Monday, December 7, 2009

Al Gore: Environmentalist, Politician... Poet?

Step aside Shakespeare, Whitman, and Dickinson. Embrace the work of the prophet and Savior, Al Gore.

One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve

Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly

Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning's celebration

Unknown creatures
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups

Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools (1)

It's a very pleasing poem to the global warming advocate, and your average English undergrad may even find it pleasing to the ear, delighted that such language is still used. The problem is, it’s not a very good poem. It lacks depth, is utterly blatant, and unjustifiably implies parity with classical poetry. As for its substance, its purpose is the same as his film's: to scare the hell out of people about global warming.

Yet Gore is somehow collecting idiotic accolades. Mark Hetzgaard, from Vanity Fair, praises him for his contribution, saying of Mr. Gore’s poetic lines: they are visually specific and emotionally arresting even as they are scientifically accurate. (2)

Mr. Hetzgaard should impart his Vanity Fair wisdom about what is so "scientifically accurate" about this poem. It seems much more like a collection of outcomes to an outlandish doomsday prophecy, every bit as "scientific" as the Book of Revelations.

Even more frustrating, of the final stanza, Mr. Hetzgaard has this to say: "Is Gore himself that shepherd? No matter. What counts is that the hour of choosing has indeed arrived." Mr. Hetzgaard can delude himself about the intention, but Al Gore most certainly likens himself to a shepherd in the final stanza, warning his flock about the coming disaster. It is difficult to cast aside his egotism, and even harder to ignore his use of the allegorical "shepherd" imagery to establish himself as a Christ-like figure. But if we push these criticisms of his arrogance aside, we can approach the "scientific accuracy" of his predictions with one question that Mr. Gore repeatedly ignores:

If his predictions are “scientifically accurate,” then why is there a schism in the scientific community between those who believe in anthropogenic global warming and those who believe in naturalistic climate change? There is a consortium of scientists saying that changes in anthropogenic activity will have little effect on future climate patterns. Since the "science" is in contention, perhaps rather than saying Gore is "scientifically accurate," Mr. Hetzgaard would be more truthful to relate that "Mr. Gore is scientifically accurate according to the science that he and I subscribe to."

This poem has little literary value and no scientific merit whatsoever, and should be referenced only as a piece of propaganda espousing man-made global warming. It merely provides a picture of the elaborate Armageddon of the environmentalist's Faith. Given that global warming alarmism is the creed of choice for many liberal arts patrons, I will not be surprised when Gore claims a Pulitzer.

But Gore’s poem is brilliant in one specific way, insofar as his intent. He seems as if he’s channeling masterful poets, almost as if written in emulation of classical poetry. This is evident in William Petrocelli’s account in the Huffington Post. In an effort to receive self-validation, Gore jovially suggested to his editor that William Butler Yeats had written the poem to see if it was believable. (1) He even references Poseidon, god of the sea, in his Roman name of Neptune. Invoking historical gods of the Greeks is a common theme in classical poetry, and this reference's unnecessary inclusion is meant to give the poet the credibility of a well-read author. This way, if Gore’s poem is negatively critiqued, Gore and his supporters can just say that the naysayer is too unsophisticated and uneducated to understand the value of it.

So Gore will know well how to spin any criticism. After all, he is highly experienced in admonishing cynics as ignorant primitives; it has been his one and only response to those who challenge his ideas on anthropogenic global warming.

William Sullivan


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