Al Gore Turns Purple

I am not sure how to classify certain global-warming proponents. As I have said many times, the majority of climate scientists are honest, hard working men. Some are more prone to error than others, but that’s life and no cause for alarm.

A few are willing to make sharp short cuts, and let pass disqualifying mistakes; but they do so because they feel their results are ultimately correct. Some have said this qualifies them as “hoaxers.” I do not accept this. A hoaxer is a con man, somebody who knows his theory is false, but he promulgates it anyway, for personal gain or fame.

Others, like Dr Hansen, are in the grip of True Belief. To them, the End really is near. And when they act on this deep conviction—by making atrocious public statements, or by advocating minor criminal behavior—I cannot become overly upset with them. I even admit to some amusement.

Yes, we should—and I have—point out the depth of their religious fervor. We should call on the more regular members to admit that it’s possible to go too far. But, as long as the True Believers do not cross the line and advocate or cause physical harm, they are essentially harmless.

That’s scientists, I mean. Politicians and pundits are a different matter. They can cause real and lasting harm. It is they that must take up the banner of the scientist and lead the charge. And it is they that choose the battles.

For example, if Drs Hansen and Lindzen—to name two prominent men on either side of global warming—were quarreling over, say, undecidability propositions in logic, their (academic) fight would be as bloody, but it would excite no outside interest. It is only when politicians take sides that we have to fear.

Which brings us to Al Gore. Is he a True Believer? He certainly gives the outward appearance of one. His public statements on global warming and condemnations of public behavior are not qualitatively different than fiery sermons directed towards a flock who have, of late, been negligent in their tithing.

Do I need more proof than this?

It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

Unimaginable calamity! Civilization as we know it! That’s hellfire. Later he says we are a “criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings.” That’s brimstone. His solution? Give ’till it hurts, friends.

His parishioners have responded to his harangues and admonishments by opening their wallets. Mr Gore, like many big-tent ministers, has become wealthy from his criticisms of the crass commercialisms he claims have led us to the precipice. (He actually, apparently unaware of the irony, enjoys the phrase “market fundamentalism.”)

But never mind. Does he believe what he’s saying, or is he just another politician invoking fear in an attempt to secure power? It does make a difference in how we treat him.

Now, nobody can get to be a US Senator and then Vice President while being an idiot. It follows that the man is not a fool and has some intelligence. He, like most activists, probably does not understand the specifics of man-made harmful global warming theory (the physics, chemistry, modeling, equations of motion, etc.). Therefore, he, and the activists, must rely on scientists to interpret that theory, and put it in a way that it is comprehensible to them.

Mistakes are inevitable in this process. That is, we scientists imperfectly summarize our findings. This is partly our fault, and partly because of the limitations of our listeners. Still, I think, the gist of global warming theory can be grasped by any reasonably intelligent person.

Please understand that I say this next (necessary) sentence in the humblest way possible. I know more than Al Gore does about the theory. For example, I am aware of its limitations and its uncertainties. I know what is likely and what is merely possible given that the theory is true; and I know the same if that theory is false. I doubt that it is true; further, I am not alone. That is, there are other qualified scientists who think as I do.

Yet Mr Gore has never contacted us, nor has he taken our council. And since he must have more than an inkling of how science works, he must be aware that we skeptical scientists exist. Although we skeptics might be wrong—just as the theory’s proponents might be wrong—any competent political or policy statement conditional on the theory must acknowledge its uncertainties.

Then, since none of Mr Gore’s statements contain any uncertainty, and given that he is intelligent enough to understand that these uncertainties exist, and given his recourse to “market fundamentalist” practices meant to enrich himself, we can conclude that he is a fraud.


  1. dearieme

    I think it quite likely that some of the AGW scientists started off as being at least middling honest, albeit largely pretty dud scientists. But my guess is that as they learned how feeble, and error-ridden, their evidence was, they started to cheat – to become crooks, in other words. There’s a comparable common experience in business, I understand – someone turns out to be unable to thrive honestly against the competition, and turns to crime.

  2. bob

    I have always had the problem of thinking that Al Gore is either a dullard, or one bright son-of-a-gun. His apparent inability to understand the science behind global warming is not encouraging for someone with the credibility in political circles he enjoys.

    His investments seem to be well planned, even the carbon trading risk he is taking. If he and his politically well connected buddies can get a cap and trade regime instituted, he will become ultra-rich.

    He is able to smile all the way to the bank. What a payback for the year 2000 elections!

  3. DougInSanDiego

    A friend of mine ran a company called Perrigrine. He became it’s leader just as explosive growth began.

    Now, anything CAN happen, and it has been quite some time since I sat next to this fellow every day for 2 years. But, I do not believe personal fundamentals like honesty and morality change all that much. And – this guy was the straightest of the straight arrows I have ever met. Heck, the guy was a history teacher before entering the business world.

    So this (probably) straight arrow comes to Perrigrine, full of confidence and enthusiasm. And very, very lofty expectations set by the investing public. Each Quarter meant that revenues would HAVE to grow enormously – for, investors had bid the stock up to the heavens under the presumption that revenues WOULD grow enormously. Any little event – such as a slightly missed revenue goal – might pop the zeal of the investors and send the stock tumbling back to earth.

    For a while things went as planned, in spite of the odds against such growth. The company was, indeed, flourishing.

    But at some point this company came to the realization that they would not quite meet their revenue goals for the quarter. But, lo, there were a few contracts that they all had EXPECTED would close during the quarter – and surely WILL close – but, as of the date ending the quarter, were not quite there. Someone, somewhere, came up with the idea to pretend a few of these contracts were valid and thus meet the revenue goals for the quarter.

    Thus it began.

    In subsequent quarters things became increasingly difficult, as some of the “current” contracts had already been (falsely) moved forward in time and accounted for in a prior quarter. The slide had begin; a cataclysmic (to borrow a pet word from Gore) fall to earth was only a matter of “when”. And, when that happened, all Hell broke out.

    My friend is now the villain of this debacle – my ultra honest and morally sound friend – and he is currently receiving free room and board courtesy of the State for his transgressions. It all started so innocently, but once started even the personal attributes of this fellow could keep the reaper at bay.

    This, by the way, is NOT a fiction.

    And so, while some wish prison time for the clearly “dishonest” and “scam artist” scientists, I do not. With my own eyes I have seen how a good, upright individual can be trapped into sin by a single, seemingly acceptable bending of the truth.

    Gore and his ilk, in it for the money, are another matter entirely. Mr. Gore and his Gang are snake oil salesmen – wresting the last pennies from a poor parents pocket under a false promise of ‘hope’. Gore is a knowing fraud. Gore’s just deserts should be a prison cell next door to my friends’.

    So, be angry with the errant (and fraudulent) scientists, who – most likely – started down their personal slippery slope to ‘frauddom’ by innocent first step – but allow them their human failings; do not crucify them. Save THAT anger for those who have earned it.

  4. He’s a classic “Charlatan”, otherwise known during frontier days as “Snake Oil Salesmen”. It’s the only explanation for the dichotomy between what he says and what he does.

    Had to laugh when you wrote: “Now, nobody can get to be a US Senator and then Vice President while being an idiot.” Do you know that for a fact is that merely a hopeful belief?

  5. Briggs


    The progressive Left was always saying Bush was an idiot, when what they really meant was that they did not like most of his policies. They are convinced that anybody who does not believe as they do is a fool, and imbecile, or is evil.

    We should not make the same mistake.


    Interesting story, thanks.

  6. RickA

    Definitions of fraud (from Google):

    intentional deception resulting in injury to another person
    imposter: a person who makes deceitful pretenses
    something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage

    Couldn’t we also conclude that Gore is wrong or mistaken – or that the scientists he relies on are wrong or mistaken.

    Perhaps his analysis is overly simplistic – in that it doesn’t contain any uncertainties.

    He may be a fraud – or he may just be wrong.

    If he is a true believer than he is not a fraud – because he has no intent to deceive.

