On the heels of a hot summer of heatwaves, massive forest fires, drought, and the Inconvenient Truth movie/book tour/lecture series campaign to educate the American public about the perils of global warming, Al Gore delivered a new kind of speech yesterday at NYU. Practically ditching the science, the graphs, charts, figures, and images that prove the existence and consequences of anthropogenic global warming; Gore expounded upon solutions.
This time, there was little to none of the stuff most people find depressing about climate change lectures. In fact, Gore’s speech was a hopeful one. Referencing the United States’ “can do” spirit and its legacy of leading the world in innovation, the tone of the speech was neither scathing, disappointed, nor judgmental. Instead, it almost leads one to naturally assume that the U.S. will indeed rise to this challenge by taking the essential steps to prevent climate change from spiraling into a global disaster. Take the following excerpt, for example.
“After all, many Americans are tired of borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the Persian Gulf to make huge amounts of pollution that destroys the planet’s climate. Increasingly, Americans believe that we have to change every part of that pattern.”
In this paragraph, as in the rest of the speech, Gore links a diversity of socioeconomic and political issues to climate change. In this example, national nuisances like the U.S. foreign debt, reliance on imported oil, and air pollution all connect to the climate change issue in a clear way. Suddenly, we’re just as eager to rid ourselves of the threat of climate change as we are with regard to foreign debt, air pollution, and our reliance on foreign oil.
Any skeptics who believe we lack solutions to address this crisis or who believe the solutions are out of reach would be conviced otherwise after reading Gore’s lecture. Few to none of the ideas he proposes are new. He does, however, present in a palatable way a rather exhaustive lists of solutions spanning alternative auto fuels, renewable energy, improved building standards, carbon sequestration, support for international treaties, emissions cap and trade, and more decentralized energy grids among others. Beyond highlighting our ability to address climate change effectively, Gore makes doing so sound attractive. In true Apollo style, Gore argues that implementing these solutions would promote our energy and economic security, create jobs in the U.S., and encourage innovation.
Combine this speech with rumors that Bush may soon strengthen his climate policy and with an inspiring look at the many U.S. achievements in this arena thus far without national leadership on the issue (most notably and recently the new California law to reduce CO2 emissions) and one might begin to believe that the tide really is a’changin’.
Think Progress has the full text of Gore’s speech.
More coverage at Grist.