- Written by Adrian Tait Adrian Tait
- Published: 24 August 2013 24 August 2013
It has been a long, hard haul since Copenhagen 2009, but here is Al Gore talking optimistically about a tipping point
Al Gore spoke in the same optimistic vein that he exhibits in his 2013 book The Future, talking about a tipping point in the fight against global warming. I recommend reading this interview. Whether or not you agree with all his arguments, with his belief in a sustainable version of capitalism, or with the way he walks his talk, it is packed with interesting points and issues.
Over-arching all the detail is the subject of optimism and pessimism. Gore walks a kind of tightrope here, for instance claiming that the flooding in New York caused by Hurricane Sandy helped to quicken awareness of the need for urgent action.
He acknowledges that emissions continue unabated, underlining this with the chilling observation that the energy thereby released is equivalent daily to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs. Without any apparent wobble, he seems to be asserting that rational fear is, after all, acting as a motivator, also that we should not be too fearful because the signs are everywhere to be seen that the necessary changes are under way. He tells us that he has picked up clear signs of discomfort within the Republican Party, over its anti-science stance. The recent pronouncement by four Republican ex-EPA chiefs that the scientific debate is over does seem to substantiate that.
He links his political observations with economic and industrial data, citing for instance a far more rapid increase in renewable electricity generation than had been predicted. These, and other strong signals from the USA, he puts together with evidence from around the world, amounting to the tipping point he detects. The “conversation” on global warming he deems to be “very nearly won”. This claim links hands with the confidence and conviction of Obama’s recent climate speech. I expect it also has something to do with what we can expect from next month’s IPCC report.
Gore seems to believe that the influence of the denial industry will soon be on the wane. Even if this is true, I wonder if his optimism has enough in it to shrink the need for denial at the level of individual human vulnerability. Time will tell, but for me, the exciting thing about all this is the feeling that he is sensing at very least a moment of opportunity and is calling out to everyone who cares to go on looking for ways of realising it. Perhaps he is helping to provide the kind of leadership that the world has been in desperate need of, since the dark days of Copenhagen.
There have been plans brewing for a while to devise a CPA event on the theme of optimism and pessimism.