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Posts Tagged ‘Al Gore’

Dear Al,

You and I just met last weekend. I had traveled far in my Prius for the chance to have a few words with you, my hero. When my turn came, I made sure to let you know how grateful I was, for the presentation you gave three years ago, at Stanford, on “An Inconvenient Truth”. I told you I had come out of the event transformed and determined to help somehow with the global warming crisis. You seemed flattered, and you moved on to the person next in line, a funny guy named Dana Carvey.

You were supposed to give a political speech, but you could not stay away from your favorite topic. And you spoke at length about the need to bring about a change in consciousness, regarding the moral challenge of our time, our role in the destruction of the future of our planet. I loved listening to you, and so did the rest of the audience. You delivered your message with feeling and conviction, and we readily joined you in your outrage, down to your last word. “Damit!”

That’s all good. And that’s not enough. You see, what I took away from this time with you, was not the thrill of meeting you, nor the heartfelt speech you gave, nor the majestic scenery surrounding us. No, instead I will remember the sight of all the cars parked along the road, and filling every free parking space on the compound. Call me a party spoiler, but it bothered me that you seemed oblivious to the lack of carpooling for the event. When I brought up the subject with my neighbors at the lunch table, all expressed interest. I know this is a small detail, and you are dealing with the big picture.

I just want to raise this question with you. What if the big picture was all in the details? How different would have your message been, if you had sent a request ahead of time to all the guests, asking them to carpool? You could have carpooled yourself, rather than just driving with your daughter in her Prius.

Al, I hope you will consider. As the world leader on climate,  you bear a huge responsibility. Please do not misuse it, and realize the power of your actions, not just your words.

Respectfully,

Marguerite Manteau-Rao

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Maybe I will change my mind about the “we” campaign?

Their latest “Oil and Coal” ad is getting at the main issue, at last:

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Al Gore did a fabulous job yesterday, of nailing down the three key environmental challenges facing our country.

First, is the interdependence between climate crisis, economy, and national security.

And it just so happens that the climate crisis is intertwined with the other two great challenges facing our nation: reviving our economy and strengthening our national security. The solutions to all three require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.

Second, is the need to use a multi solutions approach, not forgetting to include conservation in the mix -I would love to think that Al read my earlier criticism . . . :)

Instead of letting lobbyists and polluters control our destiny, we need to invest in American innovation. Almost a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” We already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis—everything, that is, except a president who inspires us to believe, “Yes we can.”

Third, is exposing the hold of the big oil and coal interests on the Republican party, and on the media, and the risk we run if we elect another Republican president.

So how did this no-brainer become a brain-twister? Because the carbon fuels industry—big oil and coal—have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it’s worth. And this same industry has spent a half a billion dollars this year alone trying to convince the public they are actually solving the problem, when they are in fact making it worse every single day.

Well said, Al!

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T. Boone Pickens has generated a lot of press lately, with his plan:

After watching Grist, TreeHugger, World Changing, Huffington Post, Climate Progress, and New York Times, all weigh in, it seems that the old man’s got some things right, and others not:

RIGHT ON: going crazy with wind power.

WRONG: natural gas vehicles

As with Al Gore, my main issue with Pickens‘ plan is the flagrant omission of conservation as a necessary part of the answer. It is one thing to propose some solutions. It is another to suggest an all encompassing plan, when in fact it fails to include a measure as critical as conservation efforts. 

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I have ceased to be so hung up on people changing their behaviors. No, rather, I am aiming for much lower. Attitudes will do. Because I believe most of us cannot go at it alone, and need instead the support and infrastructures from high up. What people can, and should do however, is recognize right initiatives when they are presented to them, and endorse them.

Then comes the challenge of how to change popular attitudes in the face of flagrant manipulations from special fossil fuel interests, as in behind the scenes lobbying, and massive progaganda. In climate matters, Chevron, and Exxon hold the cards, not politicians. The best way to stop this, is through the deliberate exposure of Big Oil‘s dirty tricks in the media, and through counter-lobbying. Climate naives are too easy of a prey.

