"Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain ... said
to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called by
the Masai, 'Ngaje Ngai,' the House of God. Close to the western summit
there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has
explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude."
Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro
I've been an environmentalist all my life, living in
small homes, driving small cars or taking public transportation,
recycling, never littering, hanging my wash outside or in the basement
to dry. I had only one child, replacing myself. I love Mother Earth and
can understand the New Age reverence for Gaia.
Nevertheless, a Democrat friend had to coax me to attend Al Gore's
movie, and my son had to pay for the ticket.
I liked the title, "An Inconvenient Truth," since I enjoy telling
liberals inconvenient truths on other subjects like the impact of taxes
on working people's lives, and the impact of Big Government on our
freedom. I recognize my prejudice: Because so many self-described
environmentalists are my political adversaries, I don't want to hear
from them about anything, even when I agree.
So when I saw the film trailer with the melting snows of Mt.
Kilimanjaro, my first defensive thought was "well, if it saves just one
leopard from freezing to death.....".
But I went to the movie. Found some of it interesting, liked some of Al
Gore's poetic statements about the earth seen from space. But wish we
hadn't been forced to endure the many close-ups of his face, which one
feared one was about to enter through his pores, as he lectured or
stared thoughtfully into the abyss.
He showed us his childhood home in Tennessee, said it had been affected
by global warming, but never explained how. He used the home, as he used
his injured child and dead sister, to explain his interest in the
environment, and then we were in Florida, watching people counting
presidential ballots with chads. But all I wanted to know was, is the
Antarctic snow soon about to slide into the sea, or not?
I still don't know. I've compared data from the film with Michael
Crichton's footnotes in "State of Fear," read various articles on both
sides of the global warming issue. Have the impression that no one
really knows; but I trust people who admit this more than I trust Al
Gore, who insists that anyone who doesn't believe we're heading for
imminent disaster is a fool.
I also distrust those who laugh off the entire global warming theory,
because they are often the same people who insist that wilderness and
natural resources should be used up in the pursuit of excess. I keep
wanting to ask the Republican Club for Growth, "where are we growing TO,
I find it hard to believe that 6.5 billion human beings aren't having
some destructive impact on Mother Earth. As for America's role, our
conservative heritage includes the sensible admonition to "waste not,
want not." Our heavy consumerism isn't always a matter of comfort or
deep pleasure - it's often based on keeping up with the Joneses, on
showing off, on substituting more and more "things" for authentic
Yet it's American innovation that finds solutions to the problems we
identify. Objectivist Ayn Rand said that environmental concerns are a
scientific, technological problem - not a political one - that can be
solved only by technology, and the freedom and incentive to pursue
Gore lists things we can all do to help save the environment, and I
support many of them, except the one about voting for certain
politicians. Some of them want to use environmental issues as a way to
get higher taxes and have more control over my life. As I get older, I
need my new CRV and clothes dryer, won't give them up for Al Gore. Last
time I saw him he was in a limousine.
My grandtwins' other grandma - who also wants a better world for them -
sent me an e-mail about something we can all do that can't hurt us at
Monday is "fire the grid" day. At 11:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, which
I think is 6:11 a.m. here, we can all "connect to the earth grid and
begin the healing of this planet. We can sit in meditation to
simultaneously unite our souls in love, peace, harmony and collective
cooperation for a better world."
On Aug. 16, 1987, there was a "harmonic convergence" for world peace. I
was seeking my roots in the Holy Roman Empire and had hiked up to the
ruins of an Austrian castle which overlooked a valley ringing with
Sunday morning church bells. Ate my apple and cheese while thinking
harmonic thoughts - not the "peace at any price" kind, but the "Mr.
Gorbachev, take down this wall" kind. Shortly thereafter, the Cold War
I think we may need another one of these soon. But in the meantime, why
not think healing thoughts about Mother Earth? Can't hurt, and it's a
lot safer than giving politicians our proxy to do it for us.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence
Journal and other newspapers.