People! Who have in turn bequeathed so much: the printed word and antibiotics and no-stick cookware and artificial crab and free online porn.
Yeah, it's a wonderful world. But just speaking for ourselves personally, we're about this close to letting it burn to a crisp.
Not that we're indifferent to the future of our children; we're actually quite fond of them and very generous at the holidays. But if surviving as a planet involves putting up with another generation of nagging from Laurie David and Ed Begley Jr., well, really, how much ozone do we need?
Enter then the "We Can Solve It" campaign from Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection. We were more than prepared for our flesh to crawl, and braced ourselves for The Tone.
You know what we mean: that awful synthesis of preachiness, self-righteousness and condescension that spawns the epithet "tree hugger" and makes you do a mental carbon-footprint audit of the tedious hypocrite who is lecturing you. Remember back in 2000, when Al Gore went on and on about a Social Security "lockbox," like a kindergarten teacher explaining why not to eat the paste? That tone.
Well, much to our surprise, the TV and online campaign somehow manages to avoid it. Incredibly, the first three spots are 99% sanctimony-free. On the other hand, they make other errors, pretty incredible in their own right. But let's begin with the brief.
The Alliance has a simple, laudable mission: to coalesce bipartisan support with which to bludgeon foot-dragging politicians and "The sky isn't falling" reactionaries. In other words, to kick ass and take names, although not necessarily in that order.
It's a noble cause and probably a sound political strategy aimed at a self-sustaining cycle of community building and fundraising. One spot compares global warming to the extraordinary challenges of the past century, with images of D-Day and civil-rights demonstrations and the space program, all overlaid with the typed message "We didn't wait."
Voice-over: "We didn't wait for someone else to storm the beaches of Normandy. We didn't wait for someone else to guarantee civil rights or put a man on the moon. And we can't wait for someone else to solve the global climate crisis. We need to act. And we need to act now."
Yes, an unassailable strategy: to remind Americans that our society has pulled together more than once to surmount huge obstacles. But why in the (fragile) world would the advocates, who already face an entrenched political opposition of global warming deniers, be so glib and careless about the facts?
We did wait to invade Europe; we waited five years. We did wait to commence the space program; we waited for the Russians to start first. We did wait to confront racial injustice; we waited 180 years. What is the point of making heroic comparisons if the comparisons don't scan?
Elsewhere, the campaign smartly frames the climate crisis as a bipartisan issue, so in one spot Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shares a love seat with Republican revolutionary Newt Gingrich, agreeing for once not to disagree. It's a little stiff and a lot contrived but still to-the-point, and well enough should have been left alone. No such luck. A second spot features Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton -- polar opposites, yes, but also demagogic scoundrels both. What a bizarre choice.
With friends of the earth like that, who needs enemies?