Speaking last Wednesday on a celebrity panel in New York, the Nobel Prize Laureate proclaimed: “If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration.” He added, “clean coal does not exist.”
Mr. Gore didn’t explain how far he thinks his young acolytes should go in their rage against the coal-burning machines that provide about 50% of U.S. electricity. Sit-ins? Marches against power plants? How about trashing power lines: What could he mean by “civil disobedience”?
Funny thing is, as the WSJ notes, the anti-coal campaigns often target new production that would replace older, more polluting power generation. Duke Energy’s Cliffside power plant would cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 80 percent and nitrogen oxide by 50 percent. To the ramparts!
In the Christian Science Monitor, columnist Eoin O’Carroll wonders why Gore is leaving it up to the young people to break the law. From “Does Al Gore think he’s too old for civil disobedience?”
Leaving aside whether breaking the law is ever justified, it seems odd that Gore doesn’t seem to include himself in the category of the “young people” he thinks should risk jail to halt global warming. After all, at age 71, Ghandi was arrested and served two years in prison. The US labor organizer Mother Jones was still facing charges of sedition in her 80s. Even TV president Martin Sheen, who is eight years older than Gore, managed to get himself arrested at an antinuclear action in Nevada last year, for what he says is the 65th time.
Guess there’s no “three-strikes you’re out” for trespassing.
In any case, it seems clear that Gore’s a dilettante when it comes to civil disobediance, not bothering to recognize its ability to persude rests in individual sacrifice, not endless Powerpoint presentations.
UPDATE: (10:30 a.m.) From The Chilling Effect: