Gore scores!

al_gore.jpgWith the constant tide of depressing, alarming, and just plain bizarre news always lapping at our shoes, it’s a comfort to know that there is indeed still some justice and sanity remaining in the world. 

Al Gore, dogged and indefatigable warrior for climate righteousness, Former-Next-President-of-the-United-States, and Natural Patriot extraordinaire, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

As most readers will know by now, the FNPUS shared this honor with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the unprecedented global coalition of scientists that devoted years of their lives to collecting, analyzing, and exhaustively vetting the complex and obscure scientific data on climate change necessary to hammer out a series of scientific consensus statements on the state of what we do and don’t know about global climate and how it’s changing.

nobel_medal.jpgDave Roberts at Grist has captured, with characteristic wit and dead-on accuracy, the depressing inability of the mainstream American media to grasp the real significance of this historic event, which has to do not with the obsessive issue of whether he cares to run for President or not, and what the Prize might mean for his chances or not.  No, the significance of Gore’s receipt of the Nobel is the recognition of something utterly unique in the recent history of American politics — one man’s long-term, single-minded, crusade (if I may use that charged word) to bring a huge, complex, profound, long-term (and hence politically suicidal) problem to the front burner of an American public drugged into indulgent complacency by years of politicians who get elected by promising that all problems can be solved with bigger guns and lower taxes. 

In the rest of the world, the award was cause for celebration (from the Washington Post):

“John Ashton, Britain’s special representative for climate change, said the award signals that the international community has ‘crossed a threshold’ when it comes to global warming. ‘The international community now understands this is not only an environmental challenge like other environmental challenges, it is a fundamental challenge to international peace and security,’ he said in an interview. Reaction in Europe, where the Bush administration has been seen as resistant to addressing the warming issue, was strongly positive among politicians across the ideological spectrum. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Gore “inspirational.” [Conservative] French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was happy that “a great American used his position to set an example.” European Commission President Jos¿ Manuel Barroso said he hoped Gore’s honor would encourage world leaders to ‘approach this challenge even more swiftly and decisively.'”

Meanwhile, back home in the US of A, our current president’s staff could manage only this: “Obviously it’s an important recognition, and we’re sure the vice president is thrilled.” Presumably he meant Gore, rather than Dick Cheney, who it is impossible to imagine being thrilled at this news.  Conservatives are predictably fuming.  What does this have to do with peace? Well, here is what the Nobel committee said:

“By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.”

Evidently, American military brass has similar fears about implications of climate change for national security.  Given how close Al came to being the leader of the Free World (and let’s not rehash that now . . .), one might be forgiven for speculating wistfully at how different the landscape of environmental politics and policy might look today had the American people’s undisputed choice for President been allowed to assume that office in 2000.

But perhaps it’s all for the better.  As Roberts emphasizes and Gore himself has alluded in previous speeches, he can probably accomplish more in his present role as self-appointed world ambassador for sane environmental policy than he could within the confines of the American Presidency, with its perverse habit of forcing the best and brightest statesmen we can produce to fritter away their precious energy arguing about whether this or that brain-dead person should have her feeding tube pulled after a video diagnosis on the Senate floor, whether he believes in fairy tales, whether consenting adults should be prevented from living together in peace because of someone else’s fairy tales, etc.  Who needs that?  Not Al Gore, evidently. He has more important fish to fry.

So I say: “Hail to the Chief!”

About Emmett Duffy

I am a Natural Patriot and an ecologist with expertise in biodiversity and its importance to human society. My day job is Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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6 Responses to Gore scores!

  1. Mr. R says:

    Oh, and I do not appreciate your cavalier reference to religion and Christianity as “fairy tales.” It’s not done directly, but even dumb-old-Bible-believin’ me knows what you’re talking about when you say “whether he believes in fairy tales, whether consenting adults should be prevented from living together in peace because of someone else’s fairy tales.”

    No, I don’t study water bugs and slime for a living, which apparently gives you the right to call people’s deeply held beliefs “fairy tales”, but perhaps you could adopt a modicum of modesty and not insult the religious, dumb and simple-minded as we are.

  2. Emmett Duffy says:

    Looks like I hit a nerve. I’m happy to know that I have attracted readers with a wide range of opinions. It keeps things interesting. Regarding the details: there are plenty of political blogs out there where you can rehash the talking points from the last election — I’m not really interested in making this yet another one of them. More importantly, there are plenty of websites where you can find refutation of some of this silly stuff about Gore.  For example, skeptics crowing about the British judge’s consideration of “An Inconvenient Truth” have conspicuously ignored the Judge’s acknowledgement that the main thrust of Gore’s argument and the movie are basically true.  Two or three minutes on Google should set the record straight.

    In actuality I didn’t say anything about religion or Christianity, which I have no complaint against. I’m a churchgoer myself.  It’s counterproductive superstition, and bigotry masquerading as religion, that I have a problem with.  Many people draw deep inspiration from religious texts, but treating 3000-year old stories as literal accounts of how the physical universe came into being, when they fly in the face of everything we know about the physical universe, is superstition plain and simple.  That deliberate flight from physical evidence (which apparently is shared by at least a few of the 2008 Republican Presidential candidates) has bled into public decision making generally and is exactly the sort of problem that has paralyzed the United States in dealing seriously with climate change, among other important issues 

    I must admit that I’ve never really understood the argument that people’s beliefs should be respected because they are deeply held. Lots of people do fantastically evil things because of their deeply held beliefs — Osama bin Laden comes to mind.  I respect views, even if they differ from mine, if those who hold them can offer a compelling reasoned argument for them and they are aimed at improving the world.  

    Peace on earth, good will to all.

  3. emmett, i didn’t know you study waterbugs and slime!

    i’m green with jealousy!

    by the way, don’t hate me but:
    You’re it!

  4. Mr. R says:

    I’m going to restrain myself to one short response-to-your-response. Al Gore’s being a fatty has plenty to do with everything; it reveals his tendency to indulge himself and proves he’s a wasteful consumer (unless you consider converting steak into subcutaneous fat a wise use of caloric capital). And your promise of de-bunking sites can’t do anything about his ties to oil, hypocrisy, and the total inefficacy of carbon credits he uses to pardon his ecological transgressions; these are facts that cannot be spun away.

    I find your point about deeply-held beliefs to be valid. Congratulations. Your stuff about not targeting religion is total B.S., however; your implications were apparent, and you can’t just dismiss aspects of religion you find distasteful as “ideology masquerading as religion”. Anyhow, I’ll pray for Jesus to help you find divine purpose since you already seem to have an earthly one, what with the slime and bugs.

  5. Sarah says:

    I’m so tired of people bringing up Al Gore’s weight. It’s like me making a decent and intelligent point and someone responding, “Oh yeah? Well…you’re ugly.” It’s a sensational (and, sadly, often successful) way of getting the argument completely off topic. And I mean off topic. I don’t believe Al Gore’s weight has “plenty to do with everything.” Unfortunate as it might be for their health, how many people do we all know who gain weight as they get older? And how many people do we also know who sometimes lose their battle with fighting off weight gain that is linked to genetic factors? None of which necessarily reveals a tendency to indulge oneself or proves that one is a wasteful consumer.

  6. Emmett Duffy says:

    Yes, the technical term is an “ad hominem” attack.