Gore urges action on climate change

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN Former Vice President Al Gore did not mince words about climate change Wednesday:”We are facing a true planetary emergency,” Gore said.As the featured speaker for the Greentech Innovation Network summit, a gathering of world leaders and innovators to discuss climate-change solutions, Gore sounded more like a preacher than a policymaker, at moments reddening in the face and urging the audience to act for climate change. Gore was interviewed at the Benedict Music Tent by John Doerr, a venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, a “greentech” investment company which, along with the Aspen Institute, sponsored the event.While Gore’s feelings about climate change are clear, his presidential ambitions are anything but. Gore danced around the lingering question, saying his work to raise awareness about climate issues is more important. The Oval Office is a good place to influence global policies, Gore said, adding that the world faces a “very different kind of challenge” with the climate crisis. The real battle, Gore said, is to change the way people think about climate change. Gore, who won an Academy Award for his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” outlined his call to action on climate change, a three- to five-year campaign that began July 7 with the Live Earth concerts simulcast worldwide.

“Become carbon-neutral. It’s actually not that difficult,” Gore said. He called on individuals to protect forests, plant trees, make intelligent decisions as consumers and citizens, and support legislators taking action for the environment.As part of his climate-change campaign, Gore is asking people to take up his “7 Point Pledge,” which pressures legislators to draft an international climate treaty and cut global-warming pollution by 90 percent in developed counties, as well as take a list of personal actions ranging from fighting for a moratorium on any coal-fired facilities to going carbon-neutral and working toward better energy efficiency.”I’ve been trying to tell that story for 30 years,” Gore said, crediting his wife, Tipper, and director Davis Guggenheim for encouraging him to make “An Inconvenient Truth.” “It made a big difference in ability to communicate with a lot of people.”Things look bleak”There should be no illusions that we are losing this battle badly,” Gore said.

But he stressed while the planet is fighting in its defensive zone “between the two- and three-yard lines,” it is no time to give up.”I’m optimistic,” Gore said. “Once there is a critical mass of opinion and people realize the real truth of our situation. … We can move past the tipping point.”Just as the “Greatest Generation” defeated fascism during World War II, Gore said this generation can do the same with global warming.”We have to find a way to acknowledge the truth in our situation,” Gore said. “We are living in a very thin biosphere surrounding our planet. … We have actually changed the heat balance between the earth and the sun.”If the situation carries on as it is, the world will see temperatures rise higher than ever known, and it won’t be the Earth itself that is threatened, but human civilization, Gore said. The polar ice caps, which are melting three times faster than expected, could be gone in 35 years, he said. But the Kyoto Protocol won’t fix it, Gore said.Gore said he expects a tougher treaty, one that would include both the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest polluters.

“Both must be part of this new treaty,” Gore said, “It has to happen.”And, just as the printing press revolutionized ideas and the Internet revolutionized information, Gore called for a radical change beginning with information, and compared the public’s ideas about climate change to the run-up to the war in Iraq.”In both cases, the truth was pushed aside. The best evidence was not just ignored but buried,” Gore said.Addressing the climate crisis is also “our chance to get our act together” on issues such as children dying of poverty and disease, or the loss of the world’s ocean fisheries and tropical forests, he said.”These are not political problems – they are moral imperatives,” Gore said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is


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