I’m an earth scientist, and these arguments about Gore (or any environmentalist’s) personal consumption habits frustrate me. Why reporters always turn to the environmentalist and ask what they are doing in their own lives to reduce their footprint is missing the point. This notion that the speaker must live up to some martyr-like quality of life in a hut somewhere is silly and misguided, and turns the conversation into a judgement of the hypocrisy of the speaker, rather than a practical assessment of the steps society (not individuals) must take to correct global warming.
Folks, this is about global biogeochemical cycles. That’s what they’re called, the word Gore almost says a million times in his movie, the word I can’t get our webmaster to put on our institution’s website because it’s unfamiliar to the public (even though probably more than a quarter of the institution works on these cycles). Biogeochemistry, the study of elements moving through the whole planet’s ecosystems and geological components. When you have 6 billion humans jumping up and down and racing around in cars burning fossil fuels, you are in effect moving a lot of carbon around (and many other elements) in ways that the earth has never seen before (more). What one human in Tennessee’s house does is completely missing the point. That one human has been leading a battle for decades to try to create top-down solutions to climate change. Picking apart that individual’s actions is counter productive. We need a top-down complete reassessment of our society’s energy use and efficiency. If Gore (one human) needs to fly around in a plane to convince 6 billion people this is necessary, or 300 million people in our country, that is the best investment of fossil carbon I can possibly imagine.
C’mon Gore, we need you in ’08. Humanity needs you. Stay humble, stay focused on the goal, and people will believe in you.