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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

October 9, 2009 - 4:05pm

I thought I awoke this morning to the announcement that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Then, I thought that I was still asleep. Now I hope I wasn't, on the theory that no one's dreams -- certainly not mine -- should have that kind of an effect on reality.

And if that first paragraph sounds confused, that's probably appropriate. I'm confused. I thought that before a person won what's arguably the most prestigious honor in secular society, (s)he was supposed to actually accomplish something. I mean, potential is wonderful, but there's nothing more common than unrealized potential. Personally, I can understand the reflex to celebrate any POTUS whose middle initial isn't W. Still, I had thought that the collective heads of the Nobel Committee were calmer than mine. At least, I'd hoped that they were. Now, I'm not so sure.

As the morning progressed, however, it occurred to me that Obama's Nobel might be just what the ecological sustainability movement needs. It might inoculate us against the dreaded mythical Al Gore.

Not the real Al Gore. I have no problem with the real Al Gore. What I have a problem with is people who have a problem with my ostensible relationship with some semi-divine "Al Gore" character that, in truth, I don't recognize. (That first paragraph starting to look almost cogent yet?) You know, the object of sardonic remarks like "What Would Al Gore Do?" and "when you [meaning me] realize that Al Gore doesn't walk on water ..." and (more recently), "Too bad nobody warned Al Gore before he bought that condo in San Francisco."

Now, sustainability is a large portion of my life, but I have never worshipped Al Gore. In fact, most months I don't think about Al Gore even once (provocations aside). But I don't know how to challenge or disown my assumed Al-Gore-acolyte status without seeming to back down in a battle of wits not yet fully joined. I'm hoping Obama's Nobel will help me find a way.

After all, the Gore semi-divinity projection seemed to get a lot worse after he and the IPCC were honored in 2007. Winning half a Nobel seems to have conferred (confirmed?) semi divinity. And if 0.5 Nobel Peace Prizes equals 0.5 times divinity (at least in the minds of my verbal antagonists), what does 1.0 Nobel Peace Prizes equal?

I haven't thought this through fully yet -- what creative powers I hold won't be at their peak until just before wake-up time tomorrow morning -- but I'm hoping the answer includes at least one snappy comeback for the next time someone tries to Gore me.

Still, I fully admit that my creativity may not be up to this deity-level task. (After all, I more often play at the Warlord level.) Please feel free to make suggestions.


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