The first-ever-in-the-U.S. United Nations World Environment
Day was a true green letter event, held appropriately in the city voted the
greenest in the land.
There were many
highlights: Accords were signed by more than 100 cities pledging to take three
positive environmental steps per year and two dozen Mayors added their names to
a Kyoto-like agreement drafted by Seattle’s
Mayor Greg Nickels after the three driest winters in the rainiest city’s
Even Mr. Hummer himself, The Governator, came out with a bold new
initiative for reducing California’s
greenhouse gases over the next 20 years, although he failed to renounce his own
fleet of gargantuan gas guzzlers. But in the end, was UNWED a watershed event
or just another green blot of ink on the road to sustainability?
What may make the difference was an energized Al
Gore, sounding like a born again eco-evangelist as he delivered three speeches,
complete with a flashy powerpoint presentation demonstrating the already
documented effects of climate disruption.
Gore, of course, has been a longtime
environmentalist – except, some would argue, when it mattered most – during his
presidential campaign in which he became bewilderingly quiet about global
warming (as would the next Democratic
candidate for President, John Kerry).
Both likely fell victim to campaign
handlers catering to the concerns of mainstream America
which never ranks the environment in the top ten list.
But back to “the former
next President of the United States
as Gore introduced himself. “Humanity is
on a collision course with the planet,” he railed, shaking his fist to
punctuate our “planetary emergency.”
It’s not that the information he presented was new to both
the Birkenstock activists, and later well-heeled gala dinner crowd on the last
evening of the conference. Rather, it was the repetition of so many frightening
facts, graphs and photos depicting diminishing ice sheets and a spiking global
population, ever hungrier for food and fuel, that left us reeling.
pictures-don’t-lie speech was delivered with anger, humor and most of all, a
passion rarely associated with the “stiff and wooden” former Vice
President. One can’t help but ask,
“Where was this green urgency when he was in the White House? Why did Gore and
his former boss Clinton wait until they left power to become such good foot soldiers for the
environment?” Scratch, scratch.
Many of us who were “lucky” enough to see it first hand (and
have not slept well since) left feeling as though life as we know it will never
be the same. I heard more than a few
attendees suggest “He take his show on
the road” to awaken the slumbering masses. And so he may, in the form of a
documentary being funded by the likes of Laurie David (wife of Larry) and her
crowd of producers, pundits and part-time activists. As David said at the gala
dinner, they’ve already raised funds for the film, which will chronicle Gore’s
20-year environmental crusade (minus the crucial 8) across America.
Think Al Gore meets Michael Moore and hope for blockbuster crowds munching on
partially-hydrogenated buttered popcorn.
So three weeks after this historic event what has changed?
For one thing, the bad news buzz has begun to leak outside of the usual crowds.
Several of my non-eco friends remarked over lunch last week that “They’ve now
determined that global warming is real” ( –psst, pass it on, along with the
new-found angst!). And before the ink on the accords was dry, an official with
the Bush administration was caught doctoring documents, downplaying the links
between greenhouse gases and climate change (and just who do they think
they’re fueling?). The local version of
Kyoto now has more than 160 Mayors pledging to have their cities do their part to
combat climate change.
Last but not least, my friends are finally beginning to
understand what made me leave daily journalism and a formerly active social life behind to Green the Red and Blue
States One Show At A Time.
haven’t been able to check “Save The Planet” off my to-do list yet.
So now that there’s evidence the COD’s (Complacent,
Oblivious and in Denial) – as I call US, – are starting to hear the canaries
singing, the country may be reaching a tipping point on recognition of the
The only problem is that if Gore, Gelbspan (Ross Gelbspan,
author of “Boiling Point,” the treatise on Global Warming) et al, are correct,
we’re going to quickly go from critical mass to critical mess and
that has some of us a bit Unglued.