RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Gore writes: "Our first priority should be to restore our ability to communicate clearly and candidly with one another in a broadly accessible forum about the difficult choices we have to make."

Former Vice President Al Gore. (photo: Mario Anzuoni)
Former Vice President Al Gore. (photo: Mario Anzuoni)

We're in Trouble

By Al Gore, Salon

10 February 10


Excerpted from "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change."

ore than 1,800 years ago, the last of Rome's "Five Good Emperors," Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, wrote, "Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." His advice is still sound, though soon after his reign the Roman Empire began the long process of dissolution that culminated in its overthrow 300 years later.

Arming ourselves with the "weapons of reason" is necessary but insufficient. The emergence of the Global Mind presents us with an opportunity to strengthen reason-based decision making, but the economic and political systems within which we implement even the wisest decisions are badly in need of repair. Confidence in both market capitalism and representative democracy has fallen because both are obviously in need of reform. Fixing both of these macro-tools should be at the top of the agenda for all of us who want to help shape humanity's future.

Our first priority should be to restore our ability to communicate clearly and candidly with one another in a broadly accessible forum about the difficult choices we have to make. That means building vibrant and open "public squares" on the Internet for the discussion of the best solutions to emerging challenges and the best strategies for seizing opportunities. It also means protecting the public forum from dominance by elites and special interests with agendas that are inconsistent with the public interest.

It is especially important to accelerate the transition of democratic institutions to the Internet. The open access individuals once enjoyed to the formerly dominant print-based public forum fostered the spread of democracy and elevated the role of reason and fact-based public discourse. But the massive shift in the last third of the twentieth century from print to television as the primary medium of communication stifled democratic discourse and gave preferential access to those with wealth and power. This shift eclipsed the role of reason, diminished the importance of collective searches for the best available evidence, and elevated the role of money in politics - particularly in the United States - thereby distorting our search for truth and degrading our ability to reason together.

The same is true for the news media. The one-way, advertiser-dominated, conglomerate-controlled television medium has been suffocating the free flow of ideas necessary for genuine self-determination. In 2012, for example, it was nothing short of bizarre when the United States held its quadrennial presidential election in the midst of epic climate-related disasters - including a widespread drought affecting more than 65 percent of the nation, historic fires spreading across the West, and an epic hybrid hurricane and nor'easter that shut down large portions of New York City for the second time in two years - with not a single question about the climate crisis from any member of the news media in any of the campaign debates.

The profit-driven blurring of the line between entertainment and news, the growing influence of large advertisers on the content of news programs, and the cynical distortion of news narratives by political operatives posing as news executives have all degraded the ability of the Fourth Estate to maintain sufficient integrity and independent judgment to adequately perform their essential role in democracy.

The Internet offers a welcome opportunity to reverse this degradation of democracy and reestablish a basis for healthy self-governance once again. Although there is as yet no standard business model that yields sufficient profit to support high-quality investigative journalism on the Internet, the expansion of bandwidth to accommodate more and higher-quality video on the Internet may soon make profitable business models viable. In addition, the use of hybrid public/private models for the support of excellence in Internet-based journalism should be vigorously pursued.

The loss of privacy and data security on the Internet must be quickly addressed. The emergent "stalker economy," based on the compilation of large digital files on individuals who engage in e-commerce, is exploitive and unacceptable. Similarly, the growing potential for the misuse by governments of even larger digital files on the personal lives of their citizens - including the routine interception of private communications - poses a serious threat to liberty and must be stopped. Those concerned about the quality of freedom in the digital age must make new legal protections for privacy a priority.

The new digital tools that provide growing access to the Global Mind should be exploited in the rapid development of personalized approaches to health care, what is now being called "precision medicine," and of self-tracking tools to reduce the cost and increase the efficacy of these personalized approaches to medicine. The same Internet-empowered precision should be applied to the speedy development of a "circular economy," characterized by much higher levels of recycling, reuse, and efficiency in the use of energy and materials.

Capitalism, like democracy, must also be reformed. The priority for those who agree that it is crucial to restore the usefulness of capitalism as a tool for reclaiming control of our destiny should be to insist upon full, complete, and accurate measurements of value. So-called externalities that are currently ignored in standard business accounting must be fully integrated into market calculations. For example, it is simply no longer acceptable to pretend that large streams of harmful pollution do not exist where profit and loss statements are concerned.

Global warming pollution, in particular, should carry a price. Placing a tax on CO2 is the place to start. The revenue raised could be returned to taxpayers, or offset by equal reductions in other taxes - on payrolls, for example. Placing a steadily declining limit on emissions and allowing the trading of emission rights within those limits is an alternative that would also work. For those nations worried about the competitive consequences of acting in the absence of global agreement, the rules of the World Trade Organization allow the imposition of border adjustments on goods from countries that do not put a tax on carbon pollution.

The principles of sustainability - which are designed, above all, to ensure that we make intelligent choices to improve our circumstances in the present without degrading our prospects in the future - should be fully integrated into capitalism. The ubiquitous incentives built into capitalism - which embody the power of capitalism to unleash human ingenuity and productivity - should be carefully designed to ensure that they are aligned with the goals that are being pursued. Compensation systems, for example, should be carefully scrutinized by investors, managers, boards of directors, consumers, regulators, and all stakeholders in every enterprise - no matter its size.

Our current reliance on gross domestic product (GDP) as the compass by which we guide our economic policy choices must be reevaluated. The design of GDP - and the business accounting systems derived from it - is deeply flawed and cannot be safely used as a guide for economic policy decisions. For example, natural resources should be subject to depreciation and the distribution of personal income should be included in our evaluation of whether economic policies are producing success or failure. Capitalism requires acceptance of inequality, of course, but "hyper" levels of inequality - such as those now being produced - are destructive to both capitalism and democracy.

