Monday, October 15, 2007

Whose Gore is being Oxed?

While the Right fumes over Gore's having been awarded a portion of the 2007 Nobel Peace prize, the Left celebrates and calls for his immediate entry into the Presidential sweepstakes. All this would be really quite amusing if it weren't so depressing: a moment's thought about the issue reveals that celebration over the Goracle's triumph is less an indication of our enthusiasm over remediating the enormous implications of global warming than it is our wish to feel that rush of self-satisfaction knowing that we want to do our part to save the planet, all the while not having to really do a damn thing. Even as the film "An Inconvenient Truth" is celebrated far and wide, I've yet to hear someone observe that it doesn't really say a thing about what the hell we're supposed to do. Indeed, I came away thinking that the main message that it was sufficient to be indignant about the problem, not to change one's behavior. Case in point: it would be interesting to figure out how much fossil fuel Gore burned in only the parts of the movie in which he is being pictured typing on his Mac on airplanes or or looking pensively out the window of his limousine as he's being chauffeured from event to event.

George Monbiot captures this phenomenon of self-seeking self-satisfaction as well as anyone:

"We wish our governments to pretend to act," he writes. "We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity."

The Right's all worked up about this, but my advice is: don't worry. No one is going to spoil the party yet. Let the kids clean up.

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