Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What Might Have Been

Last night I saw Al Gore give a brilliant lecture on global climate change. He was funny, lively, and engaging, the exact opposite of the stiff, boring drone that the "liberal media" has portrayed him as for last 15 years or so. Of course, he didn't help that perception by running one of the most uninspired presidential campaigns in history. But I tell ya, if the guy who delivered the lecture last night had run for president in 2000, the world would be a very different place today. Some of the highlights:

  • There was a brief technical difficulty with his laptop at the start of the show. A tech ran out to help him, and after a few seconds Gore muttered "You're doing a helluva job, Brownie." Thunderous applause. He then profusely apologized to the tech, saying that he hadn't meant to imply that HE was Brownie.
  • After giving the academic version of global warming and climate change, he said "Or you might prefer this explanation." Cut to a clip from Futurama (the show his daughter used to write for) featuring animated greenhouse gas thugs beating the crap out of a series of friendly Mr. Sunbeams and piling their corpses in Earth's atmosphere.
  • Gore showed a dramatic series of pictures of glaciers taken 30 years ago juxtaposed with pictures taken today. Um, yeah. The glaciers are now either small lakes or gone altogether.
  • Gore showed a nice series of slides about the Bush administration's attempts to portray global warming as a controversial matter, when in fact there is an overwhelming consensus among the scientific community. He especially had fun with Phillip Cooney, an oil company lobbyist who Bush installed at the EPA. Cooney resigned after it came out that he had deleted a bunch of information about global warming from an EPA report. Cooney got a job at (I think) Exxon soon after resigning. He also took a few shots at John "Uncle Pecos" Bolton, who deleted vast swaths of data about global warming from a UN report. Wankers.
  • Another funny moment came when he showed a picture from a conference that the George H.W. Bush administration held on the environment. It was a drawing meant to suggest that we must find a balance between economics and environmental policy. It showed a scale, with a bunch of gold bars on one side and the entire world on the other. The gold was heavier. Said Gore, "Hmmmm. Some gold bars. And the ENTIRE WORLD. Call me crazy, but I think the loss of the entire world might somewhat diminish your enjoyment of the gold bars."
  • Finally, and I think most importantly, he talked about how even people who acknowledge the fact of global warming and climate change (i.e. intelligent people) tend to think that the problem is too big and we can't do anything about it. He then drew a comparison between the issue of CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer. At the time, everyone said "CFCs are used all over the world, there's no way we can possibly reduce their use and make a difference." Bullshit. A summit was held on the issue, policy was changed, and CFCs have been virtually eliminated, and the ozone problem has been reversed. All it takes is a commitment to change and a willingness to enact policy, like, oh, I dunno, the Kyoto Protocol, to get us back on the right track.

Maybe someday, a Democrat will run a campaign where he or she fights to win, by loudly and forcefully outlining their policy and telling everyone exactly what's at stake, rather than running a watered-down, mealy-mouthed, just-try-not-to-upset-anyone-and-meanwhile-inspire-no one campaign. When that day comes, that Democrat will win, and win big. Until then, I guess we’re stuck with the guys who scream about terrorism and divert our attention from every other important issue.

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