The value of public goods should also be fully recognized - not systematically denigrated and attacked on ideological grounds. In an age when robosourcing and outsourcing are systematically eliminating private employment opportunities at a rapid pace, the restoration of healthy levels of macroeconomic demand is essential for sustainable growth. The creation of more public goods - in health care, education, and environmental protection, for example - is one of the ways to provide more employment opportunities and sustain economic vibrancy in the age of Earth Inc.

Sustainability should also guide the redesign of agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The reckless depletion of topsoil, groundwater reserves, the productivity of our forests and oceans, and genetic biodiversity must be halted and reversed.

In order to stabilize human population growth, we must prioritize the education of girls, the empowerment of women, the provision of ubiquitous access to the knowledge and techniques of fertility management, and the continued raising of child survival rates. The world now enjoys a durable consensus on the efficacy of these four strategies - used in combination - to bring about the transition to smaller families, lower death rates, lower birth rates, and stabilized population levels. Wealthy countries must support these efforts in their own self-interest. Africa should receive particular attention because of its high fertility rate and threatened resource base.

Two other demographic realities should also command priority attention: The continued urbanization of the world's population should be seen as an opportunity to integrate sustainability into the design and construction of low-carbon, low-energy buildings, the use of sustainable architecture and design to make urban spaces more efficient and productive, and the redesign of urban transportation systems to minimize both energy use and pollution flows. And second, the aging of populations in the advanced economies - and in some emerging markets, like China - should be seen as an opportunity for the redesign of health strategies and income support programs in order to take into account the higher dependency ratios that threaten the viability of using payroll taxes as the principal source of funding for these programs.

With respect to the revolution in the life sciences, we should place priority on the development of safeguards against unwise permanent alterations in the human gene pool. Now that we have become the principal agents of evolution, it is crucially important to recognize that the pursuit of short-term goals through human modification can be dangerously inconsistent with the long-term best interests of the human species. As yet, however, we have not developed adequate criteria - much less decision-making protocols - for use in guiding such decisions. We must do so quickly.

Similarly, the dominance of the profit motive and corporate power in decisions about the genetic modification of animals and plants- particularly those that end up in the food supply-are beginning to create unwise risks. Commonsense procedures to analyze these risks according to standards that are based on the protection of the long-term public interest are urgently needed.

The continued advance of technological development will bring many blessings, but human values must be preserved as we evaluate the deployment and use of powerful new technologies. Some advances warrant caution and careful oversight: the proliferation of nanomaterials, synthetic life-forms, and surveillance drones are examples of new technologies rife with promise and potential, but in need of review and safeguards.

There are already several reckless practices that should be immediately stopped: the sale of deadly weapons to groups throughout the world; the use of antibiotics as a livestock growth stimulant; drilling for oil in the vulnerable Arctic Ocean; the dominance of stock market trading by supercomputers with algorithms optimized for high-speed, high-frequency trades that create volatility and risk of market disruptions; and utterly insane proposals for blocking sunlight from reaching the Earth as a strategy to offset the trapping of heat by ever-mounting levels of global warming pollution. All of these represent examples of muddled and dangerous thinking. All should be seen as test cases for whether or not we have the will, determination, and stamina to create a future worthy of the next generations.

Finally, the world community desperately needs leadership that is based on the deepest human values. Though this book is addressed to readers in the world at large, it is intended to carry a special and urgent message to the citizens of the United States of America, which remains the only nation capable of providing the kind of global leadership needed.

For that reason, and for the pride that Americans ought to feel in what the United States has represented to humanity for more than two centuries, it is crucial to halt the degradation and decline of America's commitment to a future in which human dignity is cherished and human values are protected and advanced. Two priority goals for those who wish to take action are limiting the role of money in politics and reforming outdated and obfuscatory legislative rules that allow a small minority to halt legislative action in the U.S. Senate.

Human civilization has reached a fork in the road we have long traveled. One of two paths must be chosen. Both lead us into the unknown. But one leads toward the destruction of the climate balance on which we depend, the depletion of irreplaceable resources that sustain us, the degradation of uniquely human values, and the possibility that civilization as we know it would come to an end. The other leads to the future.

Excerpted from "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change" by Al Gore. Published by Random House. Copyright 2013. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-46 # Allen 23 2013-02-10 21:23
Gore has exhibited a degree of political hypocrisy that is simply astounding.

As an elected official, Gore chose to repeatedly serve the interests of Occidental Petroleum, whose activities are closely related to both human rights abuses and global warming.

The dangerous WTI hazardous waste incinerator was permitted by the Gore EPA, despite his promise that it would not be granted.

Instead of fighting for solar energy and conservation budgets, he and Clinton wasted over one billion dollars in a giveaway to GM, Ford and Chrysler for a clean energy project that never produced even a single prototype.

Earlier in the Senate and as VP Gore shilled for the Pentagon and defense contractors. He opposed efforts to cut defense spending, and backed the Reagan administration' s Central American wars. He partnered with Clinton's Balkan wars in the 90s that destroyed Yugoslavia so NATO could expand into Central and Eastern Europe markets, resources and cheap labor.

