Did Al Gore Just Tell You Off?

In a column published in the New York Times today called “The Big Melt,” Nicholas Kristoff quotes Al Gore:

“We are now treating the Earth’s atmosphere as an open sewer,” he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources.

“I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers,” Mr. Gore said, “and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.”

Did Al Gore just double-dog dare you? Seems like he didn’t get the news about students occupying Bank of America down in Asheville to protest its dirty money, or the action out at the West Coast Convergence.

You can write the New York Times to let Al and them know about what young people are doing about global warming – maybe even ask him for a couple of bucks to help pay for the bail for our friends down in Asheville. And after that, what about those bulldozers?

14 Responses to “Did Al Gore Just Tell You Off?”

  1. 1 Amy Ortiz Aug 16th, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Alright folks. If Al Gore is telling us to start locking down, then you know this is serious. We clearly need to step up the game. Is Al Gore really more radical than the youth climate movement? I hope not. Lets stop this! Time to start organizing non violent direct action camps across the nation, and using the skills we learn there to send a serious message that we won’t compromise in the fight against global warming.

  2. 2 Matt Aug 16th, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I think Gore’s statement is right on the money. Even as grassroots activists who understand the MAGNITUDE of the problem – very few of us stepping to the plate and confronting the problem with an equally appropriate magnitude of response.

    Non-violent direct action is something largely lacking from the US climate movement. Historically – such action has been the backbone and the catalyst for nearly every major social, economic, and political victory in this country. We really need to look for inspiration and strategy from the anti-nuclear movements of the past 30 years, to incredible forest-defense campaigns, to civil rights struggles, to rank-and-file labor efforts, to indigenous struggles against oil and gas exploration, and to global efforts against neo-liberalism, corporate globalization, and colonialism.

    We don’t have time to wait. While yes, we need strong legislation, not a single politician (Gore included) is putting forth frameworks that truly get to the root of the problem, or that will truly stop this crisis. Politicians operate in a world of compromises with corporate interests who want to maintain business-as-usual as best they can. Someone needs to put forth real visions, real responses, and real solutions. It’s up to us as youth, as visionaries, and as realists (who are real about the future we want to live in) to re-frame the debates, re-frame the options, and reclaim the responses to this crisis.

    I was in Asheville last week – and those of us there (and in Oregon, at Heathrow, and in many other places) are willing to truly “Step It Up” – to build this movement into something more powerful that responds to the crisis with an appropriate response. I’m not willing to wait for tipping points, nor for politicians to stop pandering to corporate interests. Remember – climate change is unique in the sense that we must fully meet the problem – half-solutions will do us no good. A rescue rope that made an effort, but was still 10 feet short leaves us in no better situation.

    Let’s take action together, empower people and communities to create solutions, and hold corporations and politicians accountable (not encourage them to be profitable) for the crisis they have created.

    Who is in?


  3. 3 David Aug 16th, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    …If only we could gather thousands of young people together in one place to pull off a really spectacular non-violent direct action!

  4. 4 Amy Ortiz Aug 16th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Wow David your right. That would be really great! I’ve heard of this thing called Powershift 2007. Something about our generation rising to the climate crisis. Thousands of students, in our capital….seems like that might be just what we are looking for!

  5. 5 Phillip Huggan Aug 16th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    http://www.ecologyfund.com offers daily buttons to click to save rainforests. Also saves 500ft^2 of rainforests upon quick and free site registration. Up to an additional 2000ft^2 if up to 20 friends are e-mailed a request to join.

    http://www.everyclick.com is a search engine that donates two cents to a charity of one’s choice for each search. “Rainforest Concern” is listed, they buy up rainforests.

    All funded by ad revenues.

  6. 6 Arthur Coulston Aug 17th, 2007 at 1:55 am

    In the face of an increasingly oppressive federal government it is important to consider the role our ‘peace’ officers have to play in helping us raise awareness around this issue. Take for example the action camp going on at Heathrow Airport, UK this week. Activists there have garnered major national and international media attention for climate change and the debate around air travel and airport expansion.

    How did they get all this coverage? Well most of the coverage has been spurred by the embarrassingly large police presence at the camp, nearly two heavily armed officers for every one camp attendee. The camp has been very strategic in using the location next to Heathrow and vagueness around the camps goals to draw out a big police presence.

    Anyway, just a thought. Sometimes all you have to do is talk about doing direct action to get thousands of media hits. Read some of this news coverage to find out more…


  7. 7 Andrew Aug 17th, 2007 at 11:20 am

    There are youth groups already taking action, but you’re right. We need to take Gore up on his challenge. Take it to the next level.

    Check out Solar Generation as one way to get involved…


    They’ve protested at big bank meetings and political conferences, and have members around the world.

  8. 8 brianfrank Aug 17th, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    As someone who worked a lot on the west coast convergence it is worth noting that doing direct action for the climate, while it may be inspiring and empowering, does not necessarily mean media attention.

