Christian Long

Al Gore: Warns on the Latest Climate Crisis

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Reflection by RACHEL L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Al Gore:  Warns on the Latest Climate Crisis

Al Gore was the United States Vice President from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Gore ran for U.S. President in 2000 but lost to republican candidate George W. Bush after the controversy in Florida over the election that was too close to call. Bush won Florida by around 500 votes. Gore has written two books titled An Inconvenient Truth and Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. He also starred in a documentary also titled An Inconvenient Truth which won two Academy Awards in 2007. Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 for his efforts in raising awareness of the climate change.

Al Gore opens this video with two pictures- one of the arctic ice cap in 1980 and another of the same area in 2007 showing that 40% of the ice has melted in less than 30 years. Gore then points out that the real problem lies in the loss of “permanent ice” which is ice that has been present for over 5 years. The gradual warming heats the ground surrounding the ice and thaws the carbon dioxide present in the ice. This carbon dioxide then turns to methane gas which is now bubbling out of some lakes in Alaska. Gore then states that the entire continent of Antarctica is in a negative ice balance and west Antarctica, which is held up by undersea islands is melting particularly fast. The rapid heating is also contributing to the amount of fires and natural disasters across the world.

So why is all of this happening and why is it important?

Gore points out that the largest cause of global warming along with deforestation is the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and, especially in the U.S., coal. The coal industry has started a campaign for “clean coal” which is a term used for the lowering of the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted from the burning of coal. Gore uses other videos to prove his point that clean coal does not exist. Coal cannot be used efficiently and therefore we must look to other forms of energy to power our country.

President Barack Obama once said “The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we’re contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.” The climate crisis is affecting every aspect of day to day life and no matter how much we are contributing to it, we can no longer ignore it. Now we are urged to “go green” and recycle everything we can. We have to make conscious decisions to help the environment in everything we do. Turning off the lights after you leave a room, unplugging your phone when it isn’t charging, and turning off the car when you are idle are just a few ways to reduce your impact on global warming.

As Gore ends the talk he says “if you want to go quickly go alone, if you want to go far go together. We need to go far, quickly.” The first part is simple. to go fast you must go alone in order to rid yourself of the baggage that is others. In order to go far you must have the support of many. In the end I believe Gore is saying that we must devote ourselves completely to this cause in order to go far and fast.

Al Gore has said before that if he were to be the U.S. president then he would remove employment taxes and implement pollution taxes. By taxing companies for their emissions of carbon dioxide the companies would stop worrying about hiring too many people and start worrying about their effect on the environment. This concept is completely revolutionary to the world of politics.This is the type of thinking that will help win the battle against the climate change.

We have been using the same methods since the problem first presented itself. Maybe now is the time for a fresh perspective.

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