and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
July #2

Saving Mother Earth without Al Gore
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, July 13, 2006

"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, exactly?"

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 living.

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 solutions.

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 all.

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 ended.

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.