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Al Gore's Hypocrisy: The Climate Crusader Profits from Fossil Fuels

By Robert Rapier | Wed, 06 February 2013 23:20 | 15

Oil Money is Bad Money, Except When…

Al Gore has just released a new book — The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change  — and is on a media tour to promote it. But he has had to face some very uncomfortable questions involving a charge that has been around for a while: That Al Gore is a hypocrite.

The hypocrisy charge has been raised against Gore over the years. Until now, the most infamous incident of apparent hypocrisy took place in 2007 when it was widely reported that Al Gore’s mansion had a utility bill about 20 times more than the average family home. (See Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’? — A $30,000 Utility Bill). I found the news troubling; after all Gore was the Conservationist-in-Chief but he certainly didn’t appear to be walking his talk.

But I also wrote that if he was running a staff out of his home, then the higher electric bills were more understandable. I also learned at the time just how rabidly partisan people can be when discussing Gore. Some on the left would not tolerate criticism of Gore, and I was vilified for saying that I was disappointed in his behavior.

But, I really wanted to like Al Gore. I thought of him as someone who was making a positive impact by calling attention to a serious problem, and getting people to conserve. I defended him when people noted that Gore traveled around the world in fossil-fueled jets. After all, I argued, if he traveled halfway around the world but convinced 500 people in a foreign country to become involved and take action, then the net impact could easily be lower carbon emissions as a result of his travels.

I even have an award on my desk signed by Gore. In 1996 I traveled to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. and received the 1996 Green Chemistry Challenge Award as part of Professor Mark Holtzapple’s research team at Texas A&M. The award was presented by Carol Browner, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and it was autographed by Vice President Al Gore. I imagined at the time that some day Gore would become president, and I would show that award with pride to visitors.

I say all of this, because I want to make it clear that I didn’t set out to dislike Al Gore. But I have come to the conclusion that he is in fact one of the worst hypocrites I have ever seen.

Hypocrisy: When a Climate Change Crusader Sells Out to Fossil Fuels

Gore has vilified fossil fuel usage for decades. In his new book, he writes “Virtually every news and political commentary program on television is sponsored in part by oil, coal and gas companies — not just during campaign seasons, but all the time, year in and year out — with messages designed to soothe and reassure the audience that everything is fine, the global environment is not threatened.”

Related article: Why Delta Airlines are Ruing the Day they Bought their own Refinery

But what did Gore turn around and do? He sold his Current TV network to Al Jazeera for $500 million. Gore reportedly pocketed $100 million, and in another widely reported story he is alleged to have pushed to get the transaction completed before higher tax rates kicked in on January 1 of this year.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that Al Jazeera is funded by Qatar, which receives the bulk of its wealth from fossil fuels. Gore was grilled over this apparent hypocrisy, first by Matt Lauer:

Lauer challenged him on the fact that he had criticized the influence of fossil fuel money in television, but then got very wealthy selling his network to another network that exists because of fossil fuel money. Al Jazeera had the money to pay Gore $500 million because of fossil fuels. Lauer asked Gore if he saw a contradiction in his position. While Gore said he understands the criticism, he disagrees with it because Al Jazeera is a great network and has won major awards.

Now, someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t ever recall Gore saying that it was OK to take fossil fuel money in television as long as the network is a good network or is one that has won awards. He is engaging in the logical fallacy of special pleading, which is where someone applies a special exemption to their rules when those rules contradict their actions. For example:

Al Gore: “You should never run a red light.”

Me: “But you just ran a red light.”

Al Gore: “Yes, but I was in a hurry.”

I can apply the same special pleading to any oil company and justify consuming their oil since they make charitable contributions and invest in renewables.

Gore was also grilled on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show (one of the only TV programs I regularly watch). Jon was polite with the questions, but he went after Gore several times over the apparent hypocrisy:

Here is an excerpt of their exchange:

Jon Stewart: “You had an opportunity to make a statement, probably, about your principles, and some people would feel, and for me as well, I thought it was an odd move. Not because of some of the other things, but because it is backed by fossil fuel money.”

