They came in their hundreds to hear him speak, and even those left standing outside the crowded hall would not be deterred from lingering in the proximity of the Baptist prophet from Tennessee.
It wasn't any old-time religion that drew these believers to Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto, but a concept they feel is every bit as crucial to humanity -- global warming -- that made them want to get close to Al Gore, the impassioned former U.S. vice-president, as he delivered his now famous Inconvenient Truth about climate change.
Like many a bygone leader who happened along at a key moment in history, Mr. Gore -- who has been sounding the environmental warning bell for years -- has suddenly inspired the kind of faith and fervour in others that he insists will be needed to overcome such a monumental problem.
"From my perspective, it is a form of religion," said Bruce Crofts, 69, as he held a banner aloft for the East Toronto Climate Action Group amid a lively prelecture crowd outside the old hall. [...]
Across the driveway in front of the hall, a large banner exhorted the crowd to "Heed the Goracle." Belonging to a fledgling group called ecoSanity, it was still there hours later, as Mr. Gore enjoyed a reception at the adjacent Simcoe Hall and the dispersing crowd voiced its praise.
"He's the prime minister we need in Canada," said Reid MacWilliam, who has been re-examining his entire life to make it more environmentally responsible.
Many attendees said that the speech closely mimicked the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, but they seemed pleased to listen to it again.
"You can't hear that message enough," said Shawn Omstead, attending with his daughter Meredith. "When we watched the movie, the next day we went and replaced all the light bulbs in the house . . . you see the movie and it sticks with you for a bit and then it fades."
"It was not our intention to have a religious approach," ecoSanity group founder Glenn MacIntosh said, "but it was our understanding that it was that kind of movement that people were craving; that kind of spiritual connection in their gut."
Perhaps the most quaint thing about us climate change sceptics is that we still believe we’re engaged in a scientific debate.