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Monday, March 10, 2008

Beyond Al Gore and Inconvenient Truths: A New Generation, A New Vision, a New Dream

Al Gore, the erstwhile trumpeter of inconvenient truths and dire warnings of climate catastrophe has fallen under attack by the climate deniers and flat earth-ers of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

CEI is taking Gore, perhaps the most visible figurehead of the climate movement, to task for living in "a posh Nashville mansion" that allegedly uses 20 times the energy of a normal American home while making money as he calls for action to halt the climate crisis.

Adhering to the age old maxim, "If you can't kill the message, kill the messenger," they cry "Hypocrite!" trying to besmirch Al Gore's cause as they besmirch his reputation.

Some of my friends and fellow bloggers have been bustling to rise to Al Gore's defense. I on the other hand, have not.

So what if Al Gore isn't a perfect model of a modern major climate hero? That's only a problem so long as we insist on making him our figurehead. His alleged hypocracy is only a problem if we insist on making climate solutions all about personal sacrifice. Heck, the bulletproof veracity of the dire predictions of climate science is only critical if we insist on making our movement solely about avoiding the nightmarish future Gore describes in "An Inconvenient Truth."

So defend Al Gore if you want, but I'm going to waste little time on it. Al Gore is not the leader of my movement. He's not my inspiration, or my hero. His message is not the message that inspires me to act.

Do we think he's going to be our MLK with a message of inconvenient truths and dire warnings? Is that what will inspire America and the world to act?

The leaders of my movement are the hundreds and hundreds of citizens and activists, many (most) of them young, working day in and day out to make a difference, trusting implicitly that others out there are doing the same. These climate champions aren't former "next presidents of the United States," or millionaire politicians. They are everyday people rising to do great things, motivated not by fear (by a sense of urgency, yes) but rather by a vision of the better world we're striving to create, a sustainable, just, and prosperous future.

Don't get me wrong, Al Gore has done a great service, tirelessly raising the profile of climate science and highlighting the warnings of the nightmare future we stand to inherit if we fail to act to end the climate crisis. But now it is time for a new generation of leaders, and a new vision of a brigther future, a vision where we talk not about "inconvenient truths," but about the very convenient fact that we stand at a moment of unique opportunity, at a catalyzing chance to create a better world.

A crisis is not yet a disaster. Gore himself says something akin to that, although that message is often lost in the rest of his rhetoric. A crisis is a choice, a choice between futures, and we still have time left to choose.

Will we choose the nightmare or the dream? And which will inspire us to action? I say it's time to dream.

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