Washington The Democrats’ leading environmental messenger, Al Gore, is declaring that President Barack Obama has failed to lead on the issue of global warming.
In a 7,000-word essay posted online Wednesday by Rolling Stone magazine, Gore says the president hasn’t stood up for “bold action” on the problem and has done little to move the country forward since he replaced Republican President George W. Bush.
Bush infuriated environmentalists by resisting mandatory controls on the pollution blamed for climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible. The scientific case has only gotten stronger since, Gore argues, but Obama has not used it to force significant change.
“Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,” Gore says. “He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community ... to bring the reality of the science before the public.”
Gore does credit Obama’s political appointees with making hundreds of changes that have helped move the country “forward slightly” on the climate issue, but says the president “has simply not made the case for action.” He is the second Clinton administration official this month to express disappointment with Obama on environmental issues. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, in a speech in early June, said Obama had yet to take up the “mantle of land and water conservation ... in a significant way.”
Gore’s comments mark a turnaround for the nation’s most prominent global warming advocate, whose work on the climate problem has earned him a Nobel Prize and was adapted into an Oscar-winning documentary.
Gore toasted Obama’s inauguration with a “green” ball. He helped the White House press the House to pass a global warming bill in 2009 that would have set the first-ever limits on the pollution blamed for global warming, a bill that died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Gore also advised Obama before the president participated in international climate negotiations in 2009. Obama’s last-minute appearance in Copenhagen helped salvage a nonbinding deal to reduce greenhouse gases.
Gore declined a request for an interview.