As VP he used his "green credentials" to sell the pro-business, anti-worker, anti-environmen tal NAFTA to the environmental movement. He also supported clear-cutting logging practices including in old-growth areas. He backed a 1995 spending bill "salvage logging rider" that opened millions of National Forest lands to logging and exempted sales of the harvest from environmental laws and judicial review for two years. He and Clinton allowed South Florida's sugar barons to devastate thousands of Everglades acres.
+65 # sdraymond 2013-02-10 23:17
If you can find the perfect man, Allen, please let us all know. Gore may have exhibited political hypocrisy, but overall he is an intelligent politician with a strong sense of history and the lessons it should teach us all. If purists like yourself hadn't voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, the world would not have had to suffer through eight years of George Bush.
+11 # Eliza D 2013-02-11 16:44
As flawed and venal a human as Gore is, he has given us a valuable roadmap for navigating the perilous future we face. I wish he would have added a few more things to his list of reckless practices that must be stopped immediately, such as fracking and the Keystone Pipeline. His suggestion that we desperately need leadership based on the deepest human values is the most urgent and poignant. He is right, and to achieve that, we must have the courage to vote virtually all of our elected officials out of office. They are an incestuous, greedy,vindicti ve,corrupt group unable to remember their oaths to their constituents long enough to accomplish anything of lasting value.
+2 # Al21 2013-02-12 00:58
As one whom you might call a "purist" and long-time liberal who ended up voting for Gore I think that blaming people who voted for Nader is such a tired old argument.
Gore ran one of the worst campaigns that rivaled the incompetence of Dukakis and Mondale. lt was uninspired, tired and working hard for the middle-road that stated nothing that moved the people. Knowing the debates would be the perfect chance for an excellent debater like Gore to set the record straight and show W. for the boob he is, Gore made a fool of himself and during the debates there was hardly any daylight between he and a moron like W.
That election was Gores to win if he wanted it bad enough and if he'd also been more tough when he realized that the vote in Florida were rigged by the Bush clan and their cronies he still might have pulled it out. But it should never have come down to Florida as it did.
Since the election Gore has sadly proved himself a massive hypocrite in his plea for greater awareness of Global Warming while he continues to leave over the years a massive footprint.
He blew a massive opportunity with Current and then sold it to a state run company that altho has had some intriguing stories at times, is run by a country that makes it's money on oil and another massive carbon foot print and major polluter.
+7 # Yakpsyche 2013-02-12 11:49
Yes, he blew it. You may have noticed that he is and always has been a bit of an idealiist. This post, and the book from which it is excerpted is extremely idealistic. And, also quite correct. Gore is naive because he is a visionary. But that doesn't change the accuracy of his vision. It is not for him to execute the vision. That is the job of the warriors, the do-ers. Don't waste your energy expecting him to be all around super everything. Is that what you are?
Instead, listen up. He's simply spelling out the writing on the wall. Wake up. This man is telling it like it is. Whether he ran a good compaign, whether he was a good VP, etc. These data don't matter. He's trying to blow the whistle or the trumpet. He's like Paul Revere charging through the country at night, yelling, "The British are coming! (x2)". We didn't expect Paul to lead the charge. Don't expect Gore to be the warrior, but PAY ATTENTION to him as the visionary, for cripe's sake.
0 # Al21 2013-02-12 21:23
That is an absolutely poor argument on your part. I never made any mention of waiting for Mr. Gore to do anything for me or anyone else. I spend every single day of my life doing every single thing I can to support the issues I believe in and feel are important and also do my best to argue against those issues that I feel are detrimental.
How you made such a remarkably inaccurate leap to make this amazingly wrong-headed statements are beyond me. Please don't assume that just because I disagree with Gore's actions or anyone else that is, or assumes to be standing up for liberal issues, doesn't mean I'm sitting home and waiting for a miracle. Maybe you're just to familiar with that pose yourself to so freely try and slander others you don't have a clue about.
+64 # Helen 2013-02-11 01:03
I can see, judging from Allen 23's observations, that Gore has made a lot of mistakes. Haven't we all? Nevertheless, the excerpts above are surely right on, and full of wisdom. It is surely time for us to ditch the phony issues and fluff that preoccupy us today, and to think seriously about our future and that of our planet.
+43 # MidwestDick 2013-02-11 01:04
Tiresome ad hominem and useless response. You did not critique or discuss one thing the man said but tried to devalue it without even discussing it.
-7 # Depressionborn 2013-02-12 04:57
So critique Global warming?

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a "huge discrepancy" between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.
-4 # Martintfre 2013-02-13 15:54
you and your facts.

Next ya might point out how the earth has cooled since 1998 so we are at 1980 levels.

Naah -- that would get in the way of the scare mongers
-26 # FDRva 2013-02-11 01:55
Cannot disagree. But I give Clinton the benefit of the doubt.

After all, Wall Street did not try to impeach Gore.

On the contrary, they tried to make him President with the Ken Starr caper.

-63 # Depressionborn 2013-02-11 06:25
Few believe Gore anymore. He is fast becoming a joke.
+23 # ericlipps 2013-02-11 16:28
Quoting Depressionborn:
Few believe Gore anymore. He is fast becoming a joke.

Not really. Gore is "believed," at least re gobal climate change, by millions of sensible people. The joke is on the folks who thought stealing the 2000 election from himk would shut him up.
-14 # Depressionborn 2013-02-11 21:20
Millions maybe, but fewer and fewer.

Scary computer models have failed; warming is turning into cooling; reality replacing politics bringing sensible science to counter the failed warming scare. Honest data is easily available. Gore is going to be [cold] toast
+9 # Yakpsyche 2013-02-12 11:52
It was never just "warming". Its always been "global climate change". This means, "warmer here, cooler there. Dryer here, wetter there." Don't get too hung up on the indifidual "trees" and forget to see the overall "forest".
+3 # flippancy 2013-02-13 14:28
Quoting Depressionborn:
Millions maybe, but fewer and fewer.

