The sound of the earth collapsing

class=img_thumbleft>Al Gore reminds us that it's more than our brains we're frying

If only Al Gore's stump speeches during the 2000 presedintial race were as impassioned as the one he gave on global warming at the River Centre in downtown St. Paul last night, there's no doubt he would've easily won and we would've never heard of hanging chads--even if G.W and good ol' Jeb had a magic voting machine in Fla. that suddenly spat out a million new registered neo-con residents. In front of an invite-only audience of about 500, Gore was funny (quoting Dire Straits and Mark Twain), self-deprecating, and sweaty-pissed enough about the Bush administration's handling of the environment that guttural yells were coming from a man once known for being stiff as metal and about as lifelike.

In the last five years the current propaganda machine of big oil has succeeded in turning a huge chunk of the country lukewarm about environmental issues ("lukewarm" is the key term here, since so many people need to be close to being boiled to death to be spurred into action): Philip Cooney, the one-time oil-lobbyist lawyer who became chief of staff of the Council of Environmental Quality under the Bush administration, was editing climate reports and removing key findings since 2001. He resigned last month amid the controversy, though he claims his departure was unrelated. Cooney's starting a new job at Exxon Mobil in the fall.

But the 90-minute presentation on climate change wasn't about rehashing the numerous obscene failures of the Bush team. Gore's speech was a call to action, a plea to the masses to quit buying the big oil PR campaign the way we swallowed the tobacco industry's lies about addiction and disease 40 years ago. If these numbers he presented during the multi-media presentation don't make you want to gnaw off your own arm to help the cause, it could be because your arm's made of metal:

Days it took for the Larsen ice shelf to disintegrate (pictured left): 35

Amount of ice released when the shelf broke: 720 billion tons

Amount of Arctic ice cap that has melted in last 40 years: 40 percent

Rise in sea level that would cause worldwide damage: 1 meter

Number of days a year vehicles could travel on tundra in Alaska in 1980: 225

Number of days today: fewer than 100

Average tundra temp 45 years ago: -4

Average tundra temp today: -1

Percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions from U.S.: 30 percent

Number of climate-change articles appearing in scientific journals in last 10 years: 928

Number of articles that disagree with consensus that CO2 is causing global warming: 0

World population in 1776: 1 billion

World population today: 6.4 billion

World population by 2050: 9.1 billion

Last year saw an all-time record for tornadoes and typhoons. This year marks the first time since record keeping began in 1851 that four named hurricanes have appeared this early in the season. (Global warming increases hurricane strength).

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