Al Gore - Earth In The Balance

Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit - Al Gore

Ah, Al, with friends like you we don't need enemies.
“We learned, for example, that in some areas of Poland, children are regularly taken underground into deep mines to gain some respite from the buildup of gases and pollution of all sorts in the air. One can almost imagine their teachers emerging tentatively from the mine, carrying canaries to warn the children when it’s no longer safe for them to stay above the ground.”

This is an actual quote. From a book. Written by a Nobel Prize Winner.

It came out around the time I lived in the US on my one year cultural exchange program. I was bored to death and entertained myself with inventing crazy stories about Poland and feeding them to gullible American teenagers who went to school with me. 

I told them that although the shops in Poland are open all week, you can only buy things on Mondays. It's a part of government program against poverty and it stops people from buying too much shit they don't need.

Also told them we keep lots of farm animals in our flats and houses even in cities because their body heat keeps us warm at night. The government provides one cow-radiator for a family but if you have some money you are sure to buy a sheep or two to supplement that. Especially in winter. 

So when Al Gore says 'we learned' I think he means he had an exchange student from Poland in his school. 

I would like to note that I haven't read the whole book and have no intention of doing so. I prefer The Onion as my source of factoids.