Scary computer models have failed; warming is turning into cooling; reality replacing politics bringing sensible science to counter the failed warming scare. Honest data is easily available. Gore is going to be [cold] toast

How'e the view with your head in the sand? Cooling? How far from the truth can you get?
-1 # Al21 2013-02-12 01:07
Climate change is indeed a major issue. But the truth is Gore has indeed gone out of his way to reveal himself as a hypocrite. The major premise for personal action aside from in the political sphere was to shrink your own family's foot print. Gore has lived the life during and since of a one-percenter with a huge footprint. His mismanagement and eventual sale of Current was also another debacle.
I state this as a life-long liberal and registered democrat. I don't believe in defending someone just because they are from my party. I voted for him, because as we found out, a W. presidency was indeed disastrous.
What we liberals need to do is to get back to our original roots and force our leaders to back the policies that make people, not corporations first. I know many here who are liberals have spent years doing that. We just need to keep on and at the same time not delude ourselves about who is really carrying water for us. Has Gore been sincere in his efforts? I won't and can't judge him, but his actions for the most part have been inconsistent and most often not in line with his words.
+1 # Yakpsyche 2013-02-12 11:59
Why obsess over whether he's a hypocrite or not? Are we to suppose that Gore now is the same as Gore then? That he's learned nothing and not grown or developed in any way? If you think so, then you are really insulting the man by relating only to your own mental image of who/what you think he is or should be, rather than the living, aware, alert, changing, developing, reactive, real human being that he is.

Or perhaps you yourself are a cardboard cut out that never learns, grows or changes, and you expect that all other parties are just like you are? Of course not! You're alive, learning, growing and changing. So is he. Listen to what he's saying. Don't get caught up in petty concerns about "consistency", as if "Al Gore" were a statue cast in bronze, long since dead. This is an alive, aware, awake, human being, just like you, you know. He's doing the best he knows how to do, as a politically fallen but nonetheless well informed person who is able to cogently synthesize many elements of our collective dilemma in a way that could be useful, if you can see past your need for "consistency".
-1 # Al21 2013-02-12 21:29
Gore's behavior in his recent 100 million dollar sale shows he is indeed a hypocrite and he still has multiple homes and has done nothing to minimize his own footprint and live the ideals he asks us to.
Your lame effort to call me a cardboard cut-out is clearly just the kind of nasty rhetoric this site opposes and only reveals that for you, when in doubt run in circles scream and shout at others. Instead of an attempt at a debate related to the comment, you think victory is in how much you can ridicule the commenter. no matter what rationale you may come up with here or in your own mind, that a sad technique that proves nothing.
0 # elainer 2013-02-13 16:06
Yakpsyche, you write and slam others as if you are the only one capable of looking into the soul of this man and only you could be correct. Unintentionally or not Mr. Gore has embarrassed himself on a number of occasions by contradicting his behavior with his calls to action. This hasn't ended as you indicate, but has gone on right through to the present. The same qualities can sadly be applied to other politicians on both sides, in fact most of them.
Bottom line, you have no window into people's souls whether they be Gore or Al21, to excuse the former because you respect him, or the latter because he disagrees with you. Name calling is indeed a sign of immaturity.
+5 # soularddave 2013-02-11 23:58
you must watch too much TV, and not pay attention to other sources. Sure, he's vilified on TV because the masters say it must be. However, if you cover ALL the sources, you'll see he is quite far out ahead on most subjects. Research what he says, and you'll see the evidence as it builds.

For instance: was it not Gore who shepherded the legislation that led to the creation of the internet? No, he didn't "invent" it, but rather helped set it up so it could become what it is today.
+5 # Yakpsyche 2013-02-12 11:51
He is a joke if you expect him to be the warrior that fights the fight and wins the day.

He is most definitely not a joke if you recognize him as the visionary that he is.
-39 # cmp 2013-02-11 07:03
I just had to snap it up.!
I'm on a 3 year fixed...
What a Smokin' Deal.!!!!!

But, it is offered with a few, "new" financial products, too...

+8 # Texan 4 Peace 2013-02-11 15:22
Try analyzing the ideas instead of attacking the man. Many of your charges are accurate, but stem from policies of 20 years ago. Clinton has since apologized for the misguidedness of NAFTA -- admittedly, that doesn't do us a lot of good now, but it does show that politicians can evolve in their thinking. What would be your reaction to this post if you ignored the name in the byline?
+4 # Yakpsyche 2013-02-12 11:43
Maybe what you consider hypocrisy is a reflection of his own awakening; that as VP he realized that those things were incredibly bad, and is now expressing himself in a "reformed" and newly enlightened way. People do in fact learn, grow and develop over time. Were you aware, in the time of the Clinton administration of the things you are aware of now? Are your attitudes and behaviors now the same as they were then? Perhaps at this time it would be beneficial to develop tolerance, understanding and compassion in yourself, as well as taking responsibility for your bitterness and disappointment, rather than tearing down those who are trying to solve the problems which it is clearly in the best interest of all of us to solve.
+95 # Rationalist 2013-02-10 22:57
Yes, there does seem to be some hypocrisy here, although I'd prefer to call it inconsistency, not being willing to assign nefarious motives to Mr. Gore without any special insight into his heart. In any case, there's a lot of utopia implied by his suggestions; but we should never just throw up our hands and say that we shouldn't even bother to try to aim toward idealistic goals just because it's difficult and we can't succeed 100%.

