To me the only thing more frightening than Al Gore's book "Earth in the Balance" is that he reportedly believes the stuff in it. There's another thing about it, though, that bothers me even more.
I confess that when I bought the book I expected sensationalism and doomsday alarmism, but I did not anticipate the sweeping scope of the book and what it apparently reveals about Gore.
The most noteworthy thing about it is Gore's breathtaking presumptuousness and audacity. He essentially holds himself out as a Renaissance man. He is a sociologist, a psychologist, a child psychologist, an historian, a philosopher, a theologian, a meteorologist, a climatologist, a molecular biologist, a marine biologist, a chemist, an agronomist, a physicist, an economist, a conservationist, an anthropologist, a zoologist, a nutritionist, an ecologist, an engineer, a scuba diver and a politician -- I'll give him that one. The only thing he takes more seriously than the "environmental crisis" is himself.
(As an aside, I now understand why he had trouble identifying the bust of Thomas Jefferson. He has a Jefferson impairment. In the book, historian Gore incorrectly describes Thomas Jefferson as a framer of the Constitution in Philadelphia. Jefferson was in Paris throughout the convention.)
Being a man of many disciplines, Gore feels free to intermix the various ones in his analysis of mankind's hopeless condition. For example, wearing his child psychologist hat, he observes that the children of dysfunctional families blame themselves as the cause of the family's dysfunction. Donning his ecological headgear, he concludes that our environmental crisis is so severe that our civilization itself is dysfunctional. Completing the analogy, he applies the model of the dysfunctional family to mankind's relationship to the environment.
Largely because of the scientific revolution, says Gore, man has become separated from nature. That separation has caused much pain because "Just as the children in a dysfunctional family experience pain when their parent leads them to believe that something important is missing from their psyches, we surely experience a painful loss when we are led to believe that the connection to the natural world that is part of our birthright as a species is something unnatural. ..."
To avoid feeling this pain, we developed an addiction "to the consumption of the earth itself. This addictive relationship distracts us from the pain of what we have lost: a direct experience of our connection to the vividness, vibrancy and aliveness of the rest of the natural world." Is this scary, or do you suppose that I have the jitters just because Halloween is approaching?
Gore's book is simply too rich for a little 700-word column -- the psychobabble too extensive to treat thoroughly. So, let me leave you with just a few closing thoughts.
We all know that Gore stands by every word of his book. We also know that he has proposed far-reaching new governmental largesse that would threaten to bankrupt even this robust economy and its astronomical projected surpluses. As horrifying as his campaign spending proposals are to conservatives, they pale in comparison to his blueprint for government expansion (his Global Marshall Plan) set out in the book.
Don't you think it is reasonable to believe that if this hapless nation elects him he will do a bait and switch like none we've ever witnessed in the history of this planet? If he truly believes that our civilization is facing a crisis that can be remedied only by the draconian solutions prescribed in his book, then it's safe to assume he will do everything within his power to implement those strategies.
In the process, he would inflate the size of the federal government immeasurably while reducing its sovereignty in relation to foreign nations. He would declare war on corporations and technology. He would enact a program that would use schoolteachers and their students to monitor the entire earth daily.
The book reveals that Gore is a man in search of a crisis, a catastrophe, the apocalypse. He is a man obsessed with a cult-like zealotry, centered on a near pantheistic worship of nature.
When you couple Gore's desperate efforts to find inner-meaning during the campaign (the incessant lies where he makes himself the hero of every story) with his incredible self-elevation in this bizarre book, you must genuinely wonder whether Al Gore himself is in balance.