July 24, 2023
Partly cloudy. High 85 degrees.
Coming to Terms
By Carol Tannenhauser
Al Gore. Whose vice president was he? Oh, right, Bill Clinton’s. Whose husband was he? It seems so long ago — 1992 — when the Clintons and Gores burst onto the political scene to the soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop [Thinking About Tomorrow].” I’m afraid, Al Gore (Can I call you Al?), we did. And tomorrow has arrived.
Did my generation, the once-idealistic Baby Boomers, cause the climate chaos that is currently ravaging the globe? Did we destroy our gorgeous, Goldilocks planet?
In fairness, it was a member of the Greatest Generation who cornered Dustin Hoffman’s 20-year-old character in The Graduate in 1967 and said, with regard to the young man’s future: ‘I have just one word for you: Plastics.'” Where is he now to tell us how to get plastics out of our oceans and landfills?
I remember Al Gore as being dour. Other problems seemed more pressing at the time — climate change was theoretical, hypothetical, and very far away — until this summer, when the extreme weather Gore predicted in his 2006 book and documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” “seems to have arrived all at once,” said The New York Times.
Canada is burning and we’re inhaling its secondhand smoke. Vermont is counting inches of mud, not snow. Phoenix is hovering around 118 degrees, and, according to USA Today, “Alaska is baked.” CBS News reported that “Heat records are being shattered all over the U.S. South, from California to Florida. But it’s far more than that. It’s worldwide, with devastating heat hitting Europe along with dramatic floods in the U.S. Northeast, India, Japan and China….The Earth is in uncharted territory.”
New York City has been relatively lucky so far. Aside from some super soakings and a surreal orange sky — and virtually no snow last winter — we have been spared the far worse conditions in some other places. Extreme climate change is still something on the news that’s happening to someone else, in some town or neighborhood other than the Upper West Side.
We Boomers could just run down the clock; many of us won’t experience humanity’s darkest — or brightest — days, if they should come. Of course, there’s the niggling awareness of our children and grandchildren….
I was happy to hear that Al Gore is still advocating — “He’s been shouting from the rooftops about the risks of global warming more or less nonstop,” said The Times — and to be reminded that he won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 (together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) for his efforts. “Gore is probably the single individual who has done most to rouse the public and the governments that action had to be taken to meet the climate challenge,” the Nobel Prize Foundation wrote, “and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”
“We know how to fix this,” Gore told The Times. “Clean energy is cheaper than ever, and electric vehicle sales are surging, turbocharged by government subsidies. Put that all together, and…developed economies could draw down their emissions with surprising speed.”
We’re listening now, Al, and here’s to you.
Have a great week!
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