Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why Do We Love to Ignore Al Gore?

Gore addressed Congress Wednesday arguing that the Senate adopt President Obama's economic stimulus plan. The plan includes investments in energy efficiency, clean cars, a smart grid, and renewables. Gore urged Congress to adopt the bill, but will they listen? And second, if this artillery is brought forward will Americans be willing to accept the sacrifices it will take to get this country weaned off of oil. As it most certianly not be easy since we have no model to base our success upon.

Those issues aside, Al Gore has done more to enlighten this country to the perils of climate change than any other environmentalist to date. Yet, we continue to ignore his (and) others pleas for action. I can't help but wonder why we love to applaud his commendable efforts and at the same time brush off what is at the heart of his arguments.

My first answer to this question is, simply, that we as a nation have grown accustomed to seeing Al lose. Ever since his failed attempt at the Presidency back in 2000 (his fault or not) we just can't picture him as a leader. My beef with that conclusion, however, it that I hope we Americans just aren't that mean. Everybody fails sometime. The fact that he lost the battle for the nation's highest office may be exactly what he needed to renew his conviction to bring attention to what, I argue, is America's greatest challenge and win the Nobel Prize.

My second answer is that maybe those leaders, on whom we depend on to bring in the heavy policy artillery needed to begin this battle, have just grown too accustomed to hearing his pleas--thus, losing their vigor. Gore has, after all, been fixture in American politics for over 20 years. Again, I find this unpersuasive because America has been listening to the voices of many political mainstays for just as long, if not longer (especially on economic policy i.e. Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney).

My final conclusion is that its not Al Gore, it is the packaging in which he brings his message. Americans have been listening to the doom/gloom of global warming for so long that it has lost its luster. It seems that the only remaining option is to repackage the idea. What we can learn from those proponents (see above) of laissez faire economics is that, any doom and gloom associated with your ends can't be the focal point of your address. The focus has to be the benefits, not the costs. To date, we don't, as Americans, have a vision for what our "New America" would look like. We need something to look forward to.

Sorry Al, maybe, just maybe, this time we will listen, but if not maybe it's time for some new advertising.

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