Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Al Gore

I arrived a few minutes after 11am for Al Gore's noon signing at the Harvard Book Store. A friendly employee pointed me to the line on Plympton Street. I walked three short blocks and entered the line. The woman at the end of the line, talking on a cell phone, paused and smiled at me and said, "The line's over there." She pointed to the next block. As I headed to the true end of the line, a fifty-something woman in pigtails said, "I wish I could cut in like that." Yes, I said pigtails.

People were very polite and the Harvard Book Store staff managed an appealing combination of informality and organization. I met Al Gore at around 12:40pm. I didn't get a good look at him, and it all happened so fast. A nice lady took my book and asked me, "How are you?" as she passed it to another employee, who passed it to Al Gore. He told the couple in front of me, "Nice of you folks to come by." As I approached him, I observed a large man with grayish hair, light eyes, and pale, reddish skin. He signed my book, looked directly at me, and paused ever so briefly to offer his hand. He gave me a very firm, thorough shake and thanked me. I was elated.

As for this climate crisis, I do what I can. The cynical attitude that drives people to say, "Look at all the paper he's wasting with this book," or "What about all that jet fuel he's using?" irritate me because they miss the point. The idea is not to stop living. It's about becoming aware and making small changes that can have large consequences. All of my lamps (with the exception of one decorative lamp that I use on special occasions) use low electricity and compact fluorescent bulbs. I recycle all plastic, paper, cardboard, batteries--everything I can. I don't own a car. I unplug electronic devices when they're not in use. These are the small things that I do. I have reduced my own CO2 emissions to a reasonable extent.

It saddens me that, a couple weeks ago, certain very close relatives in Miami replaced two sedans--both purchased last year--with SUVs. One of them actually saw "An Inconvient Truth." With me. I urged them to buy hybrids, or even smaller cars, but nothing I could say could convince them. I know that I live in a progressive and green bubble here on Boston's Left Bank, and that the rest of the country isn't as mindful, but I refuse to become bitter or cynical. Some people are just having a hard time getting the message, but that doesn't mean that we should give up on them. I won't, and I know that Al Gore won't.