Take a moment to read Carole Cadwalladr’s article in The Guardian, “Al Gore: ‘The rich have subverted all reason'”. a discussion of Gore and Gore’s new sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth”. Gore has been at the forefront of the movement to heighten public awareness of the dangers of global warming, an effort dating from before his original blockbuster documentary. His experiences are instructive because, as with the earlier fight against tobacco, the fight against global warming faces a disinformation campaign from the corporate interests who perceive their profits at risk, in this case the fossil fuel producers led by the Koch brothers.
Cadwalladr writes: “One of Trump’s first acts after his inauguration was to remove all mentions of climate change from federal websites. More overlooked is that one of Theresa May’s first actions on becoming prime minister – within 24 hours of taking office – was to close the Department for Energy and Climate Change; subsequently donations from oil and gas companies to the Conservative party continued to roll in. And what is increasingly apparent is that the same think tanks that operate in the States are also at work in Britain, and climate change denial operates as a bridgehead: uniting the right and providing an entry route for other tenets of Alt-Right belief. And, it’s this network of power that Gore has had to try to understand, in order to find a way to combat it.
[Says Gore] ‘In Tennessee we have an expression: “If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn’t get there by itself.” And if you see these levels of climate denial, you can be pretty sure it didn’t just spread itself. The large carbon polluters have spent between $1bn and $2bn spreading false doubt. Do you know the book, Merchants of Doubt? It documents how the tobacco industry discredited the consensus on cigarette smoking and cancer by creating doubt, and shows how it’s linked to the climate denial movement. They hired many of the same PR firms and some of the same think tanks. And, in fact, some of those who work on climate change denial actually still dispute the links between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.'”
Notes Cadwalladr, “What becomes clear over the course of several conversations [with Gore] is how entwined he believes it all is – climate change denial, the interests of big capital, ‘dark money’, billionaire political funders, the ascendancy of Trump and what he calls (he’s written a book on it) ‘the assault against reason’. They are all pieces of the same puzzle; a puzzle that Gore has been tracking for years, because it turns out that climate change denial was the canary in the coal mine.”
Gore is nonetheless relentlessly upbeat – noting other successful social movements, he feels that surely, in his view, Trump is a blip in the road. Notwithstanding Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Gore is heartened by the reaction of the other 19 countries in the G 20.
Perhaps he is correct, but he is more certainly on point when he ties the disinformation campaign of the Right to the other political shenanigans currently in vogue. Here’s Cadwalladr’s wrap up: “Brexit, Trump, climate change, oil producers, dark money, Russian influence, a full- frontal assault on facts, evidence, journalism, science, it’s all connected. Ask Al Gore. You may want to watch Wonder Woman this summer, but to understand the new reality we’re living in, you really should watch An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Because, terrifying as they are, in some ways the typhoons and exploding glaciers are just the start of it. “
For my part, I am less than confident that sufficient action on climate change will be taken. Gore, for all his presence and articulateness, has been at this effort for over ten years and yet the US is backsliding at a terrifying rate even as the environmental catastrophes loom. Nothing guarantees that we win this fight. The current efforts at degrading mainstream journalism and at spreading disinformation through right-wing outlets and social media have been more than successful. A wake up is in order.