NASHVILLE — The stocky man with the soft Southern accent rivets the hotel ballroom crowd with his plea: “We are in a time of peril, so please allow me to explain a topic that has overwhelming importance in my life.”
Meet, no, not Al Gore, but Gary Dunham, 71, a grandfather from Texas who was the first of 1,000 Americans Gore trained to deliver his Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth slide show to schools, Rotary clubs and nursing homes around the nation.
Two weeks ago, the last 150 of this hand-picked crew arrived here — paying their own way for everything but food — to go through a two-day seminar starring Gore but effectively led by Dunham and a few other graduates of the former vice president’s global-warming boot camp.
To date, The Climate Project has drawn everyone from Wal-Mart workers to Cameron Diaz. And though the 1,000 mark has been reached, “we keep hearing whispers that (Gore) might do more,” project director Jenny Clad says. “I wouldn’t call this final.”
Two inarguable truths leap out from the 48 hours.
One, Gore’s status officially has changed from defeated presidential candidate to quasi-rock star.
At a group night out at B.B. King’s, a nightclub off Music Row, Gore and his wife, Tipper, are barely left alone with their brisket and collard greens, served in such modest portions that the faithful chatter about a diet and thus a presidential run.
When Gore does invite the crowd over to say hello, he’s besieged. Later, when he’s giving the trainees their final pep talk, the normally noisy ballroom is so quiet you can hear the hum of the air conditioner. If An Inconvenient Truth portrayed Gore as a lonely eco-warrior, he now has a willing army.
I think maybe I scrapped my answer to “an inconvenient truth” too soon, as no one has directly answered the blatant lies told in that film answering each lie with the truth.
Part of his scheme is beginning to fall apart, the Carbon Offset Program has been exposed:
The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a “green gold rush”, which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go “carbon neutral”, offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming.
The burgeoning regulated market for carbon credits is expected to more than double in size to about $68.2bn by 2010, with the unregulated voluntary sector rising to $4bn in the same period.
The FT investigation found:
■ Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.
■ Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.
■ Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.
■ A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.
■ Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.