Yesterday morning, at the practically unforgiveable hour of 8:30AM, I went to a screening of An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about global warming. Al Gore, who is featured prominently in the film, was on hand for a Q&A after. Sadly, I have no pics of the Q&A, because as I stood to take some I was accosted by a Sundance volunteer who hissed "No pictures!" at me. I looked around in confusion at the hundreds of flash bulbs going off around me. "Um....but this is a Q&A". "They told me NO pictures," she insisted. I pointed out that everyone else was taking them, but the logic of this failed to penetrate. "No pictures!" Okay, so no pics.
The Q&A itself was fantastic. Here's the thing about Al Gore: when he speaks, he's either he's so hot he's sizzling, or so boring he's a one-man sleep aid. Fortunately for me (because I definitely would have fallen asleep if he had shown up in his Boring Al persona) he was on fire yesterday morning, and by the time he was done the crowd was ready to go march on Washington. Here's a brief summary. Gore started out by saying, "Young people led the way in the Civil Rights Movement and are beginning to lead the way on this issue (global warming)...when I say this is a moral issue as well as a political one, it is to unite Republicans as well as Democrats, conservatives as well as liberals, to join together on this cause."
Gore went on to talk about how he had taken a course in college back in the sixties from the first scientist who measured carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and how he developed an interest in the subject and has been researching it ever since. Gore said that when he went to Congress he started talking to politicians about global warming and brought environmental scientists in for hearings, and how he fervently believed that once the politicians heard the truth about global warming, they would be inspired to do something about it. They weren't.
He also talked about Jim Hanson, one of the scientists he has worked with in researching global warming, who says we only have about 10 years before we reach the "tipping point" - that point at which we no longer have as much ability and opportunity to stop the damage and change things, and reverse global warming. "Assuming that's the dead-on truth," Gore said, "then what does that mean to you? What are the implications? What impact does that have on what you do as a citizen of this earth?"
The most poignant moment of the Q&A came in the form of a question from a young boy: "Mr. Gore, after you're done saving the earth, will you run for president again? Gore got momentarily choked up by the question, then composed himself and answered, "Son, I like to think of myself as a recovering politician. (cue laughter from the crowd) This is my mission now." Then he got all fired up like a Baptist preacher, pounding his fist for emphasis. "It's you and the kids of your generation who have to carry this," he told the boy. "Make the grownups look you in the eye and tell you they don't care that they're destroying your planet."
Gore wrapped up the Q&A with an appeal. "This is a planetary emergency," he said emphatically. "And as hard as it is to believe it, we should see it as a privilege to be a part of this generation, to take on this challenge. People, when they are exposed to the truth of this, immediately say, 'ok', and want to make a change."