6 Reasons Al Gore Believes 'We Will Prevail' in Climate Fight
Al Gore is truly optimistic about the future of humanity and our ability to address climate change. He admitted to the TED2016 audience in Vancouver on Wednesday that “every night on the news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.” But he maintained, “I am extremely optimistic. We are going to win this. We will prevail."
The former vice president began his talk by highlighting the extent of the problem. He flashed images of flooding in Miami, Chile and India, fires in Australia and ice melting in the Arctic. Greenhouse gas emissions are trapping energy in Earth's atmosphere at a rate "equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year," Gore said, quoting climate scientist James Hansen.
“It’s a big planet, but that is a lot of energy,” Gore added.
Despite all this, Gore remains hopeful, arguing humans can and are changing. "Some still doubt we have the will to act," Gore said. "But I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource."
Here are six reasons Gore feels optimistic about tackling climate change, according to TED:
1. In 1980, AT&T was curious how many people would adopt “big, clunky” cell phones in upcoming decades, so they commissioned a McKinsey study to forecast cell phone use by the year 2000. Their projection: 900,000 users. “That did happen,” Gore said, “in first three days.” They hugely underestimated because they didn’t account for the fact that the quality would improve and the cost would come down, both things happening with renewable energy.
2. In 2000, the best projections said that the world would be able to install 30 gigawatts of wind energy capacity by 2010. “We beat that mark by 14 and a half times over,” Gore said.
3. As for solar power, projections 14 years ago said that we could install one gigawatt per year by 2010. “We beat that mark by 17 times over,” Gore said. Last year, we beat it 58 times over. And this year, it looks like that will bump up to 68 times over. The point: solar power is increasing exponentially.
4. The cost of renewable energy has come down 10 percent per year for 30 years. “We are close to reaching grid parity—that line, that threshold below which renewable is cheaper than electricity from burning fossil fuels,” he said. “This is the biggest new investment opportunity in the history of the world.”
5. On Dec. 26, 2015, Germany got 81 percent of its energy from renewables, mainly solar and wind.
6. And then there’s the fact that on Dec. 12, 2015, 195 governments came together in Paris, under the United Nations, and decided to intentionally change the course of the global economy in order to protect the earth, as described by Christiana Figueres. The year before that 400,000 people marched in New York in support of climate change advocacy.
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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