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BY JEFF LEE, VANCOUVER SUN FEBRUARY 17, 2016
Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president whose stark warning a decade ago about climate change electrified the world, on Wednesday said he now believes humankind “will win this battle.”
In a speech first couched with bad news about the continued acceleration of the effects of global warming, Gore told the TED Conference in Vancouver major advancements in renewable energy, private sector investments and public attitudes have helped turn the tide.
Decidedly optimistic, Gore said he’s seen a “revolutionary breakthrough” in the advancements of low-carbon energy production, such as wind and solar power.
Although fossil fuels are still subsidized 40 times more than renewables, private sector investment in green energy now surpasses investments in carbon fuels.
The best projections 14 years ago was that society would install one gigawatt of solar energy a year by 2010, he said.
“When 2010 came around, we beat that mark 17 times over. Last year we beat it by 58 times over, and this year we are on track to beat it 68 times over,” he said.
“We are going to win this. We are going to prevail.”
It was a markedly different speech Gore gave to TED delegates in 2006 when he spoke about the rising crisis of climate change. Many did not believe him. But a year later he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, and his non-profit group, the Climate Reality Project, has gone on to prove and solidify his theories. His book, An Inconvenient Truth, woke many to the dangers of climate change.
On Wednesday Gore said the world still faces much danger from carbon pollution.
He pointed to the thin shell of the earth’s atmosphere, which he said is “the open sewer for our industrial civilization”, which continues to spew 110 million tonnes of global heat-warming pollution into the atmosphere every 24 hours.
The atmosphere is reacting with increasingly strong climactic events, from record floods to drought to heat waves, he said.
“Every night on the news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”
He noted the rise and spread of microbial diseases to new territories because of the changing environment.
The rising “climate-related disasters” are also causing geopolitical instability. He pointed to the climate-related drought that started in Syria in 2006 drove 1.5 million refugees into cities, “where they collided with refugees fleeing the Iraq war.”
And yet Gore left the TED audience with a message of hope. Society, at long last, he said, is beginning to listen and act.
”We have the will to act, and the will to act is itself a renewable resource,” he said. “It matters a lot how fast we win it.”
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