Can the United States beat global warming?
Are you kidding? Al Gore told 10,000-some people at Boise State's Taco Bell Arena tonight that we introduced the concept of freedom to the world, ended slavery, fought World War II on two fronts, beat communism, beat apartheid, gave women the right to vote, fought for civil rights, went to the moon, and won the Fiesta Bowl 43-42 in overtime. You bet we can beat global warming - but only if we act now.
The former vice president brought his famous "slide show" to BSU on Monday night, much of it the same as what he presented in the film An Inconvenient Truth. But Gore continues to update and tailor his presentation for each audience he's addressing - so here, for example, he highlighted how the incidence and severity of forest fires has increased with temperatures over the past decade. He noted that he was in Japan last week for that nation's premier of An Inconvenient Truth, and observed how, in Japanese, the word crisis is represented by two symbols: one for danger, one for opportunity. To get to the opportunity, we must face up to the danger, he said.
Gore is not afraid to face the skeptics, the ranks of whom he said are dwindling faster than glaciers. What if your child had a fever, you went to the doctor, and the doctor told you to take action - but you said, "Well, I read this science fiction book and I'm not sure what you're saying is true"? Gore said folks who still question global warming are those who, if their child's crib was on fire, would declare their child flame-retardant.
To the skeptics, he shows evidence of glacial earthquakes in Greenland - seven in 1993, quadruple that in 2005. He shows studies that revealed how, of 928 peer-reviewed scientific studies, none disputed global warming - but 53% of 636 articles in the popular press did so (including this morning's Page 1 story in the Idaho Statesman). He also roundly debunks the false choices between a vibrant economy and a healthy environment, noting how growing legions of CEOs are embracing the idea that we can have both.
With slide after slide, Gore builds an incontrovertible case that climate crisis is happening, but also that we have the technology and the science to halt the growth in carbon emissions and even send them back toward 1970s levels. All we are missing is political will, Gore said, "and political will is a renewable resource."
That was his last statement. Earlier, Gore noted that he is a "recovering politician," maybe on step nine of a 12-step process. Part of me believes him, but part of me knows our country would be in a far different situation today had Gore gone to the White House - and perhaps Gore, too, knows that he may still have a charge to fill. There is no issue of greater import to the world's future than addressing the rise in CO2 emissions - and there is no one who is more passionate or more eloquent or more committed to the work that must be done than Al Gore.