Al Gore told members of The Climate Project in a July conference call, "Reality is on our side."
Robert Parham presents Al Gore with a "green Bible" at the New Baptist Covenant celebration in Atlanta in January 2008. (Photo: NewBaptistCelebration.org)
He announced the rebranding of the organization from The Climate Project to The Climate Reality Project, and he unveiled a global reality event set for Sept. 14-15, 2011.
"Across the globe cataclysmic weather events are occurring with such regularity that it is being called a new normal," said Gore in a video posted a week after the conference call. "But there is nothing normal about it. And there is something else that lies destroyed amid the rubble – the truth about climate change."
"Big oil and big coal are spending big money to spread doubt about climate change," said Gore. "Fossil fuel interests have money, influence, control. But together we have something they don't. Reality."
The key word here is reality. And Gore is right to prioritize reality.
"[T]he whole presentation by the deniers, and large carbon polluters and their ideological allies, has depended on their efforts to undermine the credibility of the science. And toward that end they have slandered these scientists by implying and sometimes baldly stating the accusation that they are distorting and manufacturing science in order to win more research grants," said Gore in an exclusive interview with Joe Romm at Climate Progress.
"Alternatively, the scientists are often accused of having a secret political agenda as some of the leaders in the denier community have argued – and the whole climate crisis is just a ruse to enact a political agenda. And of course both of those overlapping accusations are absurd as well as insulting and fraudulent," said the former vice president, who spoke at the 2008 New Baptist Covenant and later held a climate-change training event for faith leaders that included a number of Baptists.
Gore said that "the truth is we've passed the threshold beyond which it's any longer credible to say that the climate crisis is not a factor in a great many of these extreme weather events."
The day after Gore's conference call, The Atlantic posted an article titled "An Era of Tornadoes: How Global Warming Causes Wild Winds."
Paul Epstein, a medical doctor at Harvard Medical School who is trained in tropical public health, wrote: "Too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, too windy. The operative word is 'too,' and it is the exaggeration of normal weather events that defines the changing climate."
Epstein explained that "global warming is ... causing climate change, including altered weather patterns, and the engine of change is the heat building up deep inside the world's oceans. Water is warming, ice is melting, and water vapor is rising."
If one experienced the Nashville flood or the Joplin tornado, one knows that extreme weather events are not normal. Something is wrong – record floods, record snow falls, record droughts, record downpours, record heat.
Two groups of people continue to deny reality. First are those with an economic interest in maintaining profits from carbon pollution – big oil and big coal. Second are people of faith.
The second group denies reality because they read the Bible literally and can find no proof text to accept the reality of global warming.
The reality is that the Bible calls people of faith to care for creation. The Genesis creation message assigns human beings with the responsibility for the garden.
The text says "till it and keep it" (Genesis 2:15). Then, the text reinforces the message with the assignment to name the creatures (Genesis 2:19-20). Naming bears the obligation of responsibility.
Reality is on the side of science and faith. We need people of faith to be on reality's side.
I've placed on my calendar the Sept. 14-15 dates for the global event – 24 hours of reality.
"24 Hours of Reality will be broadcast live online from Sept. 14 to 15, over 24 hours, in 24 times zones in 13 languages" reads The Climate Reality Project website.
Let's hope goodwill faith leaders will add their voice to this global event – for reality's sake.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.