LIVE

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore shares his advice on how to solve the climate crisis now

By KC Baker
April 22, 2020 10:00 AM
Advertisement
Al Gore
Credit: Climate Reality Action Fund

Al Gore has made saving the planet his mission for decades.

The former vice president, Nobel Laureate and noted environmentalist first raised flags about climate change in 1977, when he took office as a newly elected 28-year-old Congressman from Tennessee.

He hasn’t slowed down since.

Over the years, Gore, 72, has worked tirelessly as a U.S. Senator and then as vice president in the Clinton administration to sound the alarms on the dangers of the widening hole in the ozone layer and the need to take action against rising global temperatures.

In 1997, he helped negotiate the Kyoto Protocol, one of the first major international agreements on the climate crisis and a precursor to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In a controversial decision, the Trump Administration announced in 2017 that the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement in 2020.

When Gore left politics, he continued to fight for the environment. In 2005, he founded what would eventually become The Climate Reality Project, which trains volunteers to get the word out about the climate crisis and its many solutions.

In 2006, Gore went Hollywood when the bracing presentations he’d been giving throughout the world wound up on the silver screen in An Inconvenient Truth, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Terrifyingly prescient, the documentary jolted the world into seeing just how destructive — and deadly — the consequences of a heating planet were becoming and will become in the future.

In 2007, he rocked the world with Live Earth, one of the biggest concerts of all time, which featured more than 150 of music’s biggest names, like Sting and the Police (with special guests John Mayer and Kanye West,) Phil Collins and Genesis, Rihanna, Madonna, John Legend, Keith Urban, Alicia Keys, Pharrell and Lenny Kravitz jamming to an audience of more than 2 billion to raise awareness about global warming.

That December, Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in alerting the world to the threat of climate change.

Al Gore
Al Gore

Still fighting to find solutions to the climate crisis, in February, Gore and the Climate Reality Action Fund launched the Vote Your Future: Vote Climate Campaign to encourage voters (especially young voters) to register and to put climate at the top of their lists of concerns when voting in the 2020 elections.

The Climate Reality Action Fund is focusing its efforts on several key states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida and Nevada.

Gore kicked off the campaign with a voter registration rally on Feb. 19 at Texas Southern University in Houston.

Al Gore
Al Gore at Texas Southern University
| Credit: Climate Reality Action Fund

As one of the world’s leading climate experts and activists, Gore announced on Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, that he is endorsing Joe Biden for President because he says Biden will make climate change a “top priority,” the Associated Press was first to report.

“This is the clearest most definitive choice in a national election that the United States of American has ever faced, especially for people who care about the climate,” Gore told The AP, according to US News and World Report.

“If there is any person in America who cares about the climate crisis and has any doubt whatsoever about the importance of voting for Joe Biden this November, I want to emphasize to that person in as strong a way as I possibly can: This is not complicated,” Gore said, the AP and the Washington Post report.

“This is not rocket science,” he said. “This is not a close call.”

Biden asked Gore to help him “strengthen his climate platform,” Gore told the AP.

Going green will help the economy, which is in turmoil now because of the coronavirus, he said.

“We need to speed things up by putting tens of millions of people to work in every community in this country” doing everything from installing solar panels and retrofitting buildings to overhauling agriculture practices, Gore said. “It will be the biggest boost to sustainable economic growth that we’ve ever had.”

In commemoration of the Earth Day anniversary milestone, Gore also shared his advice with PEOPLE readers about what we should know about the climate crisis — and what we should do to solve it.

What are 3 things we should know about the climate crisis?

1. The climate crisis is already affecting us all, every day of our lives. The past five years have been the warmest five years on record. Nineteen of the hottest years ever measured have been in the last 20 years. From devastating droughts and heatwaves to unprecedented storms and “rain bombs,” to rapidly melting polar ice and sea-level rise, to tens of millions of climate refugees, and more, every night on the television news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation. And we are still making it worse by spewing 152 million tons of man-made, heat-trapping global warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet every 24 hours — as if it is an open sewer. We can not afford to be apathetic. It’s up to each of us to solve this crisis.

2. We have the solutions we need to solve the climate crisis. Mounting evidence from around the world gives us great cause for optimism, from the rapidly falling costs and accelerating deployment of renewable energy and electric vehicles to the growing list of multinational businesses that are putting forward ambitious and substantive climate commitments.

The two fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. are solar PV installer and wind turbine, technician. Solar jobs are growing five times faster than average job growth. Generating electricity from wind and solar is now cheaper than coal in every major country. Overall, the biggest source of new jobs is in solving the climate crisis. We could create tens of millions of new jobs retrofitting buildings with LEDs, better windows and better insulation — and those jobs would pay for themselves with lower heating and cooling bills in just a few years.

We are in the beginning stages of a sustainability revolution, which has the magnitude of the industrial revolution and the speed of the digital revolution.

3. We are going to win this. The road is not going to be easy, but when the cause is worth fighting for, the road seldom is. Throughout the history of human civilization, things have taken longer to happen than people think they will, but then they have happened much faster than people thought they could. Such is the case with climate action. And never forget that political will is itself a renewable resource.

What are 3 things we should be doing as individuals and as a society to tackle the climate crisis?

1. Use your choice. Your choices in the marketplace matter a lot. Do not underestimate the power you have as a consumer of goods and services. Demand that companies make real commitments to limit their emissions and decarbonize their operations, and then hold them accountable by putting your money toward the companies that take climate action seriously.

2. Use your voice. Educate yourself, and then talk to your colleagues, friends and family about the global climate crisis and the solutions that are at hand. Find out what solutions might be applicable in your community — like encouraging your mayor to commit your city to 100 percent renewable energy — and make them a reality.

3. Use your vote. Register to vote — and vote for candidates who are in favor of responsible climate solutions. We must demand climate action from leaders at all levels, from city councilmembers to county commissioners to state legislators and governors to members of Congress and our president.

Vote for candidates and measures that will carry forward climate action, and demand better from incumbent representatives who do not already do so. Voting is foundational to our democracy, and this country has seen real change when people — especially young people — show up to make their votes count and their voices heard. For those who say that their vote doesn’t matter, remember that despair is just another form of denial.