Al Gore: Earth’s friend or foe?

What I love about doing biographies is that the subjects cease being cardboard cutouts. Their complexities become apparent, sometimes endearing, and sometimes eyebrow-raising. And still, it’s impossible to really know them.

That was never more true than when I researched Al Gore last year for my latest biography.

Gore has the unfortunate lot of being polarizing. Nobody’s neutral about Gore. For many, he represents liberalism at its finger-waggingest, along with wealth, an ivy league education and political advantage. His father was a U.S. Senator and by all accounts, his mother groomed him almost from infancy for political office. He wasn’t dubbed the Prince of Tennessee for nothing. For others, Gore is a modern-day Cassandra, with both the foresight and the lengthy trail of disbelievers. He also represents crushed hopes in the form of the 2000 election.

The polarization surrounding him appear par for the course. I discovered a man whose life was a study in contrasts. He attended rural Tennessee schools and worked the land with farmhands, but also lived in a Washington hotel and attended exclusive private schools. The toughest contrast to reconcile was his unflinching fight for an environment free of toxins, while still advocating for tobacco farmers, even after losing his beloved sister to lung cancer.

Despite understanding what’s behind people’s feelings about Gore, I’m still not sure why his advocacy for the planet is received with such ire. Gore’s interest was piqued when he was a child, observing farmers’ conservation efforts, and then pushed further when his mother read him Rachel Carson‘s SILENT SPRING. By the time he arrived at Harvard and met Professor Roger Revelle, becoming a “conservation hero” was just a matter of time.

Gore has devoted a huge amount of time, resources and energy to educating people about environmental dangers, pushing legislation, and investing his own money in forward-thinking technology. Even if you don’t care for him personally, what’s the objection to a cleaner environment, and economically beneficial tech?

Gore’s not a perfect guy, but he’s no foe either.

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4 thoughts on “Al Gore: Earth’s friend or foe?

  1. SandySays1 says:

    I like your even-handed presentaion. My human is as devoted outdoorsman and conservation person as you’ll find. But he also believes in the truth. He volunteers at an archaeological dig in SW Florida. In the course of working there he discovered that in the past 2000 years the Gulf of Mexico has been 4′ higher (around the height of the Roman empires might) and 2′ lower (in the 800’s). It’s true there’s climate change. Always has been – always will be, but only man is so arrogant to thing he has any real impact on it.
    Sandy
    http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

  2. Tracey says:

    People are definitely arrogant, Sandy, but it’s also arrogant to think that the massive world population and huge amount of industry pollution aren’t also contributing factors to climate change.

    Btw, what kind of dog are you, Sandy? Retriever? You remind me of a dog I had when I was a kid. His name was Happy.

  3. SandySays1 says:

    Yep I’m a Golden Retriever. I do agree that human polution is a factor – the question is the size. You’ll not hear me say we shouldn’t conserve, reduce polution to a minimum, and respect our environmemt. What I sure as hell object to is the politicalization of an important topic for personal gain.
    Sandy

  4. Tracey says:

    I love Golden Retrievers! Especially ones that type!

    From my research I don’t think Gore’s making this political for personal gain, but some of his actions don’t quite add up. He was definitely the most complicated person I’ve done a biography on.

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