November 4, 2009

"Beckons you, to enter his web of sin..."

Does anyone seriously think Al Gore is going to become some kind of "Greenfinger" character -- that is, use his wealth to turn the world into some kind of eco-dystopia? One could be forgiven for thinking that after reading this terrible NYT piece about Gore's investments in clean energy. As Dave Roberts ably observed, the article can be boiled down to two propositions, each of which contradicts the other:
  1. Some people (read: A right-wing congresswoman and a former aide to James Inhofe) say that Gore is hyping up the threat of climate change in order to profit from his investments in green technology.
  2. Gore says that he donates all profits from his investments to his nonprofit group, the Alliance for Climate Protection.
That's a thin frame, needless to say, on which to hang a story. (Unless Gore is lying, but the NYT article gives no indication that he is -- probably because he's not.)

In fact, Gore's investments aren't even the most interesting thing about Al Gore. For that, you'll have to look at the latest Newsweek, which has a fascinating profile of Gore and how his views on climate change have evolved over the years. In particular, he seems to be coming to the position that reforming agricultural practices so that more carbon is sequestered and fewer methane emissions are released could be the most profitable near-term strategy for tackling climate change, moreso even than cutting carbon emissions in the commercial and industrial sectors. Of course, since most of the worst offenders in agriculture (and also forestry), in terms of GHG emissions, are in developing countries like Brazil and Indonesia, convincing them to change their ways will require some buy-in on our part: Carbon pricing, obviously, but also a re-evaluation of our own practices that contribute to the problem. Cutting down on, say, meat consumption, as Nicolas Stern recently suggested, would be one place to start.

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