Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Al Gore drew a circle that brought us all in...
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   10/07/2007)

Let us now praise biased judges, vote suppressors, mudslingers and superficial media for casting Al Gore from the center of power in 2000. They just might've helped save the Earth.

By liberating Gore from his oddly self-limiting role in Washington, D.C., they inadvertently set him on a path to international acclaim and the Nobel Prize.

It's an honor sure to bolster Gore's mission to inform the world about global warming, an honor that brings public awareness several degrees closer to the tipping point.

How galling this must be to the man who was finally (s)elected president in 2000.

I mean, who would you rather be? The president who goes down in history as maybe the worst ever? Or a prophet who sparked a movement that might yet rescue our world from flooding, species decimation, drought, famine, energy depletion and resource wars?

Our battered yet still-beautiful world has long needed a hero--a latter day Paul Revere to warn us, if not an outright prophet to lead us to a brighter future, and behold:

The new Al Gore.

Same as the old Al Gore.

By which I mean the young Al Gore.

This is Al Gore as Phoenix, rising from the ashes of one who flew to the Arctic Circle and elsewhere in the 1980s. One who held hearings about pollution at Love Canal, one who began writing “Earth in the Balance” 20 years ago. Even then evidence of global catastrophe was compelling. Who knows? Had we all been smarter, truer, this world might've given enough of the old college try decades back to lower the intensity of Gaia's hot flash and prevent the drowning of New Orleans by Katrina.

We might yet forestall any number of such disasters.

So let us now praise famous Republican Supreme Court justices who selected George W. Bush president in 2000. Let us praise happy spinners at Fox News who glibly stated that Gore claimed to've invented the Internet. Smooth politicos such as Katherine Harris and Karl Rove who suppressed the Democratic vote in Florida and elsewhere through a raft of dirty tricks. And let's not forget Gore's fellow Tennesseans, who gave Bush their dozen or so electoral votes in 2000, without which the count in Florida would've been irrelevant.

Working together they all obscured the clarion call of Gore's popular majority and cast him from the center of power as the new millennium dawned. It's a new millennium in which, Gore naively predicted, the organizing principle of international relations would be a concerted effort to save us all from global warming. Little did "Chicken Little" know such scorn would fall upon him….

Still, I tip my hat to all who denied Gore his presidency. As I wrote here recently, the Law of Unintended Consequences will not be revoked. And here's an unintended consequence of all the conniving that cost Gore and supporters like me so much pain.

I should warn you that what I'm about to say sounds so corny I almost hate to say it, so I'll stall by quoting something that old-fashioned poet Edwin Markham wrote.

They drew a circle and shut me out,

A heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win,

We drew a circle and took them in.

I'll not try and gauge how much love had to do with Gore's revival, but I will say this. Al Gore drew a circle that took them in. How big a circle? Oh, I'd say he drew a circle about the size of the Whole Earth, large enough to include even an aging brat with Oedipal issues, one who somehow usurped the world's most powerful seat. Now even George W. Bush pays lip service to the science of global warming.

He's been forcibly co-opted by a popular movement born of science and good vibes from others, much as Richard Nixon, of all people, was co-opted into signing the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and creating the Environmental Protection Agency, not, one suspects, from the goodness of his heart, but in answer to aspirations of a people who were more visionary and rational than their own leaders. Bush won't make such a difference--for one thing, there isn't time--but his successor just might.

It's true that a few contrarians still deny global warming, but it's a rapidly shrinking few. Mostly the nay-sayers have moved on to a fall-back position. Sure, the globe's heating up, they say, but it's a cyclical event. Hey, there's progress even in that formulation. Quite a few more, however, have come farther and now say, yeah, but it's only due in part to human activity, part of it's cyclical.

When they say that, they've stepped inside Gore's circle, because that's where he's drawn the line for years. Those of us curious enough to examine the evidence on global warming in the 1970s and 1980s, back when people like Carl Sagan and Gore first started talking about it, have followed the debate long enough to notice this:

Nearly all global warming experts long ago acknowledged that cycles of solar activity impact the environment. Computer models that track and predict global warming have accounted for such variables for many years. But we also know the part of global warming caused by human activity is increasing, and it's that portion that promises to push us into the realm of positive feedback loops, when we'll reach a point of no return unless we're very wise.

Fortunately for us, Al Gore is very wise. He never reached the point of no return.