I’m genuinely puzzled by John Tierney’s column ($) on Gore and An Inconvenient Truth.

He doesn’t deny that global warming is real, or that it’s a significant challenge. His problem with Gore seems to be that Gore recognized the danger too soon, before "non-evil economists" were convinced. According to Tierney, Gore’s downright crazy to ascribe the lack of social consensus on climate change in part to "evil oil companies and Republicans." You see, up ’til now it’s just been good-natured, good-faith debate. Some people — non-evil people! — well, they just weren’t convinced.


The second ding on Gore is that he "avoids any call to action that would cause immediate discomfort, either to filmgoers or to voters in the 2008 primaries." Tierney’s in a snit that Gore didn’t specifically advocate Tierney’s pet solutions: a gas tax and nuclear power.

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But Gore spent only about the last ten minutes of the movie on solutions. (Thus the much-discussed quote.) He didn’t do anything but gesture to the Socolow-Pacala paper on stabilization wedges. There were no specific policy recommendations, comfortable or uncomfortable.

What doesn’t occur to Tierney is that Gore might not have needed to spend so much time on basic climate science if boneheads like Tierney hadn’t taken so long to board the clue train. It appears one can never convince Americans too much.

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Gore’s been right about climate change, for a long time. Tierney’s been wrong about it, until just recently. Rather than snickering about Gore’s "likeability," perhaps Tierney should be aspiring to Gore’s veracity. Oh, and moral courage.