Former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreTrump's election fraud claims pose risks for GOP in midterms Don't 'misunderestimate' George W. Bush Why the pro-choice movement must go on the offensive MORE said he believes some Republicans are growing weary of colleagues who question climate change.
Many congressional Republicans are at odds with the scientific consensus that human activity, largely the burning of fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gases, is driving climate change.
Gore said proponents of action to decrease greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere are “winning the conversation,” in large part because of an increase in extreme weather events.
“Every night on the news, it’s like a nature hike through the book of revelations,” Gore said. “People are noticing this. And simultaneously they’re noticing the sharp drop in the cost of carbon-free, greenhouse gas-free energy, and the combination is pushing us over this political tipping point and the trend is unstoppable.”
Gore recalled being accused of demagoguery when his 2005 film, “An Inconvenient Truth” contained an animated scene showing ocean water flooding the World Trade Center memorial site.
“It happened last Oct. 29, years ahead of schedule,” he said, referring to the day Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast. “And the impact of that and many, many other similar events here and around the world has really begun to create a profound shift.”
While scientists generally avoid linking individual extreme weather events to climate change, they agree its effects — such as warmer waters and higher sea levels — can exacerbate storms.
Those types of events could prove a watershed moment in discussing climate change and its impact, Gore argued.
“They’re stronger now,” he said of storms. “The extreme events are more extreme. The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.”
Gore criticized President Obama during his first term for not acting boldly enough to address climate change.
But in June, Obama delivered a major address emphasizing his intention to make the issue a top priority. Rather than waiting for the divided Congress to act on new legislation, Obama unveiled plans to enact regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.
Gore said he was encouraged by that plan, even as he acknowledged legislative setbacks in efforts to combat global warming.
Republican opposition to a “cap-and-trade” system that would put new limits on greenhouse gas emissions has only strengthened, at least publicly. But Gore said he sees movement beneath the surface.
“[M]any Republicans who’re still timid on the issue are now openly embarrassed about the extreme deniers,” he said. “The deniers are being hit politically. They’re being subjected to ridicule, which stings.”
This story was updated at 6 p.m.