    I find it troubling when advocates of one side or the other start name calling – and I don’t think it is helpful to the debate.

    Whenever we get into the issue of intent (which fraud connotes), we are trying to get inside the head of another person.

    Then we end up fighting over intent – rather than whether Gore is right or wrong.

    I think Gore is wrong – and I will leave it at that.

  7. Briggs


    The point you make is an important one, and is one that I have been emphasizing for a long time. It is also probably true that Gore believes some of what he is saying.

    But he has been in a position of authority long enough to know what his public statements imply. Since he is not so stupid to believe his own apocalyptic language, and since he must by now be aware of his own mistakes (from his film, book, etc.), then he must be knowingly or purposely misleading. But even that would not qualify him as a “fraud.” To be that, he must also have knowingly and willfully used misleading statements for his own personal gain, for fame or for fortune. And this he has done vigorously.

  8. Bernie

    Would “hypocrisy” cover most of Gore’s probable but unproven sins?

  9. DougInSanDiego


    Several answers pretty much rule out the “Oops” explanation for Gore et al (remember, Gore is not in this alone – also Goldman Sachs, etc etc etc):

    1. Gore is co-founder of both the European AND the US Carbon Exchanges. The profits he anticipates from these ventures make Oil Sheiks look impoverished. That much money cause intense scrutiny on the part of the person standing to gain.

    2. Gore is deeply involved, and so has seen ALL of the people – both laymen and scientists – pointing out the fallacies. He has ignored all of this. That simply can’t be because of cultism. The leader of the cult KNOWS what is true and not true of what he preaches.

    3. As Briggs pointed out, Gore is not a naive layman but a professional politician. He KNOWS the influence his word has. No one, knowing this, would recklessly lead millions of people into a false position because of innocence – ignoring all warning signs.

    4. Finally, look at Gore’s methodology. Never ever has he attempted to discuss his beliefs in an impartial forum. He uses classic political manipulation at every step, and is very, very good at it. Blame Gore for the errors of the scientists, infatuated both with the attention of a Vice President (and Nobel winner) and the notoriety associated with Gore’s coattails.

  10. Ray

    Al Gore is to the environmental movement as Elmer Gantry is to religion. Every religion requires a demagogue to preach hellfire and damnation and fill the pews with believers and the collection plate with dollars.

  11. Bernie

    I think you are giving Gore too much credit. How much of the NYT opinion piece do you think he actually wrote? Not to sound like a conspiracy nut, but there are way smarter guys than Gore behind the Carbon Exchange – they are simply using him.

  12. I’ve blogged about this Gore piece, as well, focusing on his use of the tobacco analogy. He thinks that merely comparing oil companies to tobacco companies should be enough to undermine the latter in the eyes of the public.

    This is astonishing given his family’s long history with tobacco. They grew it for years. He used to boast on the campaign trail about how personally involved he’s been his entire life in the growing, harvesting and selling of this crop. Moreover, he accepted tobacco industry campaign donations. (All of this info is courtesy of the New York Times.)

    This is a case of the pot calling an alleged kettle black. That he now routinely resorts to the tobacco analogy in the global warming debate tells me everything I need to know about him. He’s a morally incoherent schmuck who has absolutely no shame.

    My blog post is here:

  13. dcardno

    Not to sound like a conspiracy nut, but there are way smarter guys than Gore behind the Carbon Exchange – they are simply using him
    But that’s just semantics. I find it hard to think that Gore wouldn’t know if he was being used – that’s the lifeblood of politics – so it seems more than he has willingly become the (well compensated) front-man for the scheme. The fact that smarter guys may be involved does not absolve him of responsibility for his own mis-statements. That they were made with the intent to make a couple of bucks for himself moves him into Jeff Skillings territory.

  14. Bernie

    I do not disagree as to Gore’s culpability in these matters – but focusing on Gore means that others are less in the spotlight. For example, there is an interesting piece on Arianna Huffington in American Thinker that illusterates the need to consider who is actually pulling the strings -
    Arianna and Al are cut from the same opportunist cloth.

