Saturday, December 16, 2006

Al Gore to Scientists: Raise Alarms About Climate Crisis

San Francisco Chronicle:
Al Gore, who emerged from political defeat to attain celebrity status as a harbinger of the hazards of global warming, told thousands of scientists Thursday in San Francisco that they have a responsibility to translate their research into possible policy solutions.

Former Vice President Gore, presidential candidate turned climate crusader, spoke at the annual meeting of the world's largest scientific society, the American Geophysical Union.

He urged scientists to communicate the climate crisis "in ways that arouse appropriate alarm that can motivate changes in behavior.''
From his opening line ("I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States'') to his closing advice to speak out against censorship and manipulation of research, he used dry humor and impassioned pleas to encourage the scientists to play a new role in society.

"For civilization as a whole, we've somehow persuaded ourselves that we don't have to care about what happens to future generations,'' he said to about 7,000 scientists, including 3,000 in an overflow room at the Marriott Hotel. "We have a duty to act on the basis of the best evidence."

Even after 40 years of following the science of climate change, he said he was surprised to learn this week about new, earlier projections for when the Arctic sea ice will completely melt during the summertime. That research came from scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado.

"I was shocked that their horizon was 34 years under a business-as-usual scenario. If we allow it to go, it won't come back under any timetable relevant to the human species,'' Gore said.

Gore said he understands scientists' "frustration of completing work and having it mischaracterized.

"Some information is misused,'' he said, and there are efforts to silence scientists.

He spoke of a news story Thursday about the Bush administration instructing U.S. Geological Survey scientists to submit scientific papers and other public documents for screening by supervisors. Other federal scientists, such as those at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have also been censored.

He also criticized the closing of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency libraries and purging of data, contrary to congressional direction.

Gore called it an effort to politicize science.

He now runs Generation Investment Management and Current TV as well as serving as a consultant to Google and as a board member of Apple. His book, "An Inconvenient Truth,'' is a best-seller, and his documentary is being talked about as a possible Oscar nominee.

He appeared at the Commonwealth Club later Thursday afternoon with a panel including Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is chairwoman-elect of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; Duke Energy CEO Paul Anderson; and Stanford University climate scientist Stephen Schneider. The experts, along with venture capitalists Vinod Khosla and Dan Reicher, discussed ways to curb carbon dioxide emissions with Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

The business people agreed that there are generally technological solutions for improving energy efficiency and replacing oil, coal and plastics.

"But no solution works in the marketplace unless it's cheaper than fossil fuel,'' Khosla said.

At present, there is no real incentive for corporations to invest in ways to cut emissions because there has been no clear signal from Washington on what the future regulatory picture will be, Duke's Anderson said.


MR said...

Great post, thanks. Not sure if you've seen this brief recent CNN piece on Gore, but I think it's quite well done. Here's a link to the youtube video

Howard Martin said...

You're welcome, and thanks for the link to the Gore video. Hey ripper, who are you anyway?