Except for the disclaimers above, I say a hearty "Amen" to Mr. Gore's piece. His long list of desirable changes in direction is well balanced and concentrates on the many crucial items that should be occupying our attention. By implication, he is saying that we are wasting our time arguing about phony issues such as the supposed deficit crisis,one that has been largely manufactured by politicians seeking an issue with which to pander to voter ignorance.

Similarly, the degree to which we are constantly intervening in world affairs with the arrogance that we can actually make things better, is another distraction.

Underlying all this is what I believe to be his most important point: corporate-spons ored "news" media, in league with selfish politicians, keep us distracted by fluff and irrelevance. To the extent that Mr. Gore is trying to focus us on the things that really matter, I applaud him.
+23 # wrknight 2013-02-11 12:39
You are right. Regardless of the impossibility of achieving the ideal, we should consistently aim for it. Success will not measured by how many times we achieve the ideal, but how close we come to it.
+44 # tm7devils 2013-02-10 23:23
To learn from one's mistakes is not hypocracy, it's intelligence. To denigrate someone for one's self interest is childish...and republican.
-23 # MidwestTom 2013-02-10 23:28
Many of the topics Gore mentions are indeed worthy of informed discussion; unfortunately the majority of our citizens are more interested in American Idol, and vote totally oblivious of any knowledge of events that actually effect their lives unless it comes to getting more from the government, or losing some government provided benefit. When 50% do not vote and a large percentage of those that do vote, areonly voting for more handouts we are indeed in big trouble.
+45 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-11 11:27
You do realize, of course, that the majority of people looking for government handouts are the rich. They are the ones who benefit from corporate welfare. They are the ones who benefit from rewriting the tax code, e.g. Mitt Romney. And since you must realize that, then I agree with your points about how they couldn't care less about the topics Gore mentioned. After all, they invest their money in politicians who will stay bought once they have signed their "contract."
+24 # wrknight 2013-02-11 12:58
Tom, you are correct that more citizens are interested in American Idol or Monday night football and vote totally oblivious to the behavior of their elected officials. You are right that 50% of eligible citizens do not vote in most elections. And both of those problems are the main cause for the disfunctionalit y of our democracy.

However, those who are voting for government handouts are largely those who are seeking increases in the corporate welfare programs, the costs of which outweigh all social welfare programs. And they are winning because of those who don't vote or vote in ignorance.
+6 # Pickwicky 2013-02-11 14:42
I'm not convinced I want citizens who are "more interested in American Idol" to vote. Gore's right--our nation's problems are largely due to the uninformed/misi nformed voter. Citizens who are too lazy or uninterested in the process of government to do their homework before they vote ought to be left to stew in their ennui.
+2 # mim 2013-02-12 05:05
After last year's elections, don't be so quick to trash the citizenry. With all the smoke and mirrors, the disinformation, and the vote-suppressio n tactics in the Republican bag of tricks, Obama still won. He won both the electoral and the popular votes, not by as big a margin of the popular vote as I would have liked, but those who lost their votes because of Republican election rigging can hardly be considered "sheeple." I had been dreading election night and was pleasantly surprised.

BTW if the pretense of virtue is hypocracy, what is a person who feigns virtue - a hypocrat?
+4 # Yakpsyche 2013-02-12 12:06
You are absolutely correct. This is another deep issue that is part of what Mr. Gore is saying. The "majority of our citizens" have been hypnotized by corporate controlled media (mainly TV). This is one aspect of what Gore is saying. His call for us to accelerate the transition of democratic discussion to the internet is a call to get beyond the mind numbing effects of corporately controlled media. The public forum has been killed by corporate controlled television, in the style of the Roman "bread and circuses". Their position is, "Just give "them" mental cotton candy, and they'll go along with whatever we want." This is not a criticism of Gore, its a reflection of exactly what he's talking about.
+30 # DaveM 2013-02-10 23:55
Reason is only of use when dealing with rational people. When the truth depends not on empirical evidence but on political party affiliation, all questions of rational discourse are out the window.

We should remember the example of Neville Chamberlain, who in 1938 negotiated a treaty for "peace in our time" with Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain's only failing was that he assumed he was dealing with a rational person. Hitler of course was not....but Chamberlain, who acted entirely in good faith, took the blame.

We have arrived at the point where the very criterion of truth is becoming obsolete I tremble when I consider the possibilities.
+16 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-11 11:28
Your point was the first thing I took from Mr. Gore's discourse, in order to talk rationally, you need to deal with rational people.
0 # brux 2013-02-11 23:33
Do you know any rational people? ;-)
+1 # flippancy 2013-02-13 14:34
Oh, Hitler was quite rational before he became enamored with his demigod image. It was Chamberlain who was delusional. You can also attribute that image to Jimmy Carter, one of our most brilliant presidents, but one who was such a highly moral man that he considered others as honest as himself, the cause of all his problems.
-56 # wjkolar 2013-02-11 00:04
Another ploy to distract us with irrelevant issues while the Democrats come after our guns. ;)
+21 # Texas Aggie 2013-02-11 11:29
Speaking of irrelevant issues. That one ranks up there with green men from Mars and government concentration camps.
+2 # rockieball 2013-02-11 15:05
+1 # David Heizer 2013-02-11 21:52
Wow. Even your wink smiley wasn't enough to overcome this crowd's deafness to sarcasm and humor. Nice try, though.
-1 # flippancy 2013-02-13 14:35
Quoting wjkolar:
Another ploy to distract us with irrelevant issues while the Democrats come after our guns. ;)

