"It is Time to Make Peace With the Planet," Gore Says at Nobel Ceremony
(IPS) WASHINGTON --
on his Oscar for the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, Al Gore Wednesday launched a $300 million media campaign to mobilize the public for concrete action to reduce global warming.
The "we" campaign, as it is being dubbed, will, among other things, run ads on the most-watched U.S. network television shows featuring pairs of ideological adversaries who stress the overriding threat posed by climate change and the necessity of strong action to drastically curb greenhouse emissions.
Among the "odd couples" who will appear together on the TV spots will be the current Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and one of her more aggressive Republican predecessors, former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Christian Right televangelist Pat Robertson will also appear with the African-American religious leader, Rev. Al Sharpton, to help demonstrate that the threat posed by global warming is so serious that it can unite leaders who disagree on virtually every other conceivable issue.
The campaign, a project of Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP), also aims to highlight climate change as a major issue in this year's presidential and Congressional elections that have so far been dominated by the economic and health-care issues, as well as Iraq and the Bush administration's Terror War.
The three major candidates in the campaign have all promised a major break with Bush's refusal to commit the U.S. to a binding international treaty to reduce greenhouse emissions or to national legislation that would compel reductions by U.S. industry. Bush has claimed that such reductions would exact too high a cost on the national economy.
By contrast, Sen. John McCain, has sponsored legislation that would require a 60-percent reduction from 1990 levels of U.S. emissions by 2050. At the same time, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who are battling for the Democratic presidential nomination, have favoured greater reductions -- up to 80 percent over the same time period.
While Gore has said he is looking forward to a change in U.S. policy, the new campaign reflects his view that Washington's elected leaders will only take strong action if they are pressed to do so by public opinion.
"We can solve the climate crisis, but it will require a major shift in public opinion and engagement," Gore said earlier this week. "The technologies exist, but our elected leaders don't yet have the political will to take the bold actions required."
"When politicians hear the American people calling loud and clear for change, they'll listen," he said.
The initial ads that begin broadcasting Wednesday feature the Oscar-winning actor William Macy comparing the climate-change challenge with the effort to defeat Nazism and Fascism in World War II and overcome segregation and racial discrimination in the United States.
"We didn't wait for someone else to storm the beaches at Normandy," Macy declares, referring to the U.S. invasion of German-occupied France in 1944. "We didn't wait for someone else to guarantee civil rights or put a man on the moon. We can't wait for someone else to solve the global climate crisis. We need to act now." He then refers viewers to the campaign's website, www.wecansolveit.org.
The campaign aims to spend $300 million over the next three years. A number of foundations and Gore himself have pledged about half the total so far. The former vice president said on the widely watched public-affairs program "60 Minutes" Sunday that he was devoting the $750,000 he was given by the Nobel Committee as well as all of the profits made by "An Inconvenient Truth" to the project.
Gore, whose 1992 book, "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit," established his leadership in the environmental field -- the book was published on the eve of the Rio de Janeiro "Earth Summit" -- immersed himself in the issue of global warming after his loss to Bush in the 2000 presidential election.
"An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary based on a slide-show presentation about the dangers posed by global warming that Gore himself developed and personally presented around the country, was a surprise winner at Hollywood's Academy Awards in 2006.
The decision by the Nobel Committee to award him its Peace Prize, which he shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- the international group of thousands of scientists that have issued increasingly urgent warnings about the speed and intensity with which global warming is taking place -- gave Gore unprecedented stature which, to the disappointment of many Democrats, he decided not to use to pursue the 2008 presidential nomination.
He has instead stuck to his efforts to raise public consciousness about climate change and to forge coalitions, especially among religious leaders, to mobilise key constituencies for national legislation and international efforts to curb emissions. He has had particular success in persuading Christian evangelical leaders, who traditionally have been most resistant to environmental activism, to reassess their position.
The specific aim of the campaign -- aside from building public support for national legislation mandating emission reductions -- is to enlist some 10 million volunteer activists willing to devote substantial time and resources to the cause. In addition to the TV spots, the campaign will include ads in other popular media and online networks.
In addition, the campaign has already formed partnerships with large non-governmental organizations, including the Girl Scouts, the National Audubon Society, and United Steelworkers, a prominent labor union.
Some public opinion experts have expressed skepticism that $100 million a year in advertising will make much impact. "I think the global warming project media budget should be 10 times as high," John Murry, a marketing professor at the University of Iowa, told the New York Times this week. "Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi spend over a billion dollars each year to promote brand preference for soft drinks. In this light, the 100 million dollars per year to change our lifestyles seems pretty small."
But campaign organizers, pointing to two wildly successful public service spots -- one against littering, the second against drug use -- over the last 40 years are hoping that the ads will be sufficiently memorable to have the desired impact. One ad, for example, will feature a joint appearance by the Dixie Chicks, who became infamous among some of their country-western fans for denouncing the Iraq war during a tour overseas, and Toby Keith, a flag-waving country-western superstar.
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