Political Will in the Concrete Forest

Concrete Forest

As I descended from I-95 into the concrete forest that now covers the city of Miami, I thought about the artificial shade. Darkness was everywhere even while the sun rested high in the sky.

Al Gore at Miami Book Fair Construction raged on even in the early morning hours of Saturday. As the construction workers labored, the homeless slept. The forest was still, despite the jack hammer vibration penetrating the silence.

I looked upward, I see the pervasive high-rises that the city touts have surpassed 60% occupancy–although that is not obvious from appearance. Too bad that Miami can’t house some of its homeless in these buildings. It would be good public relations for the city, not like the messy shantytown farther up the road.

But that would never happen in the concrete forest. Here, corruption and bad political decisions spread like the invasive melaleuca trees that swallow the Everglades to the west.

It is amidst this concrete forest, I came to the Miami Book Fair to see former VP, Al Gore promote his book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.

And Political Will

Gore’s presentation was articulate, engaging and funny. He discussed the more than thirty summits he’s convened around the world, bringing together the eminent voices of climate change science. The good news, Gore told us, is that we have everything we need right now to solve the climate crisis. In his book he outlines some of the solutions from renewable energy to CCS to soil initiatives.

We have everything we need, except perhaps ‘political will’. Gore closed his presentation with his classic line, “ but political will is a renewable resource”.

As I held that thought in my head, I wanted to ask him about this line he’s been using since before the film, An Inconvenient Truth,  “political will is a renewable resource”. We all lived that. Last November we had a historic election. We voted in unprecedented numbers for change.

We changed our political leadership but climate change still sits on the backburner in the Senate. The US with 5% of the world’s population still produces the majority of the total greenhouse gas emissions. There are some figures that show China- who now holds almost all of our manufacturing jobs- dumped more heat trapping gases into the planet’s atmosphere in 2009. Although looked at on a per capita basis, the USA still holds the award for world’s largest polluter.

We know the historic legislation, H254: American Clean Energy and Security Act, passed by the House this summer doesn’t adequately addresses the severity of this crisis we are facing.

Al Gore at Miami Book FairUsing a twist on an African Proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go fast, go together”; Gore said, “We need to go quickly and together.

Yes, as we approach December’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen the world’s population agrees, but does the US government? And, how do we get there with the democratic leadership we have? That is the question I wanted answered. Surely, Gore must have some opinion.

But, before I got a chance to ask him, his publishers had me pulled out of the book signing line because I was holding a DVD of An Inconvenient Truth. The line was only for people who purchased copies of their book, Our Choice.

Thus, I am left with my unanswered question and a few photo souvenirs.




  • You could write a novel…. you should even.

    Pretty commercial, those book signing events.
    Did AG see you getting pulled out the line-up?

    Hug, Geert

  • Hi Maria,

    Eloquently written. I enjoyed reading about your experience at the Book Fair and your concern for the failure of our leaders to take action with regard to knowable solutions to our climate problems. After all, to agree to attend the Coppenhagen conference still amounts to lip service including scrumptious banquets, beverage indulgences, networking opportunities and other enjoyable travel perks.

    It is disappointing that youor dvd didn’t qualify for an autograph. I’m sure you paid for that and Mr. Gore got his mechanical and writer’s royalty for that too. I wonder what the deal was?

  • No Geert,- he was too busy talking to the person in front of him-although, I was only about 5 people away.

  • It is standard practice that the author will sign other books and works at these events. This one seemed to be more of a scripted event which was disappointing.

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