G W Bush was the only one who has ever come from your guns.
+30 # rosross 2013-02-11 00:23
The world does not want global leadership. This is an American fantasy and a dangerous one for Americans. The world does not need global leadership and never did.
More to the point, the United States has never represented what Gore suggests to the developed world although it has of course to the undeveloped world but no more so than other developed nations did and do.
In truth, the most powerful American example, certainly in recent decades, has been 'what not to be.'
The US holds many firsts and all of them negative and it offers its average citizen the poorest quality of life and because of that the least freedom of any developed nation.
The US has set an example of warmongering, greed, selfishness, opportunism, lack of integrity and sheer incompetence for close to half a century. Whatever Americans think they are, actions speak louder than words and demonstrate they are the opposite. Perhaps if Americans stop believing the world wanted or needed them to lead, they could actually look after and lead themselves starting by dealing with what sets them apart from the rest of the developed world - highest rates of crime and violence; highest levels of semi-literacy; worst education system; worst welfare safety net; worst worker conditions and minimum wage; worst health care; most corrupt government; worst rate of gun deaths and gun ownership; highest rates of imprisonment; highest rates of racial discrimination. ...the world is doing well without US leadership.
+33 # redjelly39 2013-02-11 00:29
Capitalism cant see in the long term - only the next share holder meeting which is why we of opposable thumbs meet our extent of evolution. As long as Monsanto and Halliburton own our government & airwaves, we will continue the downward spiral. Gore makes some good points about open discussion and it works well for the 8% of us paying attention... How do we get the information to the other 92% that cant hear us over Taylor Swifts commercial dominance on the radio or the big game on TV. Oh yeah, the fix is to buy more stuff....
-35 # FDRva 2013-02-11 00:53
Yup. We're in trouble.

Hedge Fund manager Al Gore wants to sell you some carbon futures swaps derivatives.

Better buy them lest you be targeted for drone attack.
-33 # FDRva 2013-02-11 01:42
Hedge Fund manager Al Gore should do us all a favor and disappear from politics.

He has always been Green--that is where the Green money was. His current climate schtick included.

As a 39 year old late-entry presidential candidate in 1988 his attacks on Jesse Jackson were more than a bit racist--and well-funded.

And Wall Street insisted upon him as Bill Clinton's running mate in 1992.

Clinton complied--and 'heir-apparent' Gore ran in 2000 to succeed Clinton--with Joe Lieberman--the only Democratic senator who favored Clinton's impeachment-- as his VP. Not surprisingly Bush won--and Gore's income improved.

Al Gore has about as much principle as his fellow 'private equity fund manager' Mitt Romney. Very similar principles, too.
+29 # X Dane 2013-02-11 01:43
Al Gore is mentioning a lot, and I agree with him. Now we just need to get the "house" and senate to take action. And to implement as much as possible, in order to save our world.

It sure will not be easy, but the longer we wait before we act, the more expensive it will be and the less chance we have to save the planet.
-39 # brycenuc 2013-02-11 01:46
Al Gore is a fine one to talk about free exchange of information. He and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other acolytes of the nefarious global warming hysteria are the last ones to permit any dissenting views from being aired. As a result the world has been duped into adopting a CO2 abatement program which is expensive, ineffective and portends a lot of harm to world economics.
+25 # sandyclaws 2013-02-11 10:16
brycenuc, it appears you haven't been keeping up with the study the Koch Bros. commissioned where they finally discovered and admit that Gee Whiz, there really is such a thing as climate change. All these years you lunkhead deniers have muddied the waters and prevented the world from moving on to solving the planet's climate woes rather than raping it for profits. And yet you are still perpetuating the profit inspired propaganda in spite of the fact it is actually against your own best interests.
+1 # mim 2013-02-12 05:14
A Koch-commission ed study found that? Talk about unintended consequences!
0 # Depressionborn 2013-02-11 21:24
A yes Mr. brycenuc

The motive for the fraud, the motive$$$$

May I sell you some carbon credits sir?
+33 # America 2013-02-11 05:02
This is an excellent summary of his insight and vision. We should not dismiss it entirely because we disagree on one or two points.
His third paragraph sys it all:

"Our first priority should be to restore our ability to communicate clearly and candidly with one another in a broadly accessible forum about the difficult choices we have to make"

We should read carefully and add our opinion and discuss his points without prejudice and emotion and we will see great value in his thoughts.

We should stop being dogmatic and open our minds so we can learn and perhaps change our perspectives some times.
+4 # AlWight 2013-02-11 15:47
We should stop being dogmatic and open our minds so we can learn and perhaps change our perspectives some times.
If only this were possible. The major problem facing us is our inability to do this. Most minds are shaped by the dogma of the group they identify with, especially true of the Tea Party and other extreme right wing. They are unable to think for themselves, and cannot consider what the policies of today, and the failure of our so-called democracy, are leaving for future generations. What will they think of us?
+1 # Depressionborn 2013-02-12 11:07
Great. Without dogmatic prejudice lets start by agreeing on some moral values.

I suggest: 1) No one has the right to impose on another's life, or property.

