I’m blogging from Nashville, where I just spent two days hanging with Al Gore and shooting the sh-t about climate change. OK, it wasn’t just me and Al — there were about 200 other people there.
This meeting is part of Al Gore’s effort to train 1000 people to go out and deliver his Inconvenient Truth talk.
The meeting started off on a low note when I found out that Cameron Diaz had been in the session before mine. Damn. My session was actually devoid of anyone well known. The closest we got was Dennis Kucinich‘s wife, who it turns out is actually quite a babe.
The first day was spent listening to Al go over his 250-slide talk slide-by-slide. It was more interesting than it sounds, but not by much. Most of the other participants were blown away by it, but since I already know most of the science, it made me very sleepy.
The second day was presentation techniques. I found that particularly useful, because most of my experience presenting is to audiences of other scientists. I realized here that I really need to organize my talks differently when I talk to the general public. And there needs to be more of an emphasis on connecting with audiences at an emotional level. That’s something I don’t worry about in my technical seminars.
A bunch of other people have blogged and commented about earlier training sessions (see here and here). I’ll quickly agree with much of what they said:
- It was an impressive group of people. I suppose this type of thing attracts overachievers, so it makes sense that just about everyone I met had some interesting life story or experiences to relate.
- Gore’s knowledge of the climate is quite impressive. In an answer to a question about the ice ages, for example, Gore correctly described the three ways the earth’s orbit varies (eccentricity, obliquity, and procession) as well as the time scales on which the variations occur.
- I really respect his efforts to make people aware of global warming. When the final history of this subject is written, I hope he’ll get the credit he deserves.
On the other hand, Gore pushes the science a little too hard for my taste. He says it is certain that hurricanes are stronger today than in the past and that the NAS hockey stick report supported the conclusion that today’s temperatures are higher than 1,000 years ago. I would not be comfortable saying either of those things. That’s all I’ll say about this since we’ve already argued about it.
Finally, I think there’s no way he’ll run for president. (R.P.Jr.: any interest in adding me to the bet? You can take me and Lisa to lunch.) First, running for president would force him to moderate his views on climate change, which I don’t think he’d be willing to do. Second, from talking to his staff, I think he’s still smarting from the 2000 election. He doesn’t want to go through that again.
Finally, I just don’t think he’s positioned for a strong presidential run. Don’t get me wrong: I admire the hell out of what he’s doing and think he has accomplished much more good since 2001 than our current president … but climate change is his thing, and it’s just not a big enough issue to base a campaign on.
I’m off to D.C. tomorrow for a Pew/AGU/AMS/AAAS briefing for new members of Congress on how science can contribute to policy. Look for a blog entry on that soon.