Al Gore: “I get it. I get it. I get it. But it was an easy choice after doing the diligence on the network itself.”

Related article: Oil Majors Support C02 Tax in Canada

Jon Stewart: “Can you see how people at home might think — but he’s asking me in my life to make choices about light bulbs and a cost-benefit analysis for the purpose of sustainability when I just want to see my book. That’s the issue.”

Al Gore: “I’m very, very comfortable with it. I completely get the criticism, but this was a good choice and the net benefit for the U.S. is going to be very positive.”

Yes, Al Gore appears to be very comfortable in selling out his principles for a $100 million profit. And at least he “gets” the criticism. He disagrees that it is hypocrisy, apparently on the basis that he doesn’t like the word hypocrisy.

Stewart highlighted the fact that Gore could have made a statement about his principles, but at the end of the day Gore determined that the cost-benefit analysis benefited him enough to be comfortable with taking fossil fuel money.

Cost-Benefit — For Whom?

What Gore doesn’t seem to understand is that this is the same cost-benefit analysis that results in the world’s rising use of fossil fuels. He is like many environmentalists who don’t seem to understand the real reasons we are dependent upon fossil fuels. They would rather blame the fossil fuel companies and their various lobbying and subsidies than blame the real culprit — the desire of consumers to have affordable and reliable energy.

Poor people across the developing world determine that their contribution to climate change is insignificant relative to the benefit they will receive from introducing heat and electricity into their homes. Every day millions of people around the world determine that the benefit of them filling up with gasoline and driving to work outweighs the cost of their fossil fuel consumption. Everyone — Mr. Gore — can argue that the cost-benefit analysis favors their usage of fossil fuels. People from all walks of life — including staunch environmentalists — use fossil fuels every day and justify it based on the cost-benefit to themselves. Even Bill McKibben once admitted that he was a hypocrite, but like you he rationalized his hypocrisy.

And that, in a nutshell, is why the world is so dependent (and becoming more dependent) upon fossil fuels. People determine that the benefits of using fossil fuels outweigh the cost. You aren’t special Mr. Gore. You did what others do every day. The only difference is that you have used a bully pulpit for years to urge people to sacrifice and make different choices. Yet when faced with the same cost-benefit analysis, you proved to the world that you are the hypocrite many always believed you to be.

Al Gore’s “activism” has been a money maker on a tremendous scale. He has made a mint selling indulgences — er, I mean “carbon offsets” — and in some cases even sold them to himself in order to claim that his (very high) carbon footprint was neutral. So while he’s busy taking the high road telling people what to do, he himself not only goes and profits off of that (creates network, sells it) but his profit comes from the very same people/industry he built his reputation on by vilifying and imploring people to avoid.

I realize that Saint Al can do no wrong in some people’s eyes, and some will (wrongly) conclude that this is a partisan attack. It is nothing of the sort. But I will never attempt to defend Gore again. I also hope to never hear his voice again. It grates on my nerves now, because all I hear now are the ramblings of a hypocritical windbag.

By Robert Rapier

Source: http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2013/02/05/al-gore-profits-from-fossil-fuels-he-vilified/

About the author

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  • Jason Wolfe on February 07 2013 said:
    How do you know that Al-Jazeera only exists because of oil money? What proof do you have of the connection between oil and Al-Jazeera? They sell ads. Maybe they pay for themselves. How can you simply assume that connection without some access to financial information?

    And assuming the connection, so what? Gore was calling for climate change legislation, not for individual action. Consider the following principle: "I am not going to be more moral than I have to if you don't have to with me." I posit that most people live like that, and few people choose to live as saints.
  • mj on February 07 2013 said:
    Although I just made the below comment on the recent oilprice.com article of Chu's departure from the DOE, it fits right in with the above hypocrisy.

