You read that right. When. Why am I so certain? I have of course no inside knowledge. None. Yet I’ve been certain that he would get in ever since I first saw An Inconvenient Truth, a year and a half ago. And my certainty has only grown since then. Am I delusional? Hardly. I just use a different primary premise for my opinion. Disclaimer: I am not an American. I can’t vote in your election, though I’ve followed your politics almost obsessively ever since watching the 2000 election debacle live on television (Canadians have a front-row seat when it comes to watching you). No, my friends. The timing of Gore’s entry is not so much to do with Hillary, ballot deadlines or any Hamlet-like hesitations on Gore’s part as it is about a meeting of world leaders on climate in Bali in December and all the meetings that will follow in the coming years and that will ultimately decide the fate of humanity on this planet.
Now first off, let me just address the doubters on this one. We’ve all heard your reasons and you’re entitled to them. Fair enough. To take an example, one frequent rebuttal now doing the rounds (for the umpteenth time) is that Gore “hasn’t the stomach” (dixit the doubters) for a run any more. Because he’s “fallen out of love with politics”. He said so himself. He’s even written a book to explain why the system is so “toxic”, so “broken”, so “sclerotic” (all his words, absolutely). But to “logically conclude” from his devastating critique of that “toxic process” that Gore has “decided to stay out” (he has made no such assertion) is basically to judge him as a coward. For if he is truely convinced the system is as broken as he claims, and with the level of righteous anger he expresses, given his particular skill set and depth of experience of that system, for him to decline to attempt to fix it would be akin to a top-flight neuro-surgeon diagnosing a deadly but still-operable brain tumor and telling the patient he won’t operate because he’s fallen out of love with surgery…
So let’s put that meme to rest right now, shall we? I think we can all agree that the proof is in. The man is a lion.
Anyone who can come out of the crucible of 2000 to face down the petro-denialists and singlehandedly put the arcane issue of global warming at the top of the international agenda is no shrinking violet. He’s a giant-slayer and a hero. Face it: Al Gore has finally come into his own, as a human being AND as a politician. If you haven’t heard him lately, he gives a barn-burner of a stump speech on Restoring Democracy, the Constitution and the Rule of Law in America.
But the main reason I’m so convinced he will run is the same reason he’s been barnstorming around the world for the past five years trying to alert the entire human race to the unprecedented danger it and we all face. Because he takes what he calls a planetary emergency very seriously, so seriously he has made it the single driving focus of his life, his raison d’être. It is that deathly serious, do or die, life-and-death issue that has liberated him to speak so much truth to Power and to speak out so forcefully not only on climate, but on Iraq, on the Patriot Act, on Warrantless Wiretapping, on the Unitary Executive, on the suspension of Habeas Corpus, on Torture, and on every other egregious power-grab by this administration, long before it was popular and long before any one else had the courage and vision to do so.
And it is the climate issue that will ultimately drive him into this race. The only question is when. And here I, personally, strongly believe the timing has everything to do with the UN conference in Bali in December, which Bush has been moving heaven and earth to pre-empt and sabotage and derail, and rounding up the usual suspects to enable him (among whom I am deeply ashamed to have to point the finger at my own country) though he may soon have one of his main accomplices .
The upcoming UN climate convention talks in Bali in December may get a last-minute shake-up with signs that Australia, an opponent of the Kyoto Protocol and key US climate ally, may well switch sides on the eve of the meeting.
Australia, the only other rich nation along with the US not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, could soon see a change of government to the pro-Kyoto Labor Party. A national election is due and Prime Minister John Howard says he will have it by early December at the latest. Most political observers believe it will be in late November.
Such a move would further isolate the United States in its stance against firm caps on greenhouse gas emissions (…)
The stakes have been raised in the stand-off over international climate action in the past week with competing high-level meetings by the UN and the Bush Administration held within days of each other in New York and Washington. The meetings were billed by their respective hosts, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US President George W Bush, as important precursors to the crucial Bali meeting. But they saw little progress as both sides stuck to their guns on the vexed question of which nations should commit to mandatory emission reduction targets.
It is unlikely, however, that an Australian switch to adopt the Kyoto Protocol would lead to a major shift in policy by the US at Bali to support firm caps on carbon emissions. (…)
Yes it is getting late, almost too late, but not for Gore to run for the presidency. To save humanity from itself.
For a long time now, top climate scientists have been “running around with their hair on fire”, to borrow a phrase from the 9/11 lexicon, even though the crisis we face is orders of magnitude greater than 10,000 9/11s. But now some of the most respected climate watchers are telling us that we may have already reached the tipping point and even the UN is warning that climate change disaster is upon us .
