Songwriter Jill Sobule was challenged to write an appropriate song to introduce Al Gore. She’s got a pretty little ditty with the chorus “Everyone’s out in merry Manhattan in January”.
Al Gore’s the comedy relief. No, seriously. He’s really, really funny. After apologizing to Majora Carter for slighting her – and offering her a seat on the board of his new initiative -he gives a standup routine on the challenges of being an ex-Vice President. “I flew on Airforce Two for eight years – now I have to take off my boots to get on an airplane.”
He and Tipper were driving – themselves, he notes with a sniff – when he discovered something amazing. He looked in the rear-view mirror and discovered that there was no motorcade! “You’ve heard of phantom limb pain. Imagine the pain of a phantom motorcade.” They pulled into a Shoney’s for dinner, where the waitress made a big deal of his presence. Talking to the next table over, she said to the customer, “That’s former vice-president Al Gore.” To which he resonded, “Boy, he’s really come down in the world.”
A day later, after flying on (someone else’s) Gulfstream to Lagos, he tells this story to a Nigerian audience. They thought it was pretty funny. But he realized the impact when they stopped for refueling in the Azores. A man ran across the tarmac carrying a sign “Call Washington”.
Al wondered what could be so wrong in Washington… then realised “quite a bit”. So he called his staff and found out that a Nigerian wire service reporter had posted a story which had Gore saying, “My wife Tipper and I have opened a low-cost family restaurant called Shoney’s and are operating it ourselves.” Unsurprisingly, this moved across late night TV rather quickly, resulting in a handwritten congratulations from Bill Clinton. “We like to celebrate each other’s successes in life.”
Shifting quickly from humor to his serious subject, he offers suggestions on what we, as individuals, can do to help save the planet. He offers the following list:
– Reduce emissions in your own home
– Buy a hybrid car
– Be a green consumer, especially for efficient appliances
– Live a carbon-neutral life, reducing your footprint and offsetting your impact with carbon credits, pointing us to Climatecrisis.net
– Promote and share his slide show, which will be a move called “The Inconvenient Truth”
– Become politically active
– Use tools of mass persuasion, including impact ads, to share the message
His big idea is one inspired by trying to help his daughter with debilitating migraine headaches. Ultimately, she was treated with biofeedback – looking at a visualization of brain waves and being told “make the bar go down”. We need the same sort of biofeedback for the planet. He talks about putting a satellite at the L1 stable orbit point between the Earth and the Sun, measuring how the earth absorbs and radiates energy, allowing us to detect enegry going in and out. Until we have a measure of this energy, we can’t measure how well we’re “making the bar go down.” This satellite exist – it was built in 1998 and slated for launch in early 2001, but it was cancelled. This is precisely the type of feedback we need to figure out how we can save our world.
Editorializing: I’ve long been an an admirer of Jimmy Carter, who’s done so much more for the world out of office than he did in office. It’s pretty clear to me that Al Gore may well be the next Jimmy Carter, being so much more powerful AFTER he’s been the second most powerful person on the planet.