I had planned on doing a Tuesday post on global warming and climate change for the past few Tuesdays but something always came up. But it was meant to be that I would post today as I was able to utilize all the environmentally conscious blogs that posted for Blog Action Day. And given Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize for his role as an Ambassador for our Environment, timing couldn't have been better. Who would have thought the former Vice President, who technically should habe been the 43rd President of the USA, who went away to quietly lick his wounds and came back as a major spokesman for global warming, would win a Nobel Peace Prize?
Yesterday, the NYT Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman asks "What is it about Al Gore that drives right-wingers insane?" And he answers that it's because Mr. Gore keeps being proven right. "Today, being a good Republican means believing that taxes should always be cut, never raised. It also means believing that we should bomb and bully foreigners, not negotiate with them. So if science says that we have a big problem that can’t be solved with tax cuts or bombs — well, the science must be rejected, and the scientists must be slimed." And in an age where smear tactics are the proven choice for conservatives fighting for their guns and their large SUVs and their big tax breaks to keep their large McMansion estates - it drives them wild that none of their tactics have worked on Mr. Gore. Instead "he's taken everything they could throw at him, and emerged more respected, and more credible, than ever. And it drives them crazy."
As much as I respect Al Gore, we must remember despite the media hype, he was not the only winner. He split the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a respected organization known for its measured approach to the problem, focusing on the more noncontroversial findings. Their approach is very different from the doom and gloom approach Mr. Gore has taken. There has been concerns that Mr. Gore's emphasis on the more sensationalistic aspects of global warming is misrepresenting the science. For example, the NYT article titled
"2 Winners, and 2 Approaches to Spreading the Word on Climate" stated that in Mr. Gore's documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” "a fast-motion flood spills into ground zero, implying seas could rise many feet in the near term from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. In the [IPCC] panel’s latest study, losing the Greenland sheet was projected to take 1,000 years or more." One IPCC member, Gary Yohe stated “If the spectacular nature of his presentations and the personalities involved become the story instead of the science, then it becomes counterproductive.” Some are concerned that Mr Gore is an alarmist in his approach, especially when the science is still uncertain. Those authorities who tend to marginalize the issue of climate change look at Mr. Gore's tactics as trying to frighten the public with dire climate scenarios like more intense hurricanes. And given that the science is uncertain, it allows Mr. Gore's detractors to counterargue his position as simple alarmism and reassure the scared public that there is no solid proof of this phenomenon.
I believe both approaches are important to bringing world attention to the concerns of our environment. What other way is there to attract the attention of the masses? For the science itself is too complex for average citizens and elected officials (even our President!) to comprehend. And even the experts agree that if the profile of the issue had not been raised with “An Inconvenient Truth,” the ICPP's reports this year would not have had nearly as much impact.
Since Mr. Gore plans to donate a portion of the $1.5 million prize money to the nonprofit organization he founded last year, the Alliance for Climate Protection, I hope he will also take a more conservative approach in the dissemination of the message to the public now that he has catpured everyone's attention. In no way do I think he should change his approach too drastically, as I do believe we must keep the pressure up, but I would want him to stay as close to the proven science as possible, if only to counter the inevitable backlash from the right wing conservatives.
Mr. Gore's approach has helped raise the issues of climate change to the public and now that public attention has been captured, it is now up to the world's governments and the scientific community to come up with answers and solutions to save our world. And it is up to us, the citizen's of the world, to hold our government's accountable to find these solutions.