An environmentalist plods on

Orly Mercado

Posted on February 2, 2007

Is Al Gore Nobel or Oscar material?

TV commentator Jack Cafferty posed the question on CNN. Is Al Gore Nobel prize or Oscar material? This after news reports about a possible nomination for the peace prize, and a chance to win an Oscar for his compelling film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Recent media reports have confirmed Gore’s allegations that American Petroleum Institute lobbyist Phillip Cooney was the chief operative of the Bush-Cheney White House global warming disinformation campaign. Cooney, a lawyer without any scientific training, was “empowered by the president to edit and censor the official documents on global warming,” as Gore avers in his film.

It appears that Cooney, who had since resigned and is now on the payroll of Exxon Mobil, was not merely trying to protect the “Decider-in-Chief” from information overload. He was involved in a different kind of knowledge management. It obviously was not to make decision making easier. There was a mind set of denial of the threat of global warming in the White House. This is a clear example of confirmation bias. The filtering of information so that it supports only an established point of view. This self-serving bias is as selective as it is sinister. As a result, the effort to confront the crisis that is global warming, has lost valuable time as skeptics sought to undermine international cooperation. The race against time is most pressing in third world countries in Asia and the Pacific where millions are or could end up environmental refugees.

The champions of denial are now in retreat. Even George Bush is trying to catch up to be at the front of the parade. Local and state governments are showing the way to respond to the challenge. The consensus of the scientific community is clear for all to see. The world owes these scientists who have labored through the decades to gather, organize and validate the data that now forms the clear and disturbing images of global warming.

We also owe Al Gore a lot. Here is a political leader who has plodded on with his message. He may have been born to a life of privilege, but he is an activist who refuses to give up. Out of public office, he has become a better warrior. An Oscar or the Nobel peace prize will give him a bigger weapon, to help us win what could be our most important struggle for survival. He has already made a difference.

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