What's your #1?
+7 # RLF 2013-02-11 06:27
But there is money to be made and we know the highest God of the American.
+29 # MainStreetMentor 2013-02-11 06:32
President Gore has written an excellent article - the contents of which ring true.
+28 # Hamblaster 2013-02-11 07:32
Their is not one among us whom has not made mistakes. I wish, as do many I imagine that Mr. Gore would ad an apology for his past mistakes, but like we ALL are, he is/was an opportunist, always looking for the profit motive in his political decisions. He is also, a progressive thinker, not in the political sense alone, but as in thinking about maters daily, I imagine, and honing his conclusions on pressing matters. I find him to be right on the above excerpt 100%. This country is in DIRE trouble, and if the elected "children" in Washington do not do a bit of maturing, and get to WORK realistically, instead of constantly squabbling and positioning for the "win" on their own 2 versions of the same matter, usually light years apart, and barely recognizable then America WILL FAIL. WE desperately need money out of the election process, education radically changed to educate the upcoming political aspirants in pertainant subjects beginning in grade school, meaning ALL students, or we will soon be required to learn multiple dialects of chinese!
-37 # 2013-02-11 08:58
NO,NO,NO, don't get to "pass go" this time ! Choose all the academic verbosity you have lost your standing to offer an opinion about the welfare of the U.S.

Your liberal agenda (and the greed the left so often denounces) tipped your hand. Not only did you sell out your tv channel to a foreign nation, you sold it so that enemy propaganda can waft over the living rooms of average americans.

(perhaps to quatar or others like that)
+26 # sandyclaws 2013-02-11 10:24
Have you noticed that all the comments marked in red express no facts but only their beliefs and excerps from the GOP's propaganda machine. Turn off FOX and do some real research and find out the truth. Climate change is not a political issue! If you don't want to do that, I can make you a great deal on this bridge I own......
+12 # tbcrawford 2013-02-11 12:57
"sell your tv channel...enemy propaganda"

OMG, you are so narrow minded. Al Jazeera provides excellent global news and is praised world wide for its fair reporting. If you prefer ignorance and prejudice, enjoy, but don't try to impose it on the rest of us.
+2 # flippancy 2013-02-13 14:40
Quoting tbcrawford:
"sell your tv channel...enemy propaganda"

OMG, you are so narrow minded. Al Jazeera provides excellent global news and is praised world wide for its fair reporting. If you prefer ignorance and prejudice, enjoy, but don't try to impose it on the rest of us.

Come FOR your guns....

Amen! Al Jazeera is widely respected for it's fairness and some of their reporters have been killed for reporting inconvenient truths ;o) about Muslim fundamentalism.
+7 # coberly 2013-02-11 09:54
ah, so much for open discussion.

not to say "intelligent" discussion.

i don't know anything about Gore's "hypocrisy", but it wouldn't surprise me.

On the other hand, when someone tells me the house is on fire and I smell smoke...
+4 # Pickwicky 2013-02-11 14:56
coberly--"Ah, so much for open discussion." I was thinking the same thing. It sounds like an excellent idea, but how could it produce valuable solutions or even 'intelligent' discussion when we see evidence to the contrary right here in River City? Has anyone with many red thumbs announced a great epiphany, instantly changing sides? Truth is, people tend to dig in. I'm all for discussion and the free exchange of ideas, but actually changing a person's mind is a difficult task--especiall y when such minds receive daily reinforcement from their gods: Fox, Limbaugh, TV evangelists.
+4 # reiverpacific 2013-02-11 10:43
This is a kind of long-winded way of saying what most of us who aren't idiot reactionaries know already.
Maybe I'll get to write my version someday but I'm not from an Old South Political Dynasty.
I know that nobody's perfect but Gore showed his lack of gut-fight in capitulating to Dimwit's "Selection" by SCOTUS, the result of which many of you lot have blamed on the much more worthy and courageous Ralph Nader.
And I've still never found out to this day if Mr. "Inconvenient Truth" ever de-vested himself of he and his family's heavy shares in Occidental Petroleum when they almost drove the U'wa indigenous people to mass suicide by beginning filthy, polluting exploratory drilling for oil in 1997, in their millennia-old pristine Llano area of the Colombian Amazon watershed, finally withdrawing in 2007.
Bet he'd find this an "Inconvenient Truth" if asked (I've written several times to him about this without response).
And thanks to "moafu" for reminding us of the profitable sale of his TV channel. I mean, didn't they kick Keith Olbermann off when they, like MSNBC, didn't have the stomach for his particular style of uncompromising delivery?
Now let the red thumbs rain down on me.
+7 # guomashi 2013-02-11 10:54
I wonder how many recognize the fatalistic irony of Gore referencing Marcus Aurelius as the source of his thoughts.

The tenor of the replies here suggest he was not blind to the ramifications of his allusion.

Is there one dissenter who has a single thing to say about the points Gore actually made?
+2 # cmp 2013-02-11 13:34
His points are beautiful! Especially his points on money & politics. My opinion is that it all starts there.

I tried to make it all joke and not personal for anyone, up top. More of a laugh on us, than him. I know folks are little sensitive about Al. But geez..

He is right, "We are in trouble," and honesty is a good starting point, too.

I've been told for four decades now, "it's about, the lesser of 2 evils."

But in 1907, Teddy smashed the Corps with the Tillman Act. Yeah, they still owned our gov but not nearly as dominating or overt.

Here's the kicker, and it's the point most people miss.. In 1976, it was BOTH of the major Parties who brought us Buckley vs Valeo. Eugene McCarthy, was left off as a named plaintiff in the suit. This not only is what kicked down the door for the Corporations to get back in with real clout, but after 75 years it united the 2 Parties to sit at the same table together with the paymasters and have an unlimited black market of soft monies & expenditures; as well. The kind, that could dwarf ours.

And, I've seen the mechanics of this from working the inside. Both Parties at the same table and the same monies..

