Thursday, May 25, 2006

Inconvenient but True ((MetaLab, SunSITE) director (and UNC Office of the Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Service) Paul Jones sent me an email stating he couldn't go to Wired Magazine's Town Hall with Al Gore on May 25 in New York City's Town Hall. He was busy in Ames, Iowa for the World Finals of the Odyssey of the Mind. So, together with Ubercool Michael Tchong and NY president Christine Cronin I went to Town Hall and took my seat in the full auditorium. As Wired Mag's Chris Anderson was discussing the "rise of the neo-greens," I noticed Personal Democracy founder & publisher Andrew Rasiej stroll in to take his seat. Chris went on to mention that this night was an opportunity to look for solutions in response to why we were there. After a bit more glorification about the speakers, Chris introduced Mr. Gore who took the stage after a dramatic pause and to a rounding applause.

Al told us about how he geeked out with SGI programmers early in the 90s at a Super Computer hearing in DC. He went into discussing the beginning of the internet birth and how no one but him recognized how important the network was in 1991, 1992. The scientists were recognizing global warming and he painted the picture of these smart men, huddled around a computer and seeing the effects of human development.

Like the smooth talkin' professional politican (and all-around-seasoned speaker) that he is, Al then mentioned thanks to his devoted wife Tipper and Chelsea Clinton, both of whom were in the audience. To help get momentum for the movie going, Al mentioned Laurie David, who hosted parties at the Ethical Culture Society in NY and LA.

"We're operating like a business in liquidation," stated Al, getting back to discussing the problem at hand. "Population has quadrupled, there is more CO2, the ocean is getting more acidic...Our country is in Category 5 denial...We're in desperate denial, now despair," he emphasized.

He listed five points to bring the point home, those points being:
  • it's real
  • we're primarily responsible
  • it's good & bad, tending toward catastrophe
  • we need to fix it

He ended with a positive...
  • we have time

Bringing up one of my great interests, China, Al mentioned that the Chinese character for "danger" is also the character for "opportunity." His next comment was that we "need to change the pattern of borrowing from China to buy oil in Saudi Arabia to destroy the earth." And that we need to develop a shared moral mutual common purpose.

Then there was the shared mutual common purpose of eating, as it was past dinnertime for me and my compatriots, so we snuck out to forage for food.

Thankfully, our concrete jungle has many nuts (yeah, yeah, i know) and berries, and plenty of meat around too. Speaking of meat, it was Fleet Week in Manhattan too! The sea of white-uniformed men (and women) who risk their lives so we could indulge in our meager desires, was not met without thanks, as Michael and Christine will confirm my shouts of "thanks for your service!" baffled them.

We decided upon The District in the Muse Hotel for some savory mini-burgers and salads. Michael told us about's new blogging service among many other ubercool trends he's spotting here and abroad. And Christine was full of that tired-enthusiasm of one who's running a successful non-profit. Helping others in need, helping others indeed and helping ourselves as Al goes on, trying to save the world! That's the truth, for sure. Go see THE INCONVIENT TRUTH!