Al Gore and the Pink Elephant

“A genuine man goes to the roots. To be a radical is no more than that: to go to the roots.”

 - Jose Marti


At the root of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, there’s a gaping hole where half of the solution has gone missing and isn’t being talked about. In that hole, a very conspicuous pink elephant is flapping her ears.


This problem, that  51% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from our demand for meat, dairy and eggs and the fact that  Al Gore, our self-appointed climate leader, does not include anything about animal agriculture in his slide deck, led to the formation of our group, Operation Missing Link, in 2011.


This week, at the Hyatt Regency near San Francisco International Airport, Gore is training 900 or so people in presenting the dangers and solutions to climate change. We decided to make his missing link aware to the attendees.


We made signs and brochures. We showed up. There was no hoop-jumping. No bureaucracy. No hierarchy. No bullsh*t. We agreed on a need, a cause, an imperative.


We were prevented from getting too close to the registration process by little barricades (which turned out to be useful props for our signs!), and trainees had received a handout forbidding them to talk to protesters.


But maybe it was our cheerful, joyous energy, or maybe our attractive, somewhat mysterious messages (e.g. “We can EAT our way out of climate change”) that made trainees actually walk over to talk with us.


We talked with almost 150 people.


We spoke to people from Sweden, Oregon, Indonesia, Washington, Canada, and many other places. People like you and me who will receive training to be better climate communicators. We made an attempt to infuse 51% of the solution back into the picture, addressing one root cause of the climate problem: our high-meat diets.


We have an opportunity to reverse 60 billion terrifying deaths animals face every year, 10 billion of them here in the U.S. We have an opportunity to reverse the destruction of our planet. An opportunity to live more efficiently, intelligently, and compassionately. An opportunity for change that presents itself to us at least 3 times a day, every day.


Many were sympathetic to our position, and shared their own stories of struggle with the status quo, and their personal journeys of change.  We met some vegans and vegetarians, with their little green dots on their name badges :-) 


Some of the trainees volunteered to bring up the issue of animal agriculture with Gore during the training; others want to come outside and tell us tomorrow about how it went! That’s the beauty of planting seeds…they grow.


Today we took a small step toward solving a problem that threatens our very life-support system. The air, water, food, and climate are all connected in a delicate and beautiful balance that we, through our daily actions, have distressed.


For me, this lesson remains: every step in the right direction, no matter how small, counts. If you care about something, show up, co-create, participate, and lead. I took some time away from my “day job” to engage with many intelligent and concerned people today, and received so much inspiration from them. For the children who will inherit the future we are now shaping, I feel a little more hope.


And, I feel alive from connecting with these people…I am grateful that face to face interactions bring out that spark, that spirit of solidarity, that boost of energy. We are connected, and we care about each other. Showing that is not extreme, it’s a norm that we have strayed from. It’s time to return to our earth. She needs us.  


As for Al Gore and the pink elephant - it’s time to go to the roots, fill up that hole, and let real solutions sprout.



Special and heartfelt thanks to Kamal, Sailesh, Priya, Eileen, Sayed, Mike, Ronnie, and Andrea for their amazing energy and participation today. And for sharing the vision. Thanks also to our kindred spirits, supporting us from afar: Diane, Josh, and Barb. 


Our event was sponsored by:


Useful resources:

 51% of GHGs come from animal agriculture

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

Meat The Truth (An Unconvenient Truth-like documentary linking animal ag. and climate change)

Grass-fed cattle have a higher carbon footprint

Climate change will become irreversible by 2017

25ppm reduction in atmospheric CO2 on low-meat diet

A balanced, plant-based diet can provide all the nutrients to help you thrive.

Get started with a plant-based diet

Livestock is the No. 1 cause of the destruction of rainforests.

Sailesh Rao

Dr. Sailesh Rao is an Electrical Engineer, systems specialist, Climate Healer, author of "Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies" and "Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis", and Executive Producer of "The Human Experiment", "Cowspiracy," "What The Health” and “A Prayer for Compassion.