  15. “Now, nobody can get to be a US Senator and then Vice President while being an idiot. It follows that the man is not a fool and has some intelligence.” The latter statement implies that idiocy can’t be obtained after leaving office. Are there empirical data which support that statement? And how could the statement be falsified? Apparantly the single example of one ex-VP is not enough. Would it take a majority of ex-VP’s? Or is consensus required?

  16. Pat Moffitt

    “The wholesale, utopian, social engineer determined to impose his long-term policies no matter what the immediate discontents, is by his cloth precluded from learning from his mistakes. Nor can he take account of the insight that there will always be unintended consequences.” ANTONY FLEW, The Politics of Procrustes, 1981.

  17. Briggs

    Osynlige Mannen,

    First, mighty cool name. Second, death to “falsified” and its brothers. True theories can never be falsified, and no probabilistic theory can, either.

    I would say the burden of proof is on anybody who says Gore, Bush, Obama, etc. is of sub-intelligence.

  18. Briggs, my dear fellow, you pretend to have forgotten all about the Swedish language. As you well know; “Osynlige Mannen” merely means “the Invisible Man”. Invisibility serves one well, should one take a sceptic stance on the CO2-hypothesis. Furthermore I must protest your use of strawmen. Neither Bush nor Obama are ex-VP’s. But they may well be made of straw.

  19. Kevin

    Gore may not be of sub-intelligence, but one does not have to rank above mediocre to go far in politics if you are born The Prince of Tennessee.

  20. John M

    To add to what Donna Laframboise says, the man is an opportunist through-and-through.

    This is what Mr. Cap&Trade had to say when he was running for president.

    We ought to start with several releases of five million barrels each, and assuming that is successful, we should continue with these swaps in an effort to stabilize the price of oil at lower levels and help consumers. America’s energy resources should not be so reliant on others, so subject to shortages, so vulnerable to big oil interests, with disregard for the public interest. You ought to have the choice to get in your car, turn on your engine, and go where you want, all at a reasonable price to you and your family.

    The price of gas at the time had risen to about $1.50/gallon, and he was scrambling to not be blamed for it as part of the Clinton administration. I don’t think you can get to 350 ppm by “stabilizing the price of oil at lower levels” when the price of gas is already $1.50/gallon, but then, desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess.

    And hey, he hadn’t put his PowerPoint® presentation together yet.

  21. Bernie

    Perhaps what we are seeing with Gore and Global Warming is a variant of an academc’s search for the big question – the topic that wil ensure that he or she will be admired by their peers when the big question is answered. For politician’s it is the big issue – an issue that helps define them in the eyes of their peers and entrenches them in the corridors of power. Kennedy and healthcare, Nunn and defence and now Gore and Global Warming. The trick for politicians is to find a topic that noboody actually opposes – or would be dumb to oppose. Does this mean that one is genuinely interested in the topic? Perhaps, but that is not really the importance of the issue. It is primarily a means to hold on to power and galvanize a following.

  22. kdk33

    It’s religion, Gore is an acolyte:

    Only climate scientist (priests) know the truth (can talk to god). It would be dangerous for people to see the data (try to talk to god). People must give up fossil fuels (do penance) or there will be storms, flood, droughts (apocalypse). Scientists (priests) need $billions$ (offerings) to continue their work (conversations with god on behalf of the people). To become a climate scientist requires years of special training and sacrifice with little tangible reward; many fail (trust us, we are priests). We must act now, by the time you see the damage it will be too late (have faith).

    (evil) Oil company executives are delaying (wallowing in sin that leads to destruction). Paid (demonically possessed) industry shills spread disinformation (utter blasphemies). Critics must be silenced (burned at the stake) lest people become confused (tempted) and fail to act in time (fall from grace, refuse to do penance and make offerings) .

    The acolytes are helping the good priests save the world from the devil. Who’s gonna convince them otherwise?

  23. Donna, I am deeply impressed by your insightful and very well-written essays. I wonder if you might consider accepting some moderated comments? There are a variety of ways to accomplish that. You need not post anything on your site that you don’t like — but you might want to allow readers some positive feedback now and then.

