Enviro Gore’s “We” Campaign: Not Far Enough
posted by April 7 at 11:47 AMon
The blog Smart Growth Around America has a smart post addressing one of the most glaring deficiencies in Al Gore’s $300 million Alliance for Climate Protection (AKA the “we” campaign): It focuses on small-scale, individual “solutions” (changing your light bulbs, inflating your tires, etc.) while ignoring changes that are harder to do but more effective—like driving less and moving to a dense, walkable community.
With one-third of our emissions generated by transportation, where we choose to live has quite possibly the largest ramifications on our own personal emissions. So it’s discouraging that the most well-known climate advocate running the most well-funded climate advocacy campaign doesn’t see encouraging more people to live in places where they have to drive less as an obvious — and simple — solution.
BeyondDC, while like us hopeful for the success of the campaign, also expressed their disappointment in the lack of mentions for smarter growth, walkable neighborhoods, public transit, or related options in an open letter to Al Gore:You spend plenty of time talking about techno wizardry and new sources of energy, but we pored over your solutions page and find nary a mention of anything about changing our gluttonous driving-based lifestyle. You have a whole section titled Cutting fuel costs on the road, but in the entire piece the message “drive less” is nowhere to be found.
Tucked way down deep below whole chapters about minor subjects like light bulbs, properly inflated tires, and residential air filters, there’s a single sentence about public transportation and a passing reference to walking to work, but that’s the extent - a single sentence and a passing reference. Nowhere on the entire We Can Solve It site is there any mention about living in a walkable, urban community. Nothing about the damage caused by sprawl. Searches on your site for “transit“, “walkable“, “downtown” and “suburban” come up completely blank.
Perhaps Gore and the team are hesitant to be perceived as telling people where and how they should live. But they shouldn’t be. As Growing Cooler shows (and the recent NPR story highlights especially), making a big dent in our emissions is as simple as meeting the radically underserved demand for compact, walkable, connected places where driving may be one of only several options.
Having looked at the “we” web site, my own assessment isn’t quite so harsh—the site does mention commuting by bike, and it notes the need for “innovative leadership,” which could be read as support for smarter growth management policies, among other things—but for such an enormous effort, it would have been nice to see some bolder suggestions than “turn down the thermostat.” Riding the bus to work, moving to a denser community, and having fewer kids would be a start.
If you want Gore’s campaign to stand up for transit and smart growth, drop them a note here.