I have two genuine heroes when it comes to inspiration in the environmental arena – John Muir and David Brower. Most of you know who John Muir is and what he meant to California and the protection of public lands. David Brower isn’t nearly as well known and I look forward to writing about the phenomenal impact his life and work made. These giants of the 20th century spent their lives protecting and preserving their world for the benefit of future generations – like us.
Here in the 21st century no single individual has done more to champion environmental issues – or had a bigger impact on our thinking and direction – than Al Gore. His consistency on these issues, his prescient analysis and his decades long determination to make a positive difference by educating us are all true measures of his character and integrity – especially when weighed alongside his unspoken motivation and personal vested interest on the subjects. And by that I mean he doesn’t have any. If you think Al Gore made global warming his issue because he thought he could make money at it or use it to gain more power and celebrity so he could cash in on them, then you and I live in different worlds and I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope for yours
For years Gore was scorned and derided by the mainstream press and Republican establishment. George Bush’s father used to ridicule him with “The Ozone Man” label. Good one, Poppy. Must have been ironic, to say the least, when our current President, Bush Jr., announced that we were a nation “addicted to oil” who needs to turn to energy “technology” to break our addiction and keep us from being dependent on foreign oil sources. He said that back in February of 2006 when gas was an outrageous $2 a gallon. Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?
Today there are still apparently dead enders out there who refuse to wear sunscreen, who eat nothing but fast food, and who remain passionate about their right to use as much gasoline, oil and coal as their finances allow them to buy. They proudly position their stance as “The American Way.”
How George Costanza-esque those folks seem to me. And by that I mean they operate on the Bizarro Superman principles of “bad is good and up is down.” For a while there, it seemed like the Bizarros were in charge for the duration.
But Al Gore’s Nobel Prize for his work educating the world about An Inconvenient Truthwas more than well deserved vindication for the man who has been right all along. It should also prove to be the tipping point many of us have been waiting for. It’s already been responsible for helping to change public opinion on a wholesale level and discrediting most of the Bizarros. Now I predict it will be the momentum driver the green movement has been waiting for.
A lot of people think that can only happen if Al swoops down into the race for President and becomes the Savior of the Democrats. But wiser analysts correctly point out that getting back into American politics would be step back for Gore and do little to advance his goals. I agree.
Al Gore’s mission is a lot bigger than the petty partisan issues that make up the American Presidential campaign and election. Talk about a guy who’s been there and done that and had nothing to show for it but the bill. He knows better now and that’s plain to see.
But I also want to talk about a guy who took the most stinging and bitter loss in modern political history and used it to free himself to do the work that meant the most to him and do it the way his heart tells him to.
Al Gore has reinvented himself – like so many of us dream of doing – and he is now able to do and say the things he cares about without having to worry about what potential donors or supporters it might offend. Al Gore campaigns on an issue more significant than those that make up the American race for the Presidency
I admire Al Gore not just for the work he’s been doing for the last 20 years. He’s become one of my heros because he took a completely creative approach to making the issue of global warming a part of American consciousness.
To take a Mac Keynote presentation (Not a PowerPoint as its usually referred to. Al Gore is too hip to use a Microsoft program when he’s trying to communicate) and basically present it to the nation and the world by making a feature film out it is brilliant and completely unprecedented.
So too was tying the emotion of Hurricane Katrina and its vivid destruction to the even greater risks that global warming brings. And Al Gore is my hero because he didn’t use the Katrina story to exploit victims. (In fact he personally led a rescue effort in New Orleans that he’s never publicly spoken about.) The ability to creatively seize that moment when it presents itself, make it your own and use it to help people is a unique skill that only a handful of smart, talented people possess.
Al Gore is one of those handful of people and I’d hate to see him waste that intellect and those talents on a job like being President of the United States in these times. The great work of our day is never done in the White House, the Presidency has become about raising cash in exchange for favors, and the brand of leadership we need isn’t the kind where they play “Ruffles and Flourishes” each time you walk through the door.
Al Gore has a different song in his head as he walks into the room and you can bet your carbon credits it doesn’t sound like a fanfare. It’s more like a great gospel song that sounds best when sung by a mass choir. I’m ready to sing along. Why don’t you add your voice too?