Gore raps Obama on climate change in post-Sandy speech

NEW YORK Thu Dec 6, 2012 3:51pm EST

Former U.S. Vice President and Current TV Chairman and co-founder Al Gore speaks during the panel for Current TV's ''Politically Direct'' at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California January 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Former U.S. Vice President and Current TV Chairman and co-founder Al Gore speaks during the panel for Current TV's ''Politically Direct'' at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California January 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore on Thursday sharply criticized President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, for failing to make global warming a priority issue, saying action was more urgent than ever after the devastation in the Northeast from Superstorm Sandy.

"I deeply respect our president and I am grateful for the steps that he has taken, but we cannot have four more years of mentioning this occasionally and saying it's too bad that the Congress can't act," Gore told the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Gore was the surprise guest to introduce New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spoke about the city's response to Sandy, which slammed into the city on October 29, killing 43 people, destroying homes, and knocking out power, mass transit and telephone service in huge swaths of the city.

Nationally, the storm caused at least $50 billion in damage and killed at least 131 people, officials said.

Much of Lower Manhattan flooded from the storm surge, a danger many climate scientists warn will become more acute as the burning of fossil fuels contributes to higher global temperatures that speed the melting of polar ice, raising sea levels.

Bloomberg has long sounded alarm bells about climate change and the city's vulnerability to major storms. His blueprint for infrastructure needs, called PlaNYC, aims to cut the city's carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2030 and he has pushed to limit dependence on coal, a leading source of carbon emissions.

Bloomberg showed a picture of Gore and himself painting a city roof with white paint, a technique that keeps temperatures down and helps cut energy consumption.

The mayor also echoed some of Gore's sentiments about leadership in Washington, saying cities were "not waiting for national governments to act on climate change."

But Bloomberg added: "We had help from every part of the federal government. Everything we asked for we had. Now we've got to get some money out of them, but that's another issue."

The city has asked Washington for $9.8 billion to pay for costs from Sandy not covered by insurance or other federal funds.

Much of Gore's remarks centered on leaders in Washington, who he said had abdicated responsibility on carbon as humans treat the atmosphere as an "open sewer."

Gore, a long-time environmental advocate who served under President Bill Clinton, helped raise awareness on climate change by narrating the hit documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which won two Academy Awards in 2007.

"Our democracy has been hacked," Gore said. "And when the large part of polluters and their ideological allies tell the members of Congress to jump, they do say, 'how high?' And we need leadership in the executive branch as well."

While saying New York must be more prepared for storms, Bloomberg was defiant that the city will not flee from its 520 miles of shoreline.

"Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront ... But we can't just rebuild what was there and hope for the best. We have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainably," Bloomberg said.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked for $41.9 billion in federal disaster assistance, including $9.1 billion for projects to prevent and mitigate damage from future storms.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Vicki Allen)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
cpasteve wrote:
The sky is falling, the sky is falling.

Dec 06, 2012 6:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
RHoff wrote:
Gore is right to hold Obama accountable. Very many of us feel that if based on his negligence on climate change issues, Obama didn’t deserve re-election. Sadly, he has been far too silent; perhaps too concerned about offending the small minority of Americans who still ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus and evidence that human activities (and population growth) have set us up for increasing disasters.

Dec 07, 2012 1:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jhvance wrote:
It’s currently an exceedingly tough political environment in the US for anyone in a position of power or real authority to take a strong, principled stand for serious action to mitigate the effects of a changing climate (much less address the underlying anthropogenic-based activities that are direct influencing factors) against the deep and wide array of interests within the country which have serious vested interests in the continuation of long-established business-as-usual practices and institutional processes upon which so many corporate enterprises and individual lifestyles have been predicated.

Those who claim skepticism or deny outright that humans have had or could have any role in a forcing effect toward changes in climatic conditions follow a consistent pattern of demagoguery and use of propaganda to belittle, dismiss or attempt to refute through misrepresentation or falsehoods the ever-increasing body of scientific evidence that more and more strongly indicates otherwise. Al Gore is perhaps an easy target to mock given his own privileged upbringing and personal history, but his message accurately skewers the failure of American leadership on a global issue of vast importance to this country, and to all other countries as well.

Dec 07, 2012 4:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.