In the United States Senate, Al Gore has a record of environmental leadership. Yet when this young, ambitious senator from Tennessee made his run for president in 1988, he tried to be all things to all people, appearing vacillating and immature to most.
A year later his 6-year-old son was struck by a car and hung on the edge of death for a month. The senator and his wife camped anxiously at the hospital, then spent more months nursing Albert back to health.
Gore credits this time with changing his own life. He was drawn more deeply to his family, and to life itself. He realized that, since "a rapidly deteriorating global environment...threatens absolute disaster," his political behavior had been inadequate to the crisis of this age. Gore concluded not only that "the very foundations of our civilization" must be changed, but also that he needed to begin this reform within himself. He remembered a phrase from Mahatma Gandhi: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."
The first fruit of this personal crisis appears as Earth in the Balance, a book remarkable for its ecological discernment, religious insight, and political courage.
GORE HAS VISITED AREAS of environmental crisis, from Uzbekistan's Aral Sea, now desert-dry, to America's toxic waste dumps, to the threatened polar ice caps. Quite obviously, he has listened attentively to experts in many fields.