In a speech before the New York League of Conservation Voters on Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore criticized Obama's lack of concerted action to address climate change, saying that while he deeply respects "our president and the steps he has taken," it's time to move beyond lip service.
"We cannot have four more years of mentioning this occasionally and saying it's too bad that the Congress can't act," said Gore, according to Reuters, arguing that the White House must act more aggressively to dispel the inertia that has gripped Capitol Hill's response to climate change.
"Our democracy has been hacked," Gore said. "And when the large part of polluters and their ideological allies tell the members of Congress to jump, they do say, 'how high?' And we need leadership in the executive branch as well."
Gore previously criticized Obama's tepid response to the threat posed by climate change, writing in a Rolling Stone essay published in June, "President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community...to bring the reality of the science before the public."
Gore introduced New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose city absorbed a crushing blow from superstorm Sandy in October, sustaining 43 casualties and billions of dollars of property damage and losing power for days. Much of lower Manhattan and parts of other boroughs were flooded by the storm surge, a danger that will only grow more pronounced as sea levels continue rising due to the increasing global temperature.
Bloomberg praised the federal government's response to the disaster left in Sandy's wake, noting, "We had help from every part of the federal government. Everything we asked for we had. Now we've got to get some money out of them, but that's another issue."
The mayor said that New York and other cities must take preemptive action to protect themselves from future crises, arguing that they cannot wait for "national governments to act on climate change."