    Both of the actions post-west coast convergence were billed in the media in press release headlines as “direct actions”, but because there was no big arrest scenario, or risk to travelers, the media interest was tepid at best – even for a blockade of a major power company HQ in downtown Portland!

    The bottom line is if we want corporate media coverage of resistance we either need to make it hugely huge and different (vis a vis Step it Up) or we need to do (or say we are going to do….) actions that really disrupt things (like appear to be threatening to take down Heathrow).

    The UK Climate Camp strategy of choosing to position the camp at Heathrow was flawless: it’s worth noting that the activists there VERY LIKELY WILL NOT EVEN DO AN ACTION AT HEATHROW, and may never have intended too!

    They made the media believe they were going to do something totally unbelievable, used that to draw attention to the issue, and while they’ve captured their attention, they have led them where they wanted them, pulling off more manageable and less massively disruptive actions all along the way, drawing attention to off-the-grid living and the growing movement to stop climate chaos.

    In the end they’ll have all the attention to the climate they’d hoped for, have made the media and police look like over-reactive fools, and gotten tens of thousands more people engaged in the issue.


  9. 9 Luis Aug 17th, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Great post!

    If the economics don’t work, recycling efforts won’t either.
    As our little contribution to make this economics of recycling more appealing, http://LivePaths.com blogs about people and companies that make money selling recycled or reused items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources.

  10. 10 Ben Hubbird Aug 17th, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    In the words of the Wobblies, DAGG, yo. Direct Action Gets the Goods. The acronym isn’t DADMAPYMME (Direct Action Draws Media Attention and Promulgates Your Message More Efficiently), and to view direct action as a tactic in some larger media strategy seems a little disingenuous. It’s not about messaging or framing or “drawing attention”. It’s about stopping coal plants now.

    That’s not to say that other actions aren’t important, obviously I wouldn’t be doing what I do if I thought that, just to say that defanged, micro-managed direct action always makes me feel a little queasy. I just don’t know if I subscribe to the Ruckus Society school of activism, that views direct action as a tool to garner media exposure.

  11. 11 Stephen L. Rush Aug 18th, 2007 at 6:03 am

    I agree with Amy, Matt, David, but especially Luis. The reality is the economics of it, so as a business strategist, I looked into what it would take to go carbon-negative (not merely carbon-neutral), as the Virgin-mobile/Generation Investment Management challenge says to.

    Let’s think it through: there are three consumer-driven polluters: electricity, transportation, and solid waste. Providing electricity to the grid is tricky without additional infrastructure, and could be more expensive to provide than to just work with the diesel generators we have now. Auto manufacturers are not sure what direction to go until a viable fuel source is found, especially since corn prices cannot please both ethanol fuel providers and dairy consumers. Organic trash requires mega-amounts of manpower to separate, and ethanol from cellulosic material requires some sort of environmentally unsound and expensive acid pre-process just to access the sugars inside – and it only can produce 15-20% of the demand.

    At least, that is the way things look. What if I told you Wise Landfill Recycling Mining has been working on a proprietary process that breaks down organic cell tissue from municiple solid waste in a way that is both environmentally and economically sound? It is true. Not only that, we found a way to excentuate the cellulosic processes and produce 4.4 times as much ethanol, while extracting CO2 from the air and internal processes to provide bio-diesel. In addition, the excess electricity we produce from solar and biodiesel generators will be sold back to the electric grid.

    That’s the plan. It may be a while before implementation, but we are out there and are doing everything in our power to bring carbon-negative oil independence to consumers here in the U.S. and eventually abroad. We are not just saying someone should do something, we are doing it. That is our stance.

    Ok, so I am not exactly a youth. But I did want to respond to the agitation that seemed as if nothing was being done.

  12. 12 Me Aug 22nd, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    we met with him in nyc and brought to his attention the jeff luers case
    think it made an impact

  13. 13 Ray Aug 30th, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Al Gore is a hypocrite. I wish he’d get off of his high horse telling people what to do and do something himself. Think about how many limos and airplanes he’s taken in his quest for global warming. I would be happy to be civilly disobedient as long as he’s the first one to get arrested.

  1. 1 Memetics 101 « Chris Martin’s Weblog Trackback on Jun 3rd, 2008 at 5:23 pm
Comments are currently closed.

About Jamie

Jamie is the co-coordinator of 350.org, an international global warming campaign. A recent college graduate, he lives in San Francisco, CA. In 2007, he co-organized Step It Up, a campaign that pulled together over 2,000 climate rallies across the United States to push for strong climate action at the federal level. He's also an early member of the youth climate movement, leading one of Energy Action's first campaigns in 2005: Road to Detroit, a nationwide veggie-oil bus tour to promote sustainable transportation. He's traveled to Montreal and Bali to lobby the UN with youth, but he's a strong believer that change happens in the streets not in meetings. Jamie received the Morris K. Udall award in 2007 and has been recognized by the mighty state of Vermont for his work on climate change. You can also find him blogging at Campus Progress' "Pushback," Changents.com, and 350.org.

Community Picks