algore vs mother earth and friends
Al Gore On Saving The Earth—And Our Health
When I speak with former vice president Al Gore about his new movie,An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, President Trump has not yet withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement, the world's first comprehensive climate accord, and Gore is upbeat. The film, about the looming threat of climate change, is a sequel to his Academy Award-winning filmAn Inconvenient Truthand had been met with accolades at the Cannes Film Festival a week before. I ask him what he thinks the odds are that the president will abandon the accord. "I believe there's a better than 50-50 chance that President Trump will decide to keep the US in the Paris Agreement," Gore says.
Days later, Trump pulls out of the pact. Gore issues a statement calling Trump's decision "a reckless and indefensible action." The movie's ending—which is set during the historic Paris meeting to announce the accord—will be hastily revised. Due in theaters on July 28, the film will be released with a book of the same name, published by Prevention's parent company, Rodale. Here are highlights of our conversation.
Barbara O'Dair:You've said you refuse to be disheartened by setbacks to the climate change movement. That's quite a statement from a man who is devoting his life to a cause that's seemingly misunderstood by half the country.
Al Gore:Maybe I was inoculated against being disheartened by the Supreme Court decision of December 2000. The antibodies are still alive and well.
Gore warns of "the incredible range of health threats posed by the climate crisis," including respiratory illnesses, problems with women's reproductive health, and even mental health consequences.
But I've been heartened by the emergence of easily affordable and widely available solutions to the climate crisis. I place the movement in the context of the moral causes that have advanced the prospects for humanity. The abolition of slavery, the struggle for women's rights, the gay and lesbian rights movement—they all went through periods when their advocates were tempted to despair. But when the question they posed was resolved into a choice between right and wrong, change came quickly. Nelson Mandela once said, "It's always impossible until it's done." The climate movement is very close to the same kind of social and political tipping point.
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Would you call climate change our No. 1 public health crisis?
I'm not a doctor, but, yes, I would. Air pollution and increased allergens are creating respiratory diseases and making asthma significantly worse. The concentration of nutrients in our food goes down as CO2 levels go up. And don't forget the health consequences of climate-related extreme-weather events.
Why do people have such difficulty with the idea that Earth is warming and we have something to do with it?
We're a nation where one of the major political parties has been captured by climate denial. The environment used to be a bipartisan issue. In 2008, the Republican nominee for president, John McCain, had an excellent pro-climate platform. In Tennessee, we have an old saying that if you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn't get there by itself. When you see these extraordinarily high levels of climate denial, principally in one party in the US, you can be pretty sure that didn't happen by itself, either.
But how is science so readily dismissed?
Many large carbon polluters and their ideological allies spent billions of dollars promoting false doubt. They adopted the playbook of the tobacco companies after the 1964 Surgeon General's report linked smoking to lung cancer. The companies put actors in front of cameras to say, "Hi, I'm a doctor, and you don't have to worry about smoking cigarettes. I smoke them myself."
What is our best hope that climate change will revert from being a political issue to an environmental one?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "No lie can live forever." The same thing [that happened with pro-smoking interests] is happening now with the climate deniers financed by the carbon polluters.
In some people's minds, there's an economic argument that coal miners and others lose their jobs with the loss of traditional energy sources.
The key to creating millions of new jobs is embracing the sustainability revolution. Rather than giving a hollow promise to hard-hit Appalachian communities that coal jobs are coming back, we need to retrain people for jobs in fresh air and sunshine. Solar jobs are now twice as numerous as all the jobs in the coal industry, and they're growing 17 times faster than job growth generally. Large corporations have shifted to 100% renewable energy. Businesses are advertising that they're greener than their competition. The US ought to be a leader in this revolution.
MORE: 70 Super Simple, Totally Doable, Teeny Tiny Ways To Be A Little Bit Greener
Al Gore on How to Fight Climate Change
1. Win the conversation.
2. Choose climate-friendly products.
3. Let candidates and elected officials know climate change is a priority.
Have you always been a science geek?
[Laughs] I have to own up to that. I've always had an interest in science, and since my college years, I've spent a considerable amount of time with climate scientists who have been very patient in explaining things to me over and over in progressively simpler language that I can understand eventually. Then I have the confidence to pass on their message.
What do you feel when you wake up in the morning?
A profound sense of gratitude that I have work to do that is worthy of everything I could put into it and that it gives me energy back in return.
Where do you go to get nourished by the natural world?
I first formed my own connection to the land on my family's farm in Carthage, TN. I enjoy walking on my farm and taking my family canoeing on the river. I believe that all of us are wired to gain strength and fulfillment not only from each other but also from the natural world.
So, what now with Trump?
We're going to solve this regardless of President Trump.
Find more on An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Rodale, 2019) at .
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