tsws logo.2

Al Gore invented the Internet.   In fact, as the chairman of a key science subcommittee in 1986, Gore did foster the creation of five supercomputer centers through the National Science Foundation that became the cornerstone of the Internet.”  Most media outlets downplayed or omitted Gore’s role as a Senator in supporting national networking initiatives, instead concentrating on his apparent gaffe in an interview.

The former Vice President said in his interview with Wolf Blitzer, 1999, in response to a question about his vision for the upcoming presidential election: “But it (his vision) will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I’ve traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”

Clearly his overall message is that he worked hard on a number of issues, and took a leadership position relative to others – presumably including his rival Bill Bradley. The overall thrust is that Gore paints himself as a forward-looking legislator and political leader. His “creation” part of this purported sophistry as a US Senator, is set straight by two of the prominent computer scientists who in fact did help create the internet:

By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf

“Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development. No one person or even small group of persons exclusively “invented” the Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among people in government and the university community. But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore’s contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time. Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: “During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” We don’t think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he “invented” the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore’s initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective. As far back as the 1970s Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system….”

The rush to judgment by media in hopes of larger TV share is analogous to the rush to judge that Water has always had contaminants in it, so why worry now?

As famously portrayed by Julia Roberts and Gina Gallego in Erin Brokovich, two glasses of water on the table, one with, one without Chromium VI look identical. Which one has Chromium? The truth lies in pre and post testing the water to your tap to confirm the presence or absence of “toxic trash” – the epithet for DBPs (Disinfection ByProducts) in water – that are in your cold water line off the street.  Like Creating the Internet, the truth of public health issues can easily be drowned out by the noise of a rush-to-judgment press that suppresses the facts of science-based research for political and expeditious reasons.

What else did the former Vice President give us?  Well he also gave us “An Inconvenient Truth”.  Bubbles in the ice cores going back nearly one million years simply do not lie.  The CO2 is measured with precision. The ice core, like tree rings, in the glacial progression of life on Earth during epochs of drought and ice ages every 25,000 years, tells the tale. There has never been, since the Pliocene Era some 5 – 15 million years ago, an excess of 400 part per million (ppm) of Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.  Fresh water now is melting off of the Greenland ice sheet at accelerating rates and African women walk an estimated four miles per day to retrieve and return 40 pounds or about five gallons of dirty water so they can survive. That distance has been growing longer for mountain communities as glacial melt has been receding and the journey to glacial water grows longer each year.

These are the inconvenient truths.  Is it important to get our messages straight? Is it important to face squarely the facts and remind us that there is one set of facts, while the rest is media hype and political messaging? We are all in this together.  Al Gore did not claim to “invent” the Internet any more than I designed the Space Shuttle. And he did not claim that he did. 

We should not claim that what we cannot see will not hurt us. It is up to us as adults to protect the children as well as ourselves. Nearly 2/7ths of the planet or about 2 billion of the 7.3 billion on Earth are children.  They are helpless.  They count on us.