Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dear Al, Congratulations!

Dear Al,


I wish to congratulate you on winning the Nobel peace prize. I admire your work in raising the consciousness of people about global warming. I have had a change of heart from some years ago when I scoffed at global warming. I remember when they called you “ozone man” and “Owl” Gore, and I snickered. I apologize. You were a prophet crying in the wilderness. The science is in. The issue is settled. You were ahead of your time. Global warming is happening and the activity of mankind is a major contributing factor.

I know you have come in for a lot of criticism and ridicule. A few months ago, you got a lot of criticism from people who said you were a hypocrite because your 20-bedroom, 8-bathroom mansion in Belle Meade with heated swimming pool and gas-lamp- lined driveway uses 20 times as much electricity as the average house in Nashville. Also, some wondered why you need four homes. I don’t like hypocrites. I was disappointed to discover that Rush Limbaugh was a druggie. And, all of those family-value Republicans who have long-term mistresses disappointment me. Anybody might fall from Grace, but purposely living a lifestyle contrary to what you preach is wrong. It you are going to campaign for virtue, you should walk the walk. But, Al, I don’t think you are a hypocrite.

I understand you work out of your home and you have to host a lot of parties, and a mansion that big just takes a lot of electricity. It is often a tactic of people to attack the messenger when they don’t like the message. And, Al, your critics are not above playing the class-envy card. I know it is usually Democrats who play the class-envy card, but Republicans do it do when they can get away with it. The reason Republicans play the envy card less than Democrats is not that Republican are more moral; it is because it does not fit their agenda. The Democrats believe the size of the economic pie is fixed and it is their job to redistribute. Republicans believe we can always make a bigger pie. So, the use of envy simply fits the Democrat agenda better. But, in this case they are trying to use it against you. Populism is the often the refuge of scoundrels.

You can’t help it if you are rich and I don’t hold that against you. I would like to be rich myself. You being richer doesn’t make me any poorer. I don’t expect you to sell your goods and give the money to the poor. Anyway, you bought carbon offsets. Some have said purchasing carbon offsets is like buying indulgences, but if the offsets really do off set, then use all the energy you want. I don’t care. I don’t expect you to live like a commoner. And, I also understand you are remodeling to make your home more eco-friendly. You are changing out all or your light bulbs and I understand you are putting in the same kind of eco-friendly, geo-thermal heating system that George Bush has had in his home for years. Good for you.

Anyway, you won a very prestigious award. I have sometimes wondered, however, why the Nobel Prize ever got to be so prestigious. It is not recognition by your peers, like the Country Music Awards, and is not an honor bestowed on you by the United Nations or anything. Gallup didn’t poll the world to see who should get a Nobel prize. It is not like the Pope making you a Saint. Actually, the Parliament of the somewhat unimportant country of Norway selects five little-known people who decide who gets the award. Did you know that Mahatma Gandhi never did get the Nobel Peace Prize? Many think he did. He was nominated five times, but was never selected.

Al, I also know some people are trying to say that you did not deserve the Nobel Peace prize because your global warming work was not related directly to the cause of peace. However, I think the augment that if we have continued global warming, there will be conflict over natural resources and therefore, curtailing global warming will curtail future conflict has merit. Anyway, there was no other category you fit for a Nobel Prize.

In any event, a lot of other people who got the Peace Prize also came in for criticism. Theodore Roosevelt got it for ending the Russo-Japanese War and some people said he did not deserve it because of his intervention in the Philippines to suppress a revolt snacked of imperialism, but it didn’t bother me. Another great Tennessean, Cordell Hull, got it for his roll in establishing the United Nations; yet his roll in pressuring FDR to refuse asylum to a shipload of Jews seeking asylum from Nazi Germany and their subsequent death in concentration camps should have disqualified him, some have said.

Of course a lot of people said Henry Kissinger did not deserve it, despite his role in negotiating the Vietnam Paris Peace accord. Some feel the secret bombing of Cambodia should have disqualified him and others feel his betrayal of our South Vietnamese ally and the subsequent massive deaths at the hands of the Communist in Vietnam and Cambodia should have disqualified him. And, some claim that Arafat should not have gotten the award because he was a terrorist. And, then there was the African woman who claimed HIV was engineered by white scientist to kill Africans, and some felt that that tarnished her image, and she did not deserve it. So, Al, you are not the first person who got the award that critics said should not have gotten it. It is a prestigious award, so you can rightfully be proud.

Now that you got it, what are you going to do next? I don’t think you have to worry about Bush getting the Supreme Court to take it away from you. I don’t think he can do that. So, you have all of this political capital. Not only do you have this prize, but also you have the two Oscars that your movie won, and a best selling book.

Face it you have raised consciousness. Mission accomplished! So, you don’t need to do Inconvenient Truth II, and one Live Earth was enough. I know Willie Nelson is doing Farm Aid for about the twentieth time, but I think one Earth Aid is enough. After the first one, it is kind of like reruns. So what next? I have a suggestion. Use your political capital to fight for a structural change that will really stop global warming. Don’t waste your enhanced prestige to tell people to change light bulbs or properly inflate their tires. Those things are commendable, but you know as well as I do, that if the problem is really as dire as you say it is, we must do more than that, or more than tinker with the CAFE standards.

In the past you have advocated a carbon tax, including, higher gas taxes. I know that during the Presidential campaign of 2000, you said we needed lower gas prices not higher gas price, but you were trying to get elected then and I don’t hold that against you. Since then, you have often called for a carbon tax. I know many of your most loyal supporters are not going to be happy until we are all living in caves and grubbing for worms. Some are not going to be happy until we remake human nature. But, that is not going to happen. Some of your most loyal followers may have other agendas rather than defeating global warming.

If we had a carbon tax, then people wouldn’t have to be persuaded to conserve because it is a moral choice; they would conserve because the harmful effects of carbon consumption was adequately priced. People respond to prices. There should be no free polluting of the environment with global warming emissions. All of the other alternatives would be cheaper if only carbon emissions were priced. Alan Greenspan, a guy who knows as much about economics as you do global warming, says the economy could tolerate a revenue-neutral gas tax of $3. So, Al, I hope you will not waste your new prestige on symbolic things and instead will make the best of this opportunity to make the structural change this planet needs. You can do it, Al!
I know this has been a long letter. Thank you for indulging me. Again, congratulations on the Peace Prize.

Oh, by the way, I ran into you at an art opening recently, at the Tag Gallery on 5th Ave. I am the guy who said, “Are you really Al Gore or an Al Gore impersonator.” Afterwards I felt so stupid. I think I had had one too many glasses of wine and was just surprised to see you out at an art opening, like a normal person. I am normally not a star-struck idiot. I am sure I did not make a good impression. If I every run into you again, I want to shake your hand and say, “Congratulations on winning the peace prize. I hope you move on to phase II of your campaign to save the planet.”


Rod Williams

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1 comment:

  1. Good letter, Rod. I have long been amazed at the anger and vitriol I see hurled at Al Gore by so many neocone, pseudocons, and just plain nonthinkers. The problem has been known for thirty years and more, and only now, when it is close to too late has the dialogue become front burner, and largely because of his fighting for the truth. It is ironic that the theft of an election and the hate of a whole party has served to propel this to the front burner by the simple political hate and fear of those who see the bottom line as financial rather than human.