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Al Gore Didn’t Want You to Panic

Notes from Underground #1: Al Gore Didn’t Want You to Panic

First in a new series of articles over at Bella Caledonia.

‘I’m optimistic about the future because of youth around the world like Greta Thunberg,’ tweets Christine Lagarde from Davos.

‘I don’t want your hope,’ says Greta in a speech the next day. ‘I want you to panic.’

After that, the German tabloids hail her as the ‘Eco Pippi’, but if we need a children’s literature reference, then surely it’s that Greta is channelling Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games.


If there was one figure who embodied the public focus on climate last time around, then it was Al Gore. He strode onto the stage with his after-dinner patter – ‘I used to be the next president of the United States’ – to talk the audience through the high-end PowerPoint presentation that was An Inconvenient Truth. The effect of all the well-crafted rhetoric was to walk you up to a safe viewing point, about a quarter of a mile from the abyss, to gesture in its general direction, and then to walk you back and leave you with a list of things we can do to make the horror go away, starting with changing our lightbulbs. Al Gore didn’t want you to panic.


As word began to spread last autumn, in the weeks before Extinction Rebellion kicked off, I saw a run of articles from professional campaigners and climate communications experts, explaining to Gail and Roger and their co‑conspirators how they were doing it wrong. I found myself wondering why we even have climate communications experts. Surely if there was anyone around who actually knew how to communicate successfully about climate change, we wouldn’t be as deep in this mess as we are?
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