From the Fairbanks, Alaska Daily News-Miner:
Fairbanks — Al Gore can thank the Nobel Committee for honoring him with the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
He can also thank Fairbanks businessman Craig Compeau for what could be the farthest-north likeness of the former vice president: A 5-ton ice sculpture of a “shivering” Gore, created during a recent spell of bitterly cold weather in Alaska and aimed at confronting global-warming theories.
Compeau described himself as a moderate skeptic of those who “rabidly” believe man-made emissions are contributing to a rise in global temperatures. Gore won his Nobel for raising awareness of global warming as one of the greatest challenges facing mankind.
“Be skeptical. Or not. But research it yourself,” Compeau told the roughly three dozen onlookers and reporters gathered at the corner of Airport Way and Cushman Street at 10 a.m. Monday under gray skies. “There’s a lot on both sides.”
Compeau, who manages an outdoor recreation sporting goods store, is coupling the unveiling with a fundraiser to benefit the Presbyterian Hospitality House, a local nonprofit. Anyone — skeptic or not — can play by guessing whether this winter will be warmer or colder, and by how much, than was the winter of 1947-1948. Gore was born on March 31, 1948.
Compeau unveiled the sculpture — created by a local artist Steve Dean — near the downtown Thrifty Liquor store, where he said it will stay through March or “until it melts.”
The 8 1/2-foot-tall sculpture dominated the corner from its perch on the back of a flatbed truck.
Compeau said he hatched the idea for the carving when talking to another businessman two weeks ago, when much of Alaska was suffering from one of the coldest snaps in recent memory. By the time Dean was done with the carving, however, the temperature had warmed to record-breaking highs in the upper 40s. Thermometers had settled in-between by Monday morning, reading around 20 degrees.
Climate change scientists say Alaska has warmed by 3 degrees Fahrenheit during the past 50 years. Many say the planet will keep warming, at least partly because of man-made emissions.
Compeau used Monday’s unveiling to publicly invite the Nobel-winner to visit Interior Alaska — specifically, Tetlin Junction, where reports indicated temperatures earlier this month bottomed out at close to 80 degrees below zero — and explain, first-hand, global warming theories. He even offered specifics — if Gore travels by electric car and speaks exactly one year after then temperature there hit bottom — on Jan. 8, 2010 — Compeau and others will cover his room and board.
An e-mail message from the Daily News-Miner sent to Gore’s official Web site is unreturned as of Monday evening.
Benefits from the contest will go to the nonprofit Presbyterian Hospitality House, which operates seven residential treatment homes for troubled kids, Compeau said.
Drenda Tigner, the nonprofit’s executive director, said her organization isn’t interested in the organizers’ views on global warming. She said she’s happy that a “fun wintertime event” can benefit Presbyterian Hospitality House both financially and through increased public awareness of its activities.
“A lot of people don’t even know we exist, even though we’ve been here since 1967,” she said.
The Hospitality House is dropping off decorated collection cans at the 10 companies handing out entry forms for the climate-guessing contest. A list of the participating companies can be found on a Web site set up by Compeau (www.frozengore.com).
Suck It, Hippies.