Earth to Al Gore

Al Gore is in Chicago today meeting with President-elect Obama to talk about “energy, climate change, and job creation.” This has raised speculation that Obama plans to appoint him as a special “climate czar.” However, it’s far more likely that Obama is just consulting with Gore on his upcoming choice for secretary of energy. Gore’s ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
591230_081209_gore5.jpg
591230_081209_gore5.jpg

Al Gore is in Chicago today meeting with President-elect Obama to talk about "energy, climate change, and job creation." This has raised speculation that Obama plans to appoint him as a special "climate czar."

However, it's far more likely that Obama is just consulting with Gore on his upcoming choice for secretary of energy. Gore's staffers have made it clear that he has no intention of joining the administration:

"Vice President Gore feels now that his calling really is to educate Americans about the climate crisis," Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said Tuesday morning.

Al Gore is in Chicago today meeting with President-elect Obama to talk about “energy, climate change, and job creation.” This has raised speculation that Obama plans to appoint him as a special “climate czar.”

However, it’s far more likely that Obama is just consulting with Gore on his upcoming choice for secretary of energy. Gore’s staffers have made it clear that he has no intention of joining the administration:

“Vice President Gore feels now that his calling really is to educate Americans about the climate crisis,” Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said Tuesday morning.

“He served for 30 years in electoral politics in the House, Senate and as vice president and surely understands the great importance of serving in those types of roles and in public service, but just feels now that his calling is in educating the public and in the roles that he’s serving now at the Alliance for Climate Protection.”

I find this disappointing. It was one thing for Gore to take up the role of climate change evangelist when he had just lost an election and frankly didn’t have much else to do. His message resonated more than anyone could have anticipated and he picked up a Nobel Peace Prize, on Oscar, and made himself a very wealthy man along the way.

But now, Gore finally has a president who’s largely sympathetic to his message and it’s hard to believe that he really has more of an impact as a spokesman than he would with a role in government. Folksy commercials about wind farmers stickin’ it to “the boys in Tehran” aren’t going to cut carbon emissions. But a serious cap-and-trade system possibly could. Getting such a system in place is going to take someone with some serious political chops, for instance, a guy with over 15 years of experience in congress and eight in the White House.

Al Gore’s been a great international spokesman. But the climate crisis doesn’t need its own Bono, it needs a serious and capable political leader. It’s time for the Gore-acle to get his hands dirty again.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.