    Briggs is open to some comments. So am I on my sites. They can be helpful and illuminating. Comments help me to see if I have been understood, sometimes to correct my mistakes (nobody is perfect), and so they aid me in honing my craft and improving my art.

  24. And Matt, the Royal Statistical Society issued a Memorandum on the Climategate inquiry. I am interested in your evaluation.

  25. ken

    RE: “Now, nobody can get to be a US Senator and then Vice President while being an idiot. It follows that the man is not a fool and has some intelligence.”

    NOT SO FAST: The politician reflects his electorate’s level of understanding, as note by H.L. Menchen relative to the president, the sentiment he expressed may be more broadly applicable:

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

  26. Briggs

    Uncle Mike,

    Please tell me you’re joking about the Royal Society.

  27. Matt said: “They [the left] are convinced that anybody who does not believe as they do is a fool, and imbecile, or is evil. We should not make the same mistake.” I agree.
    Did not mean to imply Gore is a fool or idiot.

    I used the term “charlatan” in it’s “quackery” sense, because his soooothing tone of voice as he explaaaaaiiiiins the “sciiiiiiiiiennnce” involved is directly reminiscent of snake oil salesmen pitching their wares to gullible marks. In my mind the insincerity he subconsciously exhibits during these “narrative spinning” episodes is extremely telling. I would love to read a real-life “Lie To Me” expert’s analysis of his audio tracks, but maybe that’s just me.

  28. No joke. Despite their checkered history, what the RSS had to say is important and worthy of examination. If statisticians don’t critique the RSS, then who will?

  29. “Now, nobody can get to be a US Senator and then Vice President while being an idiot.”

    This argument is true given its premises. Technically, Joe Biden is a moron.

  30. 6is9

    Al Gore. Al Gore. Who cares about Al Gore? Conservative climate science skeptics almost exclusively, the data suggests. My conservative brother in Texas probably hasn’t gone a day without disparaging Bill Clinton since 1991. It’s odd. It’s really odd. I would say telling.

    Whether or not man-made climate change is a fact that threatens human existence hardly matters. Even if the American political system could produce an adequate response (which it cannot), American media, aka the sounding board of idiots, would break down sustained public commitment in a morass of bullshit. The general public is soft selfish. and short-sighted. They’re ignorant of their own peril. have no larger world they by and large don’t think they need to respect. They imagine themselves compassionate for having texted “haiti” on their mobile phones and not complaining about the extra ten dollars on their bill. They want to be entertained or play with their toys.

    Americans love to bewail the fate of future generations who, alas, must now bear the burden of paying for our proflicacy. It is a joke. If Americans cared they would demand their taxes be increased so they can begin now to allevite as much of that burden as possible. They would also demand their infrastructure be repaired, their power grid be adequate to their needs and invulenerable to attack, They’d do whatever necessary to make sure future generations don’t have to fight wars in hostile desert nations to meet their dirty energy requirements by developing the best and most efficient energy sources possible. They’d make sure they were creating jobs that paid enough for their children to at least live in moderate comfort. They would make reforms to stabilize the financial system with safeguards to minimize the possibility of and impact from future market crashes.

    Americans will do none of this. Americans are not dupes to the cult of Climate Change Danger. Americans know that things can never really get bad for them, because if they one day discover they’d made a big mistake when they picked the smug scientist who knows he is not wrong when he denies they have responsibilities to face and followed his admonition to never worry and never ever pass cap & trade, and then went blissfully on their merry way. Had they picked that big group of smug scientists knows they re not wrong and followed their advice take reponsibility for their behavior and err on the side of caution maybe the outcome wouldn’t be as as disconcerting. Again, Americans know everything’s going to be alright. In the words of the Great Senator James Inhofe: “God’s still up there”.

  31. Alex Heyworth

    “Now, nobody can get to be a US Senator and then Vice President while being an idiot”. Dan Quayle? Gerald Ford? (although Ford was a Representative and not a Senator).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *