Former Vice President Al Gore garnered some minor headlines last week during a visit to West Palm Beach to stump for Florida Democrats. But who knew his campaign swing included a little gig on South Beach? On Saturday evening, March 11, as the South Beach citizenry recovered from hangovers, disco-napped, and dreamed of sex, the man who might have been president warned of a "planetary emergency" while speaking to a group of about 150 people who had paid $100 each to gather at a Euclid Avenue address and bear witness. He showed up with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is running for re-election.
The gathering took place at the Temple House (1415 Euclid Ave.), a former South Beach synagogue that a local real estate investor has remodeled into a minimalist, very Zen 16,000-square-foot, two-story Art Deco mansion.
Gore and Nelson stepped into the vast sanctuary space around 7:30 p.m. and mingled. Nelson gave a short speech, noting one reason November's election is important. "I'm the last Southern Democrat left standing," he notified the crowd.
But it was Gore in his fire-and-brimstone, radical-environmentalist manifestation who rocked the temple. First he joked about his 2000 disaster and speculation that Nelson's opponent, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), was about to drop out of the race. (Harris subsequently announced that, contrary to rumors, she was staying in.)
Then Gore began to speak of impending doom. In just his lifetime, the world's population will have swelled from two billion to nine billion, he offered.
The result: "A radical transformation of the relationship between human beings and this planet!" Gore thundered.
So it shouldn't be surprising that we've already created a hole in the "thin shell" of atmosphere that surrounds Earth, he said with much sibilance.
But he was just getting started. Citing the late scientist Carl Sagan, Gore declared, "We have changed the relationship between the Earth and the sun!" Carbon dioxide emissions and global warming have altered ocean activity and weather patterns, he explained, making spring come earlier and winter later, melting the polar ice cap. And now time is running out. "If we do not make dramatic changes within the next ten years, according to the leading scientists, we will cross a point of no return, beyond which the damage is not retrievable."
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Just as we have created a nation based on liberty, sent a man to the moon and back, and broken down apartheid, we can conquer global warming, Gore continued as he neared the end of his twenty minutes. "As we rise, we will gain the ability to make the world new. Mark my word," he spoke. "This future is yours to create."
Then Gore descended rapidly back to Earth. "As the poet once said, after the last öno' comes a öyes.' And on that öyes' the future of the world depends. Let's say öyes' to re-electing Bill Nelson."
Then Gore and Nelson left.
And the people of South Beach woke up, for another night of partying.