Al Gore’s Wake-Up Call

[Posted 8:47 AM by Roger Kimball]

Regular readers of Armavirumque know that I have had my differences with Al Gore. But I am truly grateful for his new book and movie tie-in, "An Inconvenient Truth." I finally understand the ecological catastrophe we all of us face--a catastrophe, Mr. Gore explains, brought on first of all by heedless development and greed in first-world capitalist countries, but abetted by all of us who drive a car, crank up the air-conditioning in the summer, or who thoughtlessly run an extra load of clothes through the washing machine. How passionately the former vice-President and inventor of the Internet has conjured up the impending "planetary emergency" we all face because of global warming and the runaway build up of carbon dioxide gas. His performance at Cannes, where the movie opened, was said to be . . . spellbinding. And his performances back in America--he’ll be in Houston this week--are sure to make one think.

The excellent weblog IowaHawk summarized some of the thoughts I had while contemplating Mr. Gore’s rousing call to eco-arms. Here at last is someone who understands the huge stakes involved in the ecological emergency Mr. Gore has been warning about since at least the late 1980s. And I must also laud David Burge of IowaHawk for his gritty pragmatism. He is no armchair crusader, full of empty imprecations. On the contrary, having digested Mr. Gore’s message, he takes it to its logical conclusion and offers readers "Ten Things You Can Do To Save The Planet." I think you’ll agree that Mr. Burge has captured the real meaning of Al Gore’s latest effort to galvanize public opinion:

Nearly ten years after the Kyoto accords, our planet continues to careen helplessly toward certain environmental destruction. The skies are choked with pollutants. Polar bears are plunging through the thinning ice caps. Ben Affleck is still having problems finding a decent comeback project.

Thankfully, with the new release of Al Gore’s blockbuster eco-documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," the world is finally heeding the disaster looming on the horizon. But mere consciousness is not enough to cure our current climate ills - it takes action. Here are a few simple things you to put the planet on the road to recovery.

1. Turn off faucets when not in use. While a single dripping faucet may not seem to be much of an environmental hazzard, the numbers really begin to add up when you’re hosting a Sierra Club fundraising party for Laurie David and all 10 of your bathrooms are in use. Have your domestic staff check to make sure that electonic sink sensors are working properly, and use other water conservation methods such as installing low-flow bidets. Remember to remind your guests: "If it’s yellow, let it mellow."

2. Upgrade to a new Gulfstream G550. Next time you take off for Cannes or Sundance or that big Environmental Defense Fund gala, stop and think how much fuel that clunky old G450 is using. Not only does the new G550 have 10.8% better fuel efficiency, it’s quieter, has real burled walnut, and with a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.885 you’ll never be late for the Palm d’Or ceremony!

3. Crush a Third World economic development movement. One of the most pressing threats facing our environment is rising incomes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Only a generation ago, these proud dark people were happily frolicking in the rain forest, foraging for organic foods amid the wonders of nature. Now, corrupted by wealth, they are demanding environmentally hazardous consumer goods like cars and air conditioning and malaria medicine. You can do your part to stop this dangerous consumer trend by supporting environmentally aware leaders like Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro to foster an economy of sustainable low-impact ecolabor camps.

4. Don’t Have Babies. Many people are shocked when they learn that fewer than 25% of the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild have been spayed or neutered. Sure, babies make great fashion accessories and it’s fun to give them awesome names, like Kumquat Wildebeest Paltrow and Toploader Enchilada Cage. But these miniature humans will eventually grow and begin ravenously consuming the Earth’s depleted reserves of aux pairs and psychotherapists.

5. Alternative fuel motorcades. Let’s face it: whether you are on an international press junket or going to an awards banquet, motorcades are a way of life. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make your red carpet entrance in an eco-friendly way. When possible, tell your publicity team to request a electric, hybrid, or E-85 stretch limo for you and your entourage. Later, when you are vomiting outside the Viper Club, encourage the paparazzi to share the photos to conserve high energy use camera flash pods.

6. Go on a random killing spree. If science has taught us anything, it is that human beings are the root cause of our current environmental mess, and it’s high time that we address these two-legged eco problems head on. Next time you’re on your way to a location shoot, do a little shooting of your own - have the driver lower the tinted windows and pop a few caps on behalf of Mother Earth. Not only will you be doing the environment a good turn, it will earn you valuable youth market "street cred."

7. "Green begins at home." Whether you live in East Hampton or Topanga Canyon, there are dozens of little things you can do around your compound to minimize harm to the environment. For instance, have your groundskeeping staff lower the water levels in your koi ponds, and turn off your energy-wasting security cameras between 1 AM and 7 AM. If you own a summer ranch in Montana, send an email to the trail boss and tell him/her to add Beano to your cattle herd’s feed to reduce ozone-depleting methane emissions.

8. Phase out the entertainment industry by 2011. If there is one sector of our economy that typifies America’s obscene energy waste, it is the entertainment industry. Every year untold gigawatts are consumed to power studio kleig lights, theater projectors, popcorn machines, and multi-city concert tours, with no discernable benefit to society. With your help, this destructive drag on our environment can be reversed within five years. Do your part by pledging to greenlight only those films that have recycled or incomprehensible story lines, and by signing preachy and unlistenable musical acts. By purging the entertainment market of its dangerous popular appeal, you will be reducing the public’s desire to make wasteful and expensive SUVs trips to their local concert halls, cineplexes and video stores.

9. Commit suicide. As an eco-aware, planetary resource parasite, you will eventually want to kill yourself to spare the environment any further damage that your personal existence has already caused. However, it is important that you plan your suicide carefully as not to disturb the ecosystem’s delicate balance. Self immolation, while poignant, can release up to 50 kg of airborne fluorocarbons. Why not try the the hot new Malibu trend, ritual Japanese sepukku? it’s exotic, elegant, and your intact corpse will make a great compost pile addition.

10. Support eco-friendly organizations and political candidates. Finally, you can make a major impact for environmental good through community legislative action. Like it or not, getting Washington to take action on environmental issues requires intensive lobbying and the election of eco-thinking representatives, and this takes money. There are literally hundreds of worthy environmentalist organizations and candidates out there, and the choices can be confusing. Fortunately, I have taken the work out of this for you. Before you do #9, make a legacy of your commitment to eco-action: send me a bundled contribution via PayPal to my email address, and I will see to it that it gets to the right place. Together, we can make a difference!

Thanks, IowaHawk. And thanks, Al. Without you, I never would have had my consciousness raised.