What amazes me is how many people are so badly misinformed about environmental issues.
On chlorofluorocarbons: We haven't stopped using them. Mexico and China were not party to the Montreal agreement and continue to use these materials to this day.
On acid rain: Much of the world has not taken measures to stop sulphur emissions, and China has such bad air pollution that future Olympics athletes are being forced to train for the problems they will encounter. The fact that China does not have to comply with the standards of the US is one of the reasons the US balance of trade has record deficits, and the US national debt is reaching record levels of indebtedness to China. You really think there was no economic impact of environmental standards that are not worldwide?
Yes, alternative fuel is worth pursuing, and conservation is never a stupid idea. However, if all the corn and soybeans in the USA were converted to fuel, we would run out of gasoline in March. Growing more corn and soybeans is likely to create more global warming problems than oil and gas, since much of the rain forest is now being destroyed in the name of alternative fuels. Few people realize that 25% of last years carbon dioxide input into the atmosphere from human sources was caused by clearing land for alternative fuel production. In the long run these alternatives have significant environmental risk that very few people are willing to see because they are intent on looking through rose-colored glasses tinted by political rhetoric of a few blowhards who intend to get rich at the expense of their minions.
Few people who argue that these alternatives are so wonderful ever stop to do the calculations to realize that the magnitude of energy usage in the world far exceeds (by orders of magnitude) the potential of their favorite energy alternative. Oil, gas, and coal, are predicted to be our major supply of energy for decades to come, well into this century by anyone who is informed. The real problems are not even related to global warming or carbon dioxide emissions as Al Gore is trying to argue, but are instead related to peak oil. Peak oil will make carbon dioxide emissions a moot point and represents a much bigger challenge to our economy and lifestyle than carbon dioxide emissions.
Energy sources and energy usage have to change, as fossil fuels will run out, and in the near term (decades) will become so expensive that most alternatives will become economical through normal market forces. No carbon tax, or other regulatory forces are needed. The shortage of oil, and the cost of using oil products (which are much more numerous than most people realize- e.g. fertilizer used to grow corn is now imported from Saudi Arabia, detergent, shampoo, all plastics, etc) will make them more expensive and require society to eliminate wasteful consumption of oil products. It will happen because people will see the immediate economic benefit of things like drinking water from the tap instead of using bottled water packaged in oil resources. These sorts of small changes will be forced by the market, not by regulation or hypocritical environmental ethics.
If we all had Al Gore's money (much of it earned from oil investment) we could all afford to save energy. I don't and I can't, but eventually the free market will force it to happen.