Another group worth paying attention to, are the powers in charge of our country. That select group of Senators, Congress people, government executives, and Supreme judges need to be educated about their new responsibilities in the face of climate change and other global world resources crisis. Intelligence and power are not immune to misinformation and unconsciousness. Counter-lobbying agents and climate ethicists have their work cut out.

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Last night, during his interview with the Associated Press, Al Gore challenged the nation to produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun and other Earth-friendly sources within 10 years, an audacious goal he hopes the next president will embrace. And made it clear that the people have to play a part, through their support of politicians for such energy policy. Barack Obama, and to a lesser extent John McCain may be “way ahead” – Al Gore’s words – but they will not go very far without the popular vote, our vote. Now, consider this:

According to a recent Rasmussen survey:

  • 67% of voters believe that drilling should be allowed off the coasts of California, Florida and other states.
  • 64% of voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that gas prices will go down if offshore oil drilling is allowed
Similarly, June 2008 Pew Opinion Survey concluded:
Amid record gas prices, public support for greater energy exploration is spiking. Compared with just a few months ago, many more Americans are giving higher priority to more energy exploration, rather than more conservation. An increasing proportion also says that developing new sources of energy – rather than protecting the environment – is the more important national priority.
Al, it’s not going to be easy convincing your fellow American citizens . . . Also, what happened to conservation? How come the ‘C-word’ does not appear even once in your interview? Did I miss something?

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Remember John Kerry during his 2004 presidential campaign? Mr. Kerry may have been accurate in his portrayal of issues, but his message got lost into too many nuances. I am afraid the same is happening with climate change. Each day, new information gets thrown at us, that elaborates on, denies, or tempers previously released scientific facts. The picture that emerges, although more complete, becomes increasingly difficult for the average person to grasp. In one ear, out the other.

Staying with the presidential campaigning analogy, we all know from history, that the winning candidate is not necessarily the most qualified for the job, but instead the one most able to win the crowds with a clear, persuasive, and relevant message. The problem with the climate message is the absence of a dominant voice. Even Al Gore‘s once far reaching speech is getting drowned in a cacaphony of conversations from various experts and random people with opinions to share. The best way I know to counter that deplorable situation is to turn to the masters of mass communication. Good advertising professionals know the virtues of repeating over and over simple messages that stick and persuade.

Am I the only one to be confused?

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Over duck confit and sea trout, Prad and I engaged into a passionate conversation with Hong, the woman sitting next to us, at ‘Le Pied de Fouet’, one of my favorite little restaurants in the Latin Quarter. We quickly learned that Hong is involved in big carbon trading and energy deals all over the world.  Hong’s friend was listening quietly, then brought up her niece, a chemist. ‘My niece says global warming is a natural thing, and there is nothing we can do about it.‘ The chemist had been convincing enough, that Hong’s friend did not feel any urgency and took a passive stance towards climate change. ‘Have you heard of “An Inconvenient Truth”‘, Hong asked. No, her friend hadn’t, but she was willing to check it out. 

Climate deniers and their naive followers know no frontiers. The deniers are a hard bunch to reason with. Their followers, on the other hand only need to be shown the real truth, to understand.

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I will be following with great interest the progress of the recently launchedTogether” citizen engagement campaign on climate change.

A UK import from The Climate Group, “Together” comes on the heels of Al Gores disappointing “we” campaign. I like that it is a true collaborative effort between environmental organizations, major American cities, media organizations, and big businesses. Whether the citizens will respond is another story.

Also, I couldn’t help but think, what would happen if the “we” people, and the “Together” team worked towards a single, unified campaign? Environmental organizations have this deplorable tendency of fragmenting their efforts.

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Pangea Day was a remarkable event in many ways. A live demonstration that it is possible to use Internet technology to bring together, in a participatory manner, millions of people from all over the world, using the power of film, and creativity. 

In the spirit of the event, I would like to share with you, my top three picks.

#1. Papiroflexia. An animation feat. If movies could be poems, they would look like this:

#2. The Ball. I will never be able to throw away any one thing after seeing the video. 

#3. Pale Blue Dot. Makes you think about the big questions . . . I had flashbacks from Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.

Thoughts, feelings?

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