Al Gore: The 21st century Mahatma?

Al Gore has donned several roles in his life: journalist, army-man, businessman, author and Vice President of the USA. Presidency could have easily been added to his exemplary CV, if there had been no controversial result in Florida during the 2000 elections and the following recount. But America’s loss has been the world’s gain (except for probably Iraq, who could argue that they won’t be in the mess they are in had Bush lost to Gore back then).

Gore brought the limelight on climate change even before his first stint as Vice President, when he held the first congressional hearings and several subsequent ones on the topic in the 80s. But it wasn’t until 1989 that the crisis became the focal point of Gore’s political life. After a baseball game on April 2 that year, Gore, his wife Tipper, and son Albert were crossing a street when a car rammed into Albert, throwing him some 50 feet away. Gore stayed by his son’s hospital bed for the next few months, where he says he underwent a personal rebirth. During this time, he wrote the book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. The book earned a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, making Gore the first sitting Senator to come on the list since John F. Kennedy.

Gore served as Vice President between 1992 and 2000, a time where he put in place several initiatives that led to the internet boom and strengthening of the economy. The environment wasn’t off his agenda, and he tried hard to push through the Kyoto Protocol, but the Senate unanimously voted against it.

Free from the world of politics, Gore began what many describe as a crusade on the climate crisis some time after the controversial elections of 2000. In 2004, he co-launched Generational Investment Management, a fund management firm that plans to create environment-friendly portfolios. Generation Investment will manage assets of institutional investors, such as pension funds, foundations and endowments, as well as those of ‘high net worth individuals,’ from offices in London and Washington, D.C. He then starred in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which won an Academy Award.

Many similarities can be seen between Mahatma Gandhi and Al Gore. While Gandhi’s crusade was getting India its independence, Gore’s crusade can be considered to be for making the world independent of non-renewable, ecologically harmful energy resources. Wherever Gandhi went, he was greeted with the chanting of his name. As for Al Gore, the director of An Inconvenient Truth said that wherever they went to publicize the documentary, Gore was treated like a “rockstar” by the throngs of people. Both had considerable impact on the global political level. While many demonstrations followed Gandhi’s Satyagraha doctrine, Gore’s movie was so well received that in the UK, Leader of the Opposition David Cameron urged people to see the film to understand Global Warming. In Australia, Gore was publicizing the documentary when the then Prime Minister said he would not meet Gore or ratify Kyoto “because of a film.” Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley was present at a special screening of it at the Parliament House, and when elected to power, ratified Kyoto during his first week in office (which leaves the USA as the only industrialized nation not to have ratified the protocol). Both set personal examples for their beliefs. Gandhi never practiced violence, whereas Gore had his house renovated which makes it completely environment friendly. All the energy provided to his ranch comes from green power.

Gandhi left us a legacy, and Gore has already created one. Both have done more for mankind than most, and if Gandhi deserves the title of Mahatma, so does Gore. There would, however, be one thing that differentiates their separate achievements in the future: the Nobel Peace Prize.

Raveesh Bhalla

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