April 30, 2007
First of all, I tried all week to catch "An Inconvenient Truth" when it was showing on the movie channel (channel 54 at Hamilton shows a cycle of several movies on a loop each month; this month's movies are "Casino Royale," "Airplane," "Free Willy," "October Sky," "An Inconvenient Truth," and I'm pretty sure there's one more I'm forgetting), but I missed it literally every time I checked. I was REALLY busy and the last thing I should have been doing was watching a 2-hour movie, which I finally realized and gave up and looked it up on Wikipedia instead. Plus I'd heard that his speech was almost exactly like the movie, so I figured I'd avoid some repetition that way. I just didn't want to be the only one meeting Al Gore who was an idiot and had never seen his movie. Luckily, his speech outlined everything he covers in the documentary version, with some additional Hamilton references that really personalized it. Gore's business partner in his investment firm, Generation Investment Management, is David Blood-- a Hamilton graduate and an EXTREMELY generous donor. We have Mr. Blood to thank for our amazing new fitness center (Gore made a joke about it being "where students go to bleed").
Now, onto the speech. First of all, anyone who criticizes Gore for being "boring" is an idiot. I was literally moved to chills from his speech. I also laughed really hard several times, not in a "I'm laughing quietly to myself in an academic setting" way, but the legitimate kind of laugh a good comedian can wrench from you. For example, he was using a Mac computer to present his slide show while he spoke, and he used a "drop" feature where an icon of Greenland fell down from the top of the screen and bounced a bit. He did it a few times and said how much he loved this feature and got several laughs, at which point I remember thinking that I know he's on the board of directors of Apple, and this was pretty much shameless promotion. And then he said something like, "See, they took this feature out in the OS X version, but one of the perks of being on the board of directors of Apple is that I got it put back in" and clearly poked fun at himself.
The speech itself was great. I turn off everything electric when I leave the room; I try to recycle; I drive a Toyota Corolla; I turn off the shower when someone leaves it dripping; so I consider myself somewhat environmentally friendly. But I had no idea how much CO2 we're contributing to the atmosphere and how damaging it may be, as well as how much the earth's climate has changed in recent years to accompany this spike in CO2 emissions. For example, did you know that the past ten hottest summers on record have all occurred within the past fourteen years? Or that the intensity of hurricanes has increased so much that scientists are considering adding a category six to the classification system for the first time in history? He showed photos of glaciers taken in the 1970s and compared them to recent photos, and the glaciers were completely gone or nearly gone in all of them. I really can't do his presentation justice; all I can tell you is that you really need to see the movie and educate yourself, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or you don't care at all about politics. There's really no debate anymore about whether global warming is happening-- it is. The thing dissenters are trying to argue now is that human influence is negligible, and that the earth goes through normal patterns of temperature fluctuations. I will use my future attorney skills and Writing Center eloquence here to say that this argument is total crap. At least see this movie before you disagree with it. It's better to be safe than sorry.
After the speech, I waited in a long line with a few of my friends to shake Al's hand and get a picture with him. I hadn't eaten dinner and his speech was over 2 hours long, so I was visibly shaky and starving, and I couldn't tell at the time what I was more excited for: Al Gore, or the chocolate truffles set up behind him. I managed to get my low blood sugar under control for like 20 seconds when I shook his hand and got into picture-taking formation with him and my friend Sarah. When I shook his hand, I said "PLEASE run for president. I would sleep better at night if you did," to which he laughed and said "thanks," and then he put his arms around Sarah and I and said, and I QUOTE, that we looked BEAUTIFUL. How nice of you to say, Al. Then I darted into the truffle line, ate like 7 while I was in line, stuffed a few into my purse really classily, and then sped off to Uno's with my other starving friend. And that's the story of me meeting Al Gore. In all seriousness, his speech really made me want to DO something about this. Maybe I'll deal with environmental law; who knows. For now, I'm going to stick with recycling and driving a Toyota.