Last week it was announced that Al Gore, along with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the Nobel Peace Prize. This is odd, because if you check the blogosphere, peace is the last thing that the announcement created.Both sides of the political spectrum have been riled up by last Friday’s announcement, with the right questioning the exorbitant electricity bills of Gore’s Nashville manor and with some on the left calling on him to run in the upcoming presidential race.
First things first, Al Gore should not run for president. Gore recognizes that by not running he will be able to effect more change — especially now with the Nobel — on the issue that matters most to him. He is right to say that global warming is not “a political issue,” and even more right to recognize that it is more than an American issue. A presidency or even a presidential run would slow down his momentum and his ability to change popular opinion about global warming around the world.
Plus, for the first time in years, the Democrats have a strong field of candidates and — at least at this point — look poised to take the White House without much of a fight from the drained Republican side. Much of the buildup around Gore’s potential presidential run comes from restless Democratic party hardliners who are still insecure after Kerry’s failure to unseat Bush.
But much can be learned from the publicity surrounding Fred Thompson’s entrance into the race a few weeks ago. Thompson entered the troubled Republican field with sizeable expectations, and even greater hype, but after a few weeks of uninspired campaigning and a below-poor debate showing, his bid is dead in the water.
It is not like Gore is the only “environmentally friendly” politician in the field today. Barack Obama has pledged to implement a carbon “cap and trade” system if elected, and is running a carbon-neutral campaign, which is matched only by John Edwards in the Democratic field.
A closer inspection needs to be taken of Gore, not as a potential presidential candidate but as the leader of the movement against global-warming. Much credit has to be given to Gore for his tireless crusading on behalf of the climate-change cause, but his methods of raising awareness and changing policy warrant higher scrutiny.
His Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was at times gripping but seemed dedicated more to manipulating an emotional response from its viewers than from presenting both sides of the topic in an elevated manner.
And LiveEarth, the series of one-day concerts spread across the globe that Gore organized this summer, was as directionless as it was self-congratulatory; it had no final goal except to garner publicity for the climate-change movement while having a good time — unlike the 2006 Bob Geldolf-organized Live 8 which at least aimed to hold world leaders responsible for alleviating African debt while also having a good time.
LiveEarth was also less than environmentally friendly — it is reported that the excess carbon output released by concert-goers, performers and technicians would have to be offset by the planting of 100,000 trees.
No one can doubt Gore’s passion or resolve, but the real test will be how effectively he can persuade world leaders and individual citizens to take action. For better or worse, Gore has ingrained himself as the leader of the climate-change movement, and the Nobel further confirms that. All we can do is hope that he actually does know what he is doing.