    If the above commenter wants to worship a hypocrit, live a diminished standard of living while his "bhagwan"

    ( http://www.bing.com/search?q=bhagwan+rajneesh+oregon&qs=AS&form=QBLH&pq=bogwan&sc=5-6&sp=3&sk=AS2 )

    lives the good life, that is his choice. but do not force your religion (nor the cost of supporting your "bhagwan" on me.


    mj on February 05 2013 said:
    The revolving door continues. Democrat or Republican, the corruption is rampant. They are all there to spend other people’s money for their personal benefit and that of their cohorts.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2013/01/23/experts-arent-deities-n1493995
    http://www.energytribune.com/71647/obamas-bonfire-of-green-energy-inanities
    http://www.thestreet.com/story/11727215/1/al-gore-walks-away-from-green-energy.html
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/20/us-autos-electriccars-idUSBRE88J1IP20120920
    http://indrus.in/articles/2012/12/11/wind_farms_no_match_for_nuclear_power_plants_19699.html
    http://www.energytribune.com/67789/greenpeace-wwf-wind-claims-blown-away
    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2013/01/100-million-worth-oil-money-richer-al-gore-doesnt-get-why-critics-are-being-so-critical/61560/

    http://www.energytribune.com/72221/the-corruption-of-wind-energy
    http://www.energytribune.com/71995/electricitys-hidden-costs-than-economic-impact
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/01/fox-news-confirms-energy-secretary-steven-chu-to-step-down/
    http://www.energytribune.com/70889/global-warming-just-isnt-happening-official
  • Kyle Sager on February 07 2013 said:
    Best I can tell, Al had three choices:

    (1) Fold up at a loss. Completely write off Current TV. Throw the effort in the trash.

    (2) Sell to Al Jazeera - Not ideal; but they not only are a terrific network, They do a great job with climate.

    (3) Sell to Glenn Beck - Probably for less than Al Jazeera would pay...Who knows; but Glenn's basically got his own gig now because his services were no longer required elsewhere.

    I wish there had been other options, too; but I think publicly trashing Gore non-stop for the sale is counterproductive. Nothing about CurrentTV is going to promote oil.
  • johneurope on February 07 2013 said:
    Oil Gore,
    has always been a Hypocrit nothing new in this, just more people know it now; but many the finatics will not belive it. Hypocrit Oil Gore is their God so to speak can do no wrong....
  • S. Weil on February 07 2013 said:
    I think there is a confusion here between policy and life choices. For example, I think that in the US the mortgage interest deduction and subsidization of mortgages through government backed securities is bad economic policy - yet I own a house with a mortgage and declare the deduction on my taxes - does that make me a hypocrite? Even if we do a counter-factual where some kind of carbon taxation in line with Gore's position had been in effect - Qatar would still have had plenty of oil money to do with whatever they wanted including buying the network.
  • John D on February 07 2013 said:
    Mr. Gore has always been a hipocrite. Did the administration he was a part of push the Kyoto agreement? I distinctly remember when he was running for president he came out pushing for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be tapped to keep oil prices down for consumers.
  • Paul Krauss on February 07 2013 said:
    My question to the author.

    Now that Al Gore has become a hypocrat, are we to conclude that there is no climate change going on? That everything he so convincingly laid out was false?

    Even if sells out totally and declares that everything he said about the environment was a mere acid-trip, the global warming issue is still real for the world.
  • Steve R. on February 07 2013 said:
    Based on the barely legible comments about hypocrisy that veer off of the original, I'm not sure why I am even bothering to post this, but sometimes you have to point out the forest for the trees.

    Saying Al Gore profits from fossil fuels in this case is looking at this transaction in a very one sided and myopic view. Take the broad example of an oil major investing in a solar farm. Or a chemical manufacturer taking an interest in a renewable company (both of which have happened). In both of these examples the solar or renewable player profited from a fossil fuel company, so what, it's a good thing if you think we will eventually run out of oil, think fossil fuels pollute, or want to re-shore technology and business to the USA.

