Al Gore Says Climate Change Deniers Should Pay ‘a Price’

The former vice president lashed out at those who doubt the science that he says shows global warming is real.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks during an interview at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

If former Vice President Al Gore had his way, denying global warming would carry repercussions. 

Speaking at the South by Southwest technology conference in Austin, Texas, Gore called climate change “accepted science," and said that government officials who continue to deny it should pay a "price." 

"We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends,” Gore said, referring to a proposed federal cap-and-trade system that would penalize companies that exceeded their carbon-emission limits. “And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics."

Since his contested defeat to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, Gore has become perhaps the leading voice in spreading the science behind climate change. An Inconvenient Truth, a 2006 documentary about global warming based on a lecture Gore gave on the subject, served to educate many Americans about the dangers of rising temperatures, but also helped harden skepticism among some Republicans. 

“We have this denial industry cranked up constantly,” Gore said during his speech Friday. “In addition to 99 percent of the scientists and all the professional scientific organizations, now Mother Nature is weighing in.”

As Secretary of State John Kerry did a day earlier, Gore referenced reports that Florida Governor Rick Scott's administration banned officials in the state's Department of Environmental Protection from using the terms "climate change" and "global warming." 

"Now, folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say 'climate change,'" Kerry said in a speech before the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. "Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible."

While the "price" that Gore suggested politicians should pay would come at election time, such declarations often make political waves. In 2014, when Robert Kennedy Jr. facetiously suggested that  climate change deniers should be jailed, a conservative uproar ensued. 

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