A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world this year amount to a climate change “mega disaster”, the United Nation’s emergency relief coordinator, Sir John Holmes, has warned.
Sir John, a British diplomat who is also known as the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said dire predictions about the impact of global warming on humanity were already coming true.
“We are seeing the effects of climate change. Any year can be a freak but the pattern looks pretty clear to be honest. That’s why we’re trying … to say, of course you’ve got to deal with mitigation of emissions, but this is here and now, this is with us already,” he said.
And this is what is coming down the pipe, if nothing changes, thanks to the Bush Administration.
A climate-change summit is to be held in Bali in December, with the aim of agreeing the principles of a new international treaty to replace Kyoto, the accord that expires in 2012. But the talks face determined US opposition to mandatory emissions targets, and most climate negotiators doubt a real breakthrough can be achieved before the Bush government leaves office in 2009.
According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is leading research on the issue, global warming will disrupt and potentially devastate the lives of billions of people.
And, just as global warming starts to make itself felt, there are signs that “donor fatigue” has set in. Of about $338m (£166m) requested for Ocha’s 13 flash appeals this year, only $114m has so far come from donors.
Bali will be crucial, but what happens after Bali will determine the fate of our economies, our environment, our civilisation and maybe even our species, depending on how we respond and whether we do in time. That’s where bold, visionary, inspirational, intellectually brilliant and politically experienced, internationally respected and morally authoritative leadership will be essential. No other country bit the U.S. is in a comparable position to lead on this and no U.S. leader other than Gore possesses the required combination of qualifications and knowledge of the system to make the climate issue the “organizing principle” of the U.S. administration.
And thanks to his 30-year focus on global warming, his profound and long-standing grasp of the issue, his formidable web of relationships in the scientific community, his long experience of the political sphere, his astute, ground-breaking understanding of the media, and an overarching personal narrative that will embue his campaign with the Power of Myth, Gore is uniquely equipped to tackle the climate emergency, along with the many crises that have beset America since Bush took office.
As Jim Hansen put it perhaps better than anyone, in a review of An Inconvenient Truth in the New York Times:
The reader might assume that I have long been close to Gore, since I testified before his Senate committee in 1989 and participated in scientific “roundtable” discussions in his Senate office. In fact, Gore was displeased when I declined to provide him with images of increasing drought generated by a computer model of climate change. (I didn’t trust the model’s estimates of precipitation.) After Clinton and Gore were elected, I declined a suggestion from the White House to write a rebuttal to a New York Times Op-Ed article that played down global warming and criticized the Vice President. I did not hear from Gore for more than a decade, until January of this year, when he asked me to critically assess his slide show. When we met, he said that he “wanted to apologize,” but, without letting him explain what he was apologizing for, I said, “Your insight was better than mine.”
Indeed, Gore was prescient. For decades he has maintained that the Earth was teetering in the balance, even when doing so subjected him to ridicule from other politicians and cost him votes. By telling the story of climate change with striking clarity in both his book and movie, Al Gore may have done for global warming what Silent Spring did for pesticides. He will be attacked, but the public will have the information needed to distinguish our long-term well-being from short-term special interests.
An Inconvenient Truth is about Gore himself as well as global warming. It shows the man that I met in the 1980s at scientific roundtable discussions, passionate and knowledgeable, true to the message he has delivered for years. It makes one wonder whether the American public has not been deceived by the distorted images of him that have been presented by the press and television. Perhaps the country came close to having the leadership it needed to deal with a grave threat to the planet, but did not realize it.
And now, at this time most dire, the chance has come again, both for the American people and for the rest of us.
No. This isn’t about the Nobel or electability or stopping Hillary or anything else. This is about the future and the fate of the coming generations of human beings on this planet Will humankind continue to prosper and thrive and evolve for the better, or will future generations of our kin be living in a nightmare world of wars for water, massive movements of displaced people, starvation, disease and constant conflict for survival?
This is about laying a marker, for the other Democartic candidates and the American public and all the world to see. And Gore will enter at precisely the moment when his entry will have the most impact, in terms of influencing what happens in Bali and beyond. Gore will be drawing a line in the sand, and not just on climate, but on Iraq, on the Consitution and habeas corpus, and torture and rendition and warrantless wiretapping and restoring checks and balances and oversight and the Rule of Law, and the Geneva Conventions and America’s honour in the world. He will run because he must.