No, this isn't one of those parachute out of the airplane jokes. The Pope and Al Gore's photos appeared on the front page of many newspapers today because both men spoke yesterday about saving the world from environmental disaster. The Pope is to make climate change one of his key concerns during his trip to Australia for World Youth Day. The pontiff has said that politicians and scientists must respond to what he calls the "great ecological challenge" of global warming. The Sydney Morning Hearld's headline was, Help to save the world, Pope tells Australia.
Here in America, Al Gore gave a fiery speech yesterday that called for a "man on the moon" effort to switch all of the United States' electricity production to wind, solar and other carbon-free sources within 10 years. He said this goal would solve global warming as well as economic and natural security crises caused by dependence on fossil fuels. The AP story carried this headline: Gore urges drive for carbon-free energy.
My mind wandered throughout the Gore speech to quite a few 'what ifs' as he went on. What if he had been elected back in 2000: where would our energy policy be today? Would we be paying $4 for gas? And then the question: would we have been in Iraq fighting a preemptive war in its 6th year? Would we be in a recession had the Supreme Court decided otherwise?
Then there was George Bush, gray hair, wrinkled and tired face, bogged down and nearly a prisoner in the White House, just waiting for January when he can get back to the ranch in Texas. Does he wonder about all of this, too? What will he be thinking about the rest of his life?
The stark difference between the three men could not have been more clear: two with a clear conscience, working for the common good; the other, beset by gross misjudgments all along the way. Fortunately for us and the world, the nightmare will end soon.