New York (CNSNews.com) - Former Vice President Al Gore used religious references Thursday night in New York City in an attempt to convince a "town hall" meeting that human-caused catastrophic climate change is real.
Gore's "Town Hall on the Climate Crisis," held at a New York theater, was timed to coincide with the release of his "global warming" disaster film, "An Inconvenient Truth," distributed by a division of Paramount Pictures.
Gore compared global warming skeptics to conspiracy theorists who believe the U.S. faked the moon landing in 1969. He also announced that he supports a "petroleum tax," and he suggested a boycott of the oil giant Exxon-Mobil for its allegedly poor environmental record.
Another panelist appearing with Gore compared the effort to combat "global warming" to the 19th century movement to end slavery in the U.S.
"Every faith tradition has teachings that are directly on point [to climate change]," Gore told the packed audience, which included former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.
"The Book of Revelation [says] God will destroy those who destroy his creation," Gore said, noting that some evangelical Christian leaders have expressed concern about climate change. "Whatever works," Gore added, prompting applause and laughter.
Gore departed the event, sponsored by Wired Magazine, with his wife Tipper in a chauffeur-driven black Lincoln Town Car provided by a New York City limousine service.
Gore noted that the Bible promotes good stewardship of the Earth. "Noah was commanded to preserve biodiversity," he said.
Lawrence Bender, the director of Gore's documentary, echoed the religious undertones when he described the conversion of his home to solar energy.
"I have become evangelical basically," Bender said during the two-hour panel discussion. Joining Gore and Bender were NASA scientist James Hansen, celebrity activist Laurie David and former Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry, who is currently a contributing editor to Wired Magazine. The panel discussion did not include any scientists who are skeptical about human-caused global warming.
An impassioned Gore employed apocalyptic language in urging the crowd to believe that Earth's climate is in crisis because of human activity.
"If you believe what [NASA scientist] Jim Hansen said just a moment ago -- if you believe, if you accept the reality that we may have less than 10 years before we cross a point of no return -- if you believe that, this is a time for action," Gore said.
He suggested that the current inhabitants of the Earth are facing a "collision between our civilization and the planet."
"People [who] are alive today have been placed at a point in history that puts on us the burden of action that is almost unimaginable in the context of human history," Gore said.
"We are the most powerful force of nature now. We are literally changing the relationship between the Earth and the Sun," he said. "It has the capacity to bring civilization itself to a dead halt."
Hockenberry compared the righteousness of combating "global warming" to the movement to abolish African American slavery in the 19th century.
"We are here at a similar moment. We are witnesses to the emergence of an issue that could not be more urgent," Hockenberry insisted.
'Giant wake-up call'
Other panelists also used dire rhetoric to convince the audience that action must be taken to stave off what they believe is climate doom caused by the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
"I am hoping that [Gore's] movie will be a giant wake-up call for this country," Laurie David told Cybercast News Service before the event began. David, the wife of comedian/director/producer Larry David, served as the producer for "An Inconvenient Truth."
"It's embarrassing that [the U.S. is] not leading on this issue," David said. "I don't even consider this an environment issue anymore. I really consider this a national security issue -- a public health issue," she added.
Despite the urgent call to action, Gore conceded that little can be done to combat what he termed a "planetary emergency."
He said politics falls short of "the minimum necessary to really address this crisis."
Gore dismissed the scientists who are skeptical of catastrophic human-caused climate change, comparing them to industry-funded tobacco scientists who denied a link between smoking and cancer.
"There is no longer any debate. The consensus is as strong as it ever gets in science," Gore said. "[There is] still a percentage of people who think that the moon landing was staged," he added.
Gore also accused the oil and gas industry of attempting to mislead the public on the urgency of climate change.
"Some of the executives of Exxon-Mobil will soon look back and feel ashamed of what they're doing by confusing the debate," he said. "I don't know why it's considered no longer acceptable to have a boycott of companies like Exxon-Mobil," he added to applause.
Gore also said he supported a "petroleum tax" as long as it was "revenue neutral" and did not place an undue burden on poor Americans.
Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, agreed with Gore's characterization of climate science and wondered what culpability the U.S. will face from the consequences of "global warming."
"When nations must abandon their lands because of rising seas, what will our legal liability be?" Hansen asked.
Gore praised Hansen as an objective scientist, ignoring his partisan Democratic Party ties. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Hansen also has acted as a consultant to Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming," on which the movie is based.
Hansen, who alleged in January that the Bush administration has been suppressing science for political purposes, previously acknowledged that he once emphasized "extreme scenarios" on climate change to drive the public's attention to the issue.
In the March 2004 issue of Scientific American, Hansen wrote, "Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate-forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions."
Hansen defended the $250,000 grant from the foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, during an interview with Cybercast News Service following Thursday's panel discussion.
"That was an environmental award," Hansen said. "I can't imagine anyone would turn down an environmental award. You don't check the politics of who provides the awards. I frankly don't understand the question," he added.
Hansen bristled when Cybercast News Service asked him about his "extreme scenarios" quote.
"It's pure horsesh**. That statement was taken out of context. I did not say that I had ever used extreme scenarios," Hansen insisted before ending the interview.
See Related Articles:
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