Climate skeptics have "polluted" public debate on global warming using the same tactics tobacco companies once employed to deny the health risks of smoking, former Vice President Al Gore said last week.
"Some of the exact same people -- by name, I can go down a list of their names -- are involved in this," Gore said Thursday at an Aspen Institute forum in Aspen, Colo. "And so what do they do? They pay pseudo-scientists to pretend to be scientists to put out the message: 'This climate thing, it's nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn't trap heat. It's not -- It may be volcanoes.' Bullshit! 'It may be sun spots.' Bullshit! 'It's not getting warmer.' Bullshit!"
He continued: "There are about 10 other memes that are out there, and when you go and talk to any audience about climate, you hear them washing back at you the same crap, over and over and over again. They have polluted this shit. There is no longer shared reality on an issue like climate, even though the very existence of our civilization is threatened."
Gore's remarks were reported Friday by news website RealAspen.com and Carbondale, Colo., NPR affiliate KDNK.
Both news organizations have posted partial audio of Gore's remarks, and a third, AspenJournalism.org, has put up a full recording.
However, the Aspen Institute said Monday it does not plan to make a full recording or transcript available.
Climate 'no longer acceptable in mixed company'
Gore "was at another conference and came over to speak to our group at late notice (at the request of a friend)," said Charlie Firestone, executive director of the Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program. "He was not a regular participant, so did not know, as the others did, that the conference was being streamed. ... We are according our normal rule of 'not for attribution.'"
Gore spent more than an hour addressing the institute's Forum on Communications and Society, Firestone said, "covering topics of the history of communication, neurobiology and civic discourse."
But it was the former vice president-turned-environmental activist's comments on climate skeptics that drew news coverage -- and subsequently lit up the conservative blogosphere this weekend.
"It's no longer acceptable in mixed company, meaning bipartisan company, to use the goddamned word 'climate,'" Gore said. "It's not acceptable. They have polluted this to the point where we cannot possibly come to an agreement on it because of this organized activity."
The same tactics used by climate skeptics and the tobacco industry were also deployed during the recent debt-ceiling debate, Gore added.
"During the debt-ceiling debate, Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity and a collection of smaller groups did exactly the same thing," Gore said. "Unnoticed in Washington and New York, as the debt-ceiling debate was going on, the ratio of television advertisements was 9-to-1 -- 9-to-1! -- on the 'Don't-lift-the-debt-ceiling' debate. 'Spending is the problem. We have to shrink government.' And now we're going to tip the country back into recession. It's absolutely insane."