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An Incovenient Man?

The planets, or at least the voices of public opinion, have aligned for Al Gore’s visit to Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall. On April 23, the former American vice president presents his seminar on global warming, the basis for the Academy Award nominated film An Inconvenient Truth and bestselling book of the same name. Gore’s film, book and presentation all argue, through impressive visuals, personal anecdotes and accessible science, that global warming is a planetary emergency and the culprits are the carbon-based fuels that heat homes, and run cars and jet planes.

Gore is still perhaps best known for losing the 2000 U.S. presidential election in a controversial vote that saw him take a majority of the electorate, but fail to win the electoral college despite a recount and Supreme Court challenge. Since then, however, Gore has turned his full attention to one of his other passions: the environment. Through tours, movies and books, he’s been using his knowledge, charisma and influence to stop global warming. His visit to Calgary is timely; the event comes as Canadians are awash in headline-grabbing opinion polls on global warming and controversy over oil sands development in northern Alberta. Worldwide, global warming is also commanding more attention since the release, in late January, of a summary report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.It states with new certainty that global warming is occurring, and that there is a more than 90 per cent certainty that human activity is fuelling it.

Global warming clearly is no longer an issue-of-the-month and the skeptics are running low on ammunition. But will Gore’s message and call to action go over well in Canada’s oil country? In a July 2006 issue of Rolling Stone, Gore condemned the activities of companies in the oil sands, stating:

“For every barrel of oil they extract there, they have to use enough natural gas to heat a family’s home for four days. And they have to tear up four tons of landscape, all for one barrel of oil. It is truly nuts.” Gore’s criticism didn’t go unnoticed. Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein fired back with characteristic bluster, asking if Gore wanted the world to run on hot air. While the tussle wasn’t groundbreaking for either man, it did seem to symbolize a conflict between Gore and the residents of a province whose economy is intimately bound to the development of oil and gas.

Gore, however, isn’t coming to Alberta uninvited. The seminar is organized by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, which states that it wants to encourage dialogue and help dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding global warming. The event has received tremendous attention; Calgarians, apparently, aren’t satisfied with getting to know Gore in his movie, book or online, and want to see the man in person. In finding a passionate cause, Gore has certainly become a more charismatic and compelling figure, losing the awkwardness that was oft lampooned during his campaign days, while telling the story of global warming with an urgency and conviction that is making believers of many.GORE KNOWLEDGE

Al Gore is in town for one night only: April 23 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, courtesy of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend, here are other ways to learn more about this one-time U.S. presidential candidate’s crusade to stop global warming.
Get the DVD: An Inconvenient Truth. This 2006 documentary features Gore taking viewers through the science, politics and people of global warming. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has become the third-highest grossing documentary in the United States.
Get the Book: An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. A detailed literary look at global warming, filled with personal anecdotes and easy-to-understand science. The book was released in 2006 and reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Go Online: www.climatecrisis.net An Inconvenient Truth’s official website, with scientific information, news, a personal impact calculator and tips to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. Visit page 27 for listings of local bookstores and DVD outlets. —Sally MacKinnon

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