    Mr. Gore is selling a news outfit to a news station that is obviously interested in the style and content of Current TV. Whether or not Al-Jazeera was/is backed by Qatar is just an interesting side-note, instead of framing this as "Al Gore profits from fossil fuels" it could be written as "Fossil industry backed Al-Jazeera invests in enviro news outfit" Unfortunately it is apparent this piece (75% of which is a re-hash of old news) is just another attack in the old "science v. human ignorance" struggle.
  • Bruce Ritchie on February 08 2013 said:
    Herman Daly also criticizes greenwashing and generally tapping funds from business as usual, in order to fund environmental causes. I am glad you agree with his concept that these funds NEVER compensate for the dirty business that created the money. It makes sense, then, that you must support his ideas that we should embrace a reduction in our consumption habits, and in our population until both are at ZERO GROWTH. Anything less is biting the hand that feeds you, by compromising the earth's functions which make our lives possible. Who would be so malicious or unaware?
  • Robert B. on February 08 2013 said:
    My guess is that: according to the left leaning global warmers there's nothing but good things to say about Oil Gore and his self-serving BS...should you think otherwise, prepare to be burned at the stake.
    As far as global warming is concerned, never mind the fact that warming and cooling cycles have existed for eons of time (rumor has it that prehistoric gas burning cave warmers were unearthed, along with some fifty-thousand year old Styrofoam cups, God forbid). Like Oil Gore, none these left leaning idiots are willing to give modern day conveniences (your car, microwave, computer, cell phone, hot water, flushing toilet, etc.)
  • diana j on February 10 2013 said:
    "For two decades Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person in 2008.[34] This is about 60 per cent more than one of the next highest per-capita emitting country, which is Kuwait at 30.7 metric tons, more than the double of the emissions of people in the United States. Other sources state that by 2007, Qatar’s emission rate increased to 69 tons per person per year.[35] Qatar had the highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions for the past 18 years. These emissions are largely due to high rates of energy use in Qatar. Major uses of energy in Qatar include air conditioning, natural gas processing, water desalination and electricity production."

    the above is from wikipedia....that ALONE is one huge reason not to sell to al jazeera. this goes against eveything al gore claims he stood for and has been jamming down our throats for years. he is a complete bullshitter and sellout. what does he care? he is not going to run for office anymore so he can make any sleazy immoral hypocritical business deal he wants to and so what if he gets criticized....he is very rich and doesn't have to give a crap...but we are all supposed to use those stupid curly lightbulbs that provide poor quality light and trigger seizures, to conserve energy. i was a huge gore believer and i feel dupped. he has absolutely no credibilty to me anymore and he has set back the whole energy conservation movement because people will equate his bshit with the entire movement and distrust it and be dismissive.
  • Spurwing Plover on April 19 2013 said:
    Back when Gore was running for president in 2000 the SIERRA CLUB was calling Gore their GREAT GREEN HOPE. And lets not forget Gore wants to elimnate the ENTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE the very ones that are in all his limos and he wrote two books full of lies and hypocracy and his undeserved award for his junk science film Becuase anyway you slice it Gore still lives ina home using electricity and water
  • M. Kenny on January 03 2014 said:
    "...and some pigs are more equal than others".

    George Orwell was inconveniently prescient.
  • Allen Hodges on February 13 2014 said:
    I wouldn't trust anyone who blatantly criticizes the fossil fuel industry, and then climbs aboard a big metal tube and is whisked quickly and comfortably across the sea propelled by.....fossil fuel.
    It's like the old bumper sticker, "Don't criticize farmers with your mouth full".
  • Spurwing Plover on March 26 2014 said:
    If Al Gore was realy so serious about this Global Warming poppycock then he would go live on a mountian top without any of those luxeries he is so used to but as we all know he is like most of his kind he is a hypotcrit with unearned Nobel prize and a oscar as well

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