Monday, August 14, 2006
I Hate To Admit It, But Al Gore Is Right About Global Warming
I am not an Al Gore fan. Twenty years ago I thought I might be. When Gore launched his first campaign for the presidency in 1988 he was commonly thought to be a “new Democrat,” with an impressive intellect, a centrist ideology and an acceptable level of political pragmatism.
That description certainly seemed to fit the voting record of Senator Al Gore from Tennessee. But it was another Al Gore who stepped into the national spotlight. This Al Gore went beyond pragmatism to pandering. For example, his centrist pro-life ideology was conveniently ditched when it was clear that he needed to be pro-abortion in order to win the Democratic nomination.
Gore’s miraculous conversion was not enough to secure the nomination in 1988, but over the course of the next twelve years—the last eight under the expert tutelage of Bill and Hillary Clinton—he shamelessly shifted from the center of the political spectrum to the left. His youthful flirtation with centrist ideology was forgiven and forgotten. Gore’s conversion was so complete that he was easily nominated to represent a very left-leaning Democratic party in the 2000 presidential election.
I also found that Gore was not the intellectual he wanted to be known as. Pseudo-intellectual would be more accurate. He plays the role of an intellectual quite well. He employs a serious demeanor, speaks slowly—as if every word is important—and even looks and sounds like a professor. His act fools many people who are easy to fool, but impressing Barbara Striesand and the rest of the Hollywood crowd does not qualify Gore as an intellectual. My impression is that Gore is a good student. He does his homework and memorizes the required material, but tries too hard to impress everyone with his intellect. He is the prototypical teacher’s pet. His intellectual achievements are more the product of effort than of natural brilliance. After all, this is a guy who lost two of the three debates he had with George W. Bush. Al Gore the intellectual giant? I think not.
But in spite of my dislike for Al Gore’s politics and his pseudo-intellectual posturing, I give him tremendous credit for his persistent crusade to raise awareness of global warming. Of course he is overstating the case. This is the same Al Gore who once famously claimed to have invented the internet. But his propensity to exaggerate should not obscure the fact that Gore’s contention that the earth is in a period of gradual warming, caused at least in part by human activity, is essentially right.
I realize that many of you will disagree. Especially because it’s a cause championed by Al Gore, supported by many Democrats you dislike, and opposed by many Republicans you trust. But I would ask that you please put aside partisan ideology and consider the case for global warming.
First, I urge you to study what the scientific community has to say about global warming. You will find some dissent, but I am confident that you will find an overwhelming majority of the scientific community are in agreement that global warming exists and that it is at least partially caused by human activity.
Second, check out Gore’s movie or book. Even if you discount the evidence because of Gore’s propensity to exaggerate, the discounted evidence is still compelling.
Third, use a little common sense. Three hundred years ago America was inhabited by a relative handful of humans living a pre-industrial life style. Today it is inhabited by 300 million of us who consume massive amounts of energy that is produced by processes that release carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the atmosphere. It’s silly to think that it doesn’t have some impact on the atmosphere and therefore earth’s temperature and weather patterns.
So despite my many differences with Al Gore, I applaud him for his persistence and dedication to this cause. It is an inconvenient message delivered by an inconvenient spokesman. But let’s not let inconvenience and partisanship get in the way of admitting we have a problem that needs attention now. If we do our grandchildren will almost certainly have a very inconvenient future.