or the US economy if we defaulted. The same problem is found in the debate over the climate crisis."

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks about climate change during a visit to the Philippines. (photo: Aaron Favila/AP)
Former Vice President Al Gore speaks about climate change during a visit to the Philippines. (photo: Aaron Favila/AP)



Debt Ceiling, Meet the Climate Crisis

By Al Gore, Reader Supported News

26 July 11

 

What do the debt ceiling and the climate crisis have in common?

ne of the problems that the Congress is encountering as it tries to raise the debt ceiling is that a significant number of Republican and Tea Party Members of Congress apparently hold the view that there actually would not be consequences for global markets or the US economy if we defaulted. This view is, of course, absurd - but it illustrates a larger problem. Dramatic changes in the way we communicate with one another about issues affecting the common good have diminished the role of reason and fact-based analysis, encouraging ideological extremists to construct their own alternative version of reality and defend it against fact-based reasoning.

The same problem is found in the debate over the climate crisis. Notwithstanding the unanimous opinion of every National Academy of Science in every major country in the world, every professional scientific society in fields related to the study of the climate crisis and 97 percent of climate scientists in the world, many ideologues cling to the view that these facts are wrong, that scientists are perpetrating a hoax, that they are either greedy for more research dollars or secretly promoting the expansion of government, and that authorities such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are more reliable than the global scientific community in analyzing the impact of global warming pollution.

Two months ago, I wrote an article in Rolling Stone, linked here, that dealt with this issue:

"In the same way, because the banks had their way with Congress when it came to gambling on unregulated derivatives and recklessly endangering credit markets with subprime mortgages, we still have almost double-digit unemployment, historic deficits, Greece and possibly other European countries teetering on the edge of default, and the threat of a double-dip recession. Even the potential default of the United States of America is now being treated by many politicians and too many in the media as yet another phony wrestling match, a political game. Are the potential economic consequences of a US default 'real'? Of course they are! Have we gone completely nuts?

"We haven't gone nuts - but the 'conversation of democracy' has become so deeply dysfunctional that our ability to make intelligent collective decisions has been seriously impaired. Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square - and the quality of our democratic discourse - to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world. But we are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence - when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion - the public interest is severely damaged.

"That is exactly what is happening with US decisions regarding the climate crisis. The best available evidence demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the reckless spewing of global-warming pollution in obscene quantities into the atmospheric commons is having exactly the consequences long predicted by scientists who have analyzed the known facts according to the laws of physics."
 

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+30 # Activista 2011-07-26 20:18
Agree with Gore - the education level of politicians is miserable. Populism and marketing - to win power/election - but there is no substance.
 
 
-32 # lastethicallawyer 2011-07-26 21:12
Al Gore... I am sure that the OED shows his picture at the entry for FRAUD!!!

Generation Investment Management
 
 
+1 # brianf 2011-07-27 06:35
looks like spam
 
 
+9 # StPete 2011-07-26 21:39
More magical thinking... more wishing inconvenient consequences to go away. Sadly, the disasters we fear may be the only cure for willful stupidity.
 
 
+12 # brianf 2011-07-27 06:37
While that may be true in the area of the deficit and debt ceiling, the "cure" for willfully ignoring global warming or not doing enough to stop it will be death, perhaps of our entire species.
 
 
+8 # garee peters 2011-07-27 03:18
...a default will make Katrina look like an overflowing bathtub...and it may take that to learn the lesson of the price of "selection of facts that one chooses to believe" as opposed to observable, objective facts, tested by the common sense of rational debate that has carried the day in this country for 240 years.The Russian proverb comes to mind: "When money talks, the truth is silent"...One wonders if the Tea Partiers are preparing their denials of responsibility, in advance of the destruction of wealth that will happen in a default...can't wait...
 
 
+3 # MidwestTom 2011-07-27 03:53
The same argument can be made about voters. Do you really want someone totally disconnected from the ongoing daily news and environment choosing your elected officials?
 
 
+11 # PGreen 2011-07-27 04:41
Unfortunately, we have the elite, the rich, wealthy (what have you) and their executive handlers waging a class war on the rest of society. This has led to a profound public distrust of all elite statements, including scientific ones. Is this surprising? If we can deescalate this class war and return to economic equality as a fundamental baseline of our economy, then we will likely see a return to relative sanity. Though this deescalation to reasonable levels may be almost as difficult as solving global warming-- they both involve confrontations with ideological extremists.
 
 
+11 # brianf 2011-07-27 06:34
Maybe "we" haven't completely gone nuts, but the Tea Partiers and global warming deniers are at the very least irrational and expert at ignoring reality. Letting people like that have any influence on decisions that affect us all is extremely risky. The deniers are far more dangerous than all the terrorists in the world combined and multiplied many times over.
 
 
+5 # pbbrodie 2011-07-27 11:39
"The deniers are far more dangerous than all the terrorists in the world combined and multiplied many times over."
They aren't far more dangerous than all of the terrorists combined, they ARE terrorists and holding the world hostage to their ideology.
 
 
+6 # Diane Johnson 2011-07-27 06:38
when the last tree has been cut, the last fish caught, and the last blade of grass die becausse the economic powers have brainwashed themelves and public... even the rich and powerful will be fighting over the last scraps of food... Only then will they see the truth. Head for the hills!
 

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