Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Al Gore (Re)Invents Global Climate Change


Go deep! Al Gore is quarterbacking the charge on global climate change
Way back in 1992 global climate change (then known as global warming) seemed finally to have become a truly hot issue. A series of record-warm years in the late 1980's, the arrival of a surprisingly pro-environmental Bush I in the White House, and a rising chorus of scientific evidence culminated in the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), one of the Rio Trio of global environmental treaties. That same year I attended what may have been Al Gore's Ur-Inconvenient Truth lecture at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, where he had been meeting regularly with E.O. Wilson. Both the speech and the speaker were compelling.

Al Gore continued to advocate for a strong legal response to global climate change during his subsequent vice-presidency, and was responsible in no small part for the successful negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol to the FCCC in 1997. However, the global warming issue cooled rapidly after that. The Clinton presidency wobbled to an end, Al Gore became the former next President of the United States, Bush II publicly repudiated the Kyoto Protocol, and then all attention turned to the aftermath of the Twin Towers.

Undaunted, Al Gore doggedly stayed on-message, delivering his Inconvenient Truth lecture again and again around the world. Due in significant part to his advocacy, the global climate change issue has heated up again, and 2006 has seen it reach a second boiling point. The success of his film, and supporting actors, Tsunami and Katrina, have again propelled Al Gore and global climate change to the forefront. Now, in the wake of the aptly named Stern Review On The Economics of Climate Change, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, heir apparent to Tony Blair, has even asked Al Gore to be the British government's special advisor on global climate change, with an eye to negotiating Kyoto II. Brown must be hoping that his embrace of Al Gore will trump a recent husky-hugging Arctic jaunt by David Cameron, the leader of the newly global climate change-conscious opposition Tories.

Forget the internet; Al Gore has reinvented the global climate change issue.

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