Whether Reagan, Obama, Gore, I know, it's not about personalities, no more.. I know why the Parties fight like hell to convince us of a difference and then march together in perfect lock step. Pardon me for saying this but after Buckley vs Valeo, "it's We, who became the, inconvenient truth."
+9 # uuzul 2013-02-11 11:17
FINALLY -- HE SAID IT -- he almost said it on the John Stewart show -- "UTTERLY INSANE PROPOSALS FOR BLOCKING SUNLIGHT..." he is talking about chemtrails and Geoengineering! There, right there --- he has awakened. Now speak out! If we don't stop chem spraying, the earth is doomed .... no joke. No joke at all.
+11 # PGreen 2013-02-11 11:24
This is a good start on a "to-do" list, regardless of who is saying it. Two things struck me:

"It also means protecting the public forum from dominance by elites and special interests with agendas that are inconsistent with the public interest."
This is the fundamental problem in making changes to the establishment. Solutions that seem to work involve creating alternative structures unbeholden to establishment interests. Even considering this, we still have some experimenting to do along these lines.

"So-called externalities that are currently ignored in standard business accounting must be fully integrated into market calculations. For example, it is simply no longer acceptable to pretend that large streams of harmful pollution do not exist where profit and loss statements are concerned." Yes, absolutely! Of course not just pollution. I suspect that when externalities are calculated, capitalism loses much of its luster. That the private health insurance network is far more costly than universal Medicare would be (due to money siphoned off for profit and a thousand separate administration plans) is something of an open secret.

There is a lot of good stuff here that needs to be discussed more specifically.
0 # Gere 2013-02-11 14:13
If we go back to the history told about the Israelites living in ancient times, how they enjoyed pleasure so much they avoided their responsibilitie s, we also can read how they were severely punished by their Creator. We now live in a world of total internet communication where we all have access to the truth as well as lies. The truth shows us that it is our own behavior in making the wrong energy choices and buying and supporting the wrong products made by the wrong energy that is rapidly accelerating us towards the biggest disaster the modern world has ever experienced. Cataclysmic weather that includes super cold and super heat, flooding, drought and wind storms never experienced in the history of man is what Mr. Gore and those who also accept the “inconvenient truth” call “climate change”.
The end times were foretold in the bible and without question, we are beginning to experience its escalation. One-third of the world’s people claim to be Christians. That group includes Al Gore and me. I know we must again be the ones that history shows in the Old Testament and up to recent times (at least prior and during most of WWII) have protected the rest of the children of God from the world’s worst disasters. This has been happening over and over since the birth of Christ despite so many also being saved that were either unaware of what saved them or cast aside what in their hearts they knew to be the truth. Thank God Al Gore knows we have very little time to get it right.
+3 # fredboy 2013-02-11 19:57
Just read your new book--superb! Just like this column. America -- and most people -- fear those blessed with foresight. Yours may just save the world.
+7 # Stephen 2013-02-11 22:02
Thinking persons with a sense of history would have to agree with all Gore's points. My great-grandfath er, a New York banker and hard-core republican, used to say that the much hated FDR did what was necessary to 'save capitalism from itself'. We need to do that again. The rapacious, fraudulent, and predatory capitalism that has emerged in the last two decades cannot serve as the socio-economic scaffolding for a just and democratic society. If we don't act, the western enlightenment project of the just society will likely pass under the wheels of history, and something akin to the Chinese structure will emerge as the model for future development in the world. Honestly though, in light of the last ten years of hollow and deceptive rhetoric and the apparently unstoppable corporate takeover of our 'government of the people', I don't think we will do it. Welcome to the twilight of the enlightenment.
+3 # brux 2013-02-11 23:32
> That means building vibrant and open "public squares" on the Internet for the discussion of the best solutions to emerging challenges and the best strategies for seizing opportunities.

Gore is right here.

The problem is that most Americans have no idea what that means ... most American might as well be living in darkest Africa for how much they understand the challenges going on right now.

But it's not just the people's fault, we keep pushing an economy of death where virtually all of our major industries sell us things that kill us and push us towards an expensive and profitable "health care" industry ... and that is why we will not have universal health care in this country - we would have to appropriate all the money from all the major corporations and dynasties in order to compensate Americans for the genocide and BS they have been fed for decades.

We cannot cure people because we need the money from them being sick.

We cannot educate people because they will see what is going on and stop cooperating.

We cannot have a public forum where people can talk because if they do there will be revolution.

Meanwhile, the governments of the world, even the nasty ones realize they have a lot in common from their fear of people and the best thing is to work together against their people.
+2 # PGreen 2013-02-13 12:22
Quoting brux:
> We cannot cure people because we need the money from them being sick.

We cannot educate people because they will see what is going on and stop cooperating.

We cannot have a public forum where people can talk because if they do there will be revolution.

Meanwhile, the governments of the world, even the nasty ones realize they have a lot in common from their fear of people and the best thing is to work together against their people.

All excellent, insightful points.

The last point makes me think about Marx. Since elites say he is discredited (and he IS dated),it is ironic that they still fear what he wrote. The development of a worldwide class war is supposed to be the his precursor to revolution. Not sure about Marx myself, but elites in government seem to be waging this war in their collaboration.

Nice post.
+1 # DurangoKid 2013-02-12 13:53
There are some interesting parallels between Al Gore and Thomas Jefferson.
0 # famullar 2013-02-12 18:47
IT has helped us more then anything or any human now. Look at Steve Jobs' works the finger moving with the IT then anyone will tell you we have made it. Yes I agree the old men have the phobias and that is their lower esteem that they never took the IT seriously and watch the TV for the WW! WW2 stories but that is inevitable in the world not just USA All in the universe took up the qwerty as soon as it came out and the throw aways gizmos. I regret they could not catch up I thank you But blame IT not Firozali A.Mulla DBA

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.