"But as I said, the movie is not about him. He is, rather, the surprisingly engaging vehicle for some very disturbing information." That's what A. O. Scott of The New York Times said of Al Gore's "performance" in An Inconvenient Truth in a review article written in May of 2006 - about exactly one year before we started this Down To Earth blog. But excuse us if we drop a bombshell disclosure on you and say that An Inconvenient Truth had little if any influence over our environmental news ambitions. Just convenient timing. It did however give us a new reason to pay attention to and consider the relevancy of the former vice president - and admittedly crash course learn of his environmental prowess. Maybe an even bigger bombshell disclosure would be that before An Inconvenient Truth, we had only casually known of Al Gore's eco cred, and once joked that his "role" in An Inconvenient Truth was another lucky career break ala Kiefer Sutherland in "24" - remember, we're only in our mid twenties.
But if you read through the Times' review, you see that even they didn't properly portray the fact that for 30+ years, Al Gore has been a student of the climate crisis and an advocate for change in environmental policies. They were confused, a little caught off guard - just like everybody else in America. And you could argue that in the 3+ years since, most people still don't get it. And that's what makes Al Gore so incredible. Because in those 3+ years since, he hasn't stopped trying to make it less confusing, he hasn't stopped trying to advance the discussion on climate change. Even if you don't agree with Gore's message, you can't disagree with his effectiveness in engaging both citizens and politicians in the climate conversation.
So what does this have to do with the present? Well "The Goracle" is back, and he's back in a big way. In a recent piece in Newsweek titled, "The Evolution of an Eco-Prophet", Gore talks about his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis and provides insight into the intense fact-gathering process behind the book - analyzing from Gore which Joseph Romm, former head of the Department of Energy's renewables program called, "a fire hydrant of information."
It's hard to imagine a better time for Al Gore to once again be at the forefront of the climate conversation - but it would be better to imagine there not being a conversatin at all. For it was that 2006 Times' review that gave us the line, "'An Inconvenient Truth,' Davis Guggenheim's new documentary about the dangers of climate change, is a film that should never have been made. So like we did three years ago, we will "continue a process of education that could hardly be more urgent." Click HERE to read an exerpt from Gore's new book, and continue after the jump for some stories you might have missed last week.
A quick hit on energy consumption in the NW. According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, improved energy efficiency reduced power demand by an amount equal to about 148,000 homes across the Northwest last year - the highest energy savings since recordkeeping began 30 years ago. The Portland-based council said that 2008 efficiency improvements conserved a total of 234 average megawatts of electricity — or the output of an average-size natural gas-fired power plant. Kudos Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
These emissions don't run. "Given the location of the world's petroleum reserves, when Americans pull out their credit cards at the gas pump or pay for their heating fuel, they indirectly fund Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear and missile programs, enrich Muammar Qaddafi (while he rants at the UN against the United States, and give assistance to Vladimir Putin as he threatens American interests in the Caucasus and Central Europe." This was part of an interesting theory written last week in The Christian Science Monitor about changing the discussion on climate change and cutting emissions by tapping into American's patriotism, and historical displays of conservation, sacrifice, and dedication to a greater good. But as a country, and a world, aren't we at a different place now? We think so, which is why we find flaws in this theory. But it's a great read nonetheless. Check it out HERE.
“…a new voting bloc that will put more emphasis on environment and alternative transportation and be less friendly to big-box development.” The victories of Amber Waldref and Jon Snyder in the City Council election seem to have former Councilman Brad Stark worried. “I’ll admit that I have some concern about the fiscal health of the city moving forward,” he said in the S-R. No doubt still bitter about his loss to Richard Rush and his endorsement of Mike Allen, it was a cheap shot. The change---as development friendly Al French leaves---will mean no more “Gang Of Four” and is a progressive one and welcome to Spokane. Economically and environmentally. Full story HERE.
Born to run. Did anybody catch the feature on friend of DTE, Hank Greer of Shallow Cogitations fame? While he took umbrage with points in the article, the fact remains: Barefoot running can be healthy practice if you start slowly. The president of the American Academy of Pediatric Sports Medicine said “Achilles tendon complaints have increased about 10 percent and plantar fasciitis has remained the same since the advent of the new running shoe in the ’70s.” A familiar sight at the Flying Irish Club---which DTE are proud members of---Hank is modest in his motivation: “I’m not trying to start some sort of a movement or anything.” Read HERE.
“Eating Animals.” Author Jonathan Safran-Foer has got beef. His first work of non-fiction asks how Americans can be so kind to the animals they keep as pets yet be indifferent to the ones they cook for dinner. Illuminating indeed. Check an interview with the author HERE.