I have PowerPoint envy.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to see Al Gore’s presentation on climate change. A remarkably thorough-going look at the consquences, Gore somehow managed to be simultaneously panic-inducing and inspiring. Not only was his slideshow easily the best slideshow I’ve ever seen on this, or any other, subject, but Gore himself was a study in mastery—at once funny and earnest, erudite and thundering. (Where was this guy during the 2000 campaign?) If you ever have a chance to see him speak on global warming, drop what you’re doing and run, don’t walk.

Trying to recap his talk in a blog post would be an exercise in futility. You know the drill by now anyway: collapsing ice sheets, shrinking glaciers, spreading diseases, hurricanes, and floods. The punishment that climate change promises to inflict is downright biblical in scale—a punishment that will fall especially hard on the poorest and weakest on earth. And so it was good to hear Gore’s booming declaration that arresting climate change is not a political issue, but a basic moral one.

Gore was here in Seattle, you may know, because of mayor Greg Nickels’ pledge to bring Seattle into compliance with Kyoto—a pledge that 218 other cities have joined. Today marked the release of the city’s Green Ribbon Commission report that details how Seattle will get there. Media coverage here and here.

I’ll wrap up with a quote that Gore included as a spur to decisionmakers today. This is Winston Churchill as the gathering forces of facism were darkening Europe:

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.”

Update 3/24/06, 2pm: An alert reader informs me that Lawrence, Kansas joined Seattle’s Kyoto pledge today, bringing the total number of cities to 219. (Incidentally, nearly 44 million Americans live in cities that have pledged to meet Kyoto’s standards.)