Lobbyist kept slide show safe

Beth Viola is a good packer, and for that she deserves Al Gore’s thanks — maybe even the planet’s, if warnings of a “planetary emergency” are to be believed.

The Holland & Knight lobbyist and former senior environmental adviser to Gore got a call from her onetime boss in 2002, two years after Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race.

“Do you know where my slides are?” Viola remembers the former vice president asking her.

The slides weren’t of the “here’s-me-in-front-of-the-Eiffel Tower” variety, of course. They were slides the vice president believed laid out the irrefutable proof that greenhouse-gas emissions were causing global warming.

Gore had developed the slide show as a senator. In the White House, he expanded and updated the information with the help of staff aides, including Viola.

By the time the Clinton presidency ended, the slide show filled three boxes, which were in danger of getting lost in the move until Viola took it upon herself to protect them.

 “I was so afraid to have them archived for fear they would never be seen again,” Viola said.

So when Gore called, Viola knew exactly where Gore’s slides were — in her office. She handed them over, and the slides became the basis for the public lectures Gore began to give on the dangers of global warming.

Eventually, the lectures became the basis for “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore’s blockbuster movie for which he took home the Academy Award for best documentary this year. (In his short acceptance speech, Gore thanked his wife, Tipper, his family, the Academy and everyone on “this amazing team.” Not Viola.)

Gore updated the slide show for his lecture. But Viola said several slides she kept watch over made it in, including a chart that noted the link between carbon-dioxide emissions and global temperatures over several centuries.

The success of the movie solidified Gore’s image as a leading activist on global warming, which brought him to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify before House and Senate panels on the dangers of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The former vice president warned of a planetary emergency caused by such emissions. Republicans in the House and Senate challenged Gore’s dire warnings.

Viola, who was with Gore during the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, shares her former boss’s concerns. She will travel to Nashville, Tenn., next month to train others to present the slide show she once kept in her office.

“The time is now,” she said. “We need to make some progress here pretty quickly.”