Monday, December 10, 2007
Al Gore on friendly turf in Oslo
Al Gore may be the object of derision at home, but he sure is on friendly turf here in Oslo. This is a left-leaning socialist country with a cradle to grave social safety net that provides, among other things, a year of maternity and paternity(!) leave for new parents.
Like most Europeans, people here need not be convinced global warming is a problem. The vast majority of them understand the science -– and concur with Al Gore's assessment of it. So you won't find any protestors here decrying the peace prize or this year's recipient.
And remember this: The Arctic Circle bisects this country -– locations at this latitude are among the first to feel the effects of climate change. The Sami (formerly known as the Laplanders) of northern Norway are just like the Inuit of Alaska and Nunavut –- they are subsistence hunters who rely on a sheet of ice in order to survive. But the ice is disappearing, of course.
As for Oslo, it remains relatively temperate because it is in the path of the warm Gulf Stream current. Should climate change stop that current (and there is a long range prediction that warns of that) Oslo would quickly enter an ice age -– Global Warming could lead to a big chill here.
For now, however, the city is much warmer than it used to be this time of year. Temperatures at night are hovering about 4 degrees above freezing. While I am still wearing my long johns, most people here remember these dark days of December being much colder.
Today, as Al Gore toured Oslo, he ran into the 3-year-old son of the leader of Greenpeace here in Norway. He gave Gore a single white flower called a wood anemone that was picked growing wild here this winter, even though it usually blossoms in the spring. The young boy’s dad sees it as a symbol.
But here is the paradox – that leads to hypocrisy. Norway is sitting on an 8 billion barrel reserve of oil beneath the North Sea. Oil and gas are the leading economic engine (if you will) here -– the country exports 3 million barrels a day. And while they are also big users of hydroelectric power here, there are some who suggest the country could do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Gore met with Norway’s Foreign and Environment Ministers today to discuss some ways the country could do more. Gore said he is pleased with the "initiatives that the government may be considering" But he would not offer any more details. Must have been an awkward moment behind closed doors.
-- From CNN Anchor/Producer Miles O'Brien
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