American democracy has been “hacked” by the same forces that spread disinformation about climate change, according to Al Gore.
The former vice president explained how the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil have funded efforts to sow doubt about climate science, and their success in those efforts have been adapted for other political purposes, reported The Guardian.
“Those with access to large amounts of money and raw power have been able to subvert all reason and fact in collective decision making,” Gore told the newspaper. “The Koch brothers are the largest funders of climate change denial, and ExxonMobil claims it has stopped, but it really hasn’t. It has given a quarter of a billion dollars in donations to climate denial groups. It’s clear they are trying to cripple our ability to respond to this existential threat.”
President Donald Trump sowed doubt about climate change long before he began attacking “fake news,” but Gore was still surprised the president pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.
“I was wrong,” he told The Guardian. “Based on what he told me, I definitely thought there was a better than even chance he might choose to stay in. But I was wrong. I was fearful that other countries for whom it was a close call would follow his lead, but I’m thrilled the reaction has been exactly the opposite. The other 19 members of the G20 have reiterated that Paris is irreversible. And governors and mayors all over the country have been saying we are all still in and, in fact, it’s just going to make us redouble our commitments.”
He believes the president’s chief strategist changed Trump’s mind.
“I think Steve Bannon and his crowd put a big push on Trump and convinced him that he needed to give this to his base supporters,” Gore said. “He had blood in his eyes.”
Gore said U.S. oil companies are mostly to blame for climate disinformation, but he said Russia has helped to amplify those messages to benefit oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin — whom he first met in the early 1990s.
“I would not have thought of him as the future president of Russia. I once did a televised town hall event to the whole of Russia and Putin was the one who was in charge of making sure all the cables were connected and whatnot.”