The Race for Change
Given tremendous societal inertia, do we have any real hope of responding in time to do something meaningful about global warming? Al Gore is confident that we do. As he tells New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, "The political system, like the environment, is nonlinear. In 1941 it was impossible for us to build 1,000 airplanes. In 1942 it was easy. As this pattern becomes ever more clear, there will be a rising public demand for action."
With his new film hitting movie screens and a companion book also hitting shelves, Gore is suddenly everywhere -- a latter-day Paul Revere with a PowerPoint presentation. Of course, given his suddenly high profile, speculation about Gore's political ambitions is rampant. But as Revkin reports, "Mr. Gore and his staff have repeatedly swept aside questions about 2008, insisting that Mr. Gore is not running for office, but is racing to save the planet."
Gore isn't running that race single-handedly. Grist's Amanda Griscom Little describes how the former VP has put together an influential, bi-partisan group called the Alliance for Climate Protection designed to raise money "to move the United States past a tipping point on climate change, beyond which the majority of the people will demand of the political leaders in both parties that they compete to offer genuinely meaningful solutions to the crisis."
Gore told USA Today, "When 50.1 percent of the American people are passionate and committed and feel the sense of urgency that's appropriate here, then the political system will flip. I think we're close to a tipping point."
Speaking at the University of Texas over the weekend, Gore's former boss, Bill Clinton, struck a similar chord. According to Reuters, Clinton said:
Climate change is more remote than terror but a more profound threat to the future of the children and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren I hope all of you have.
It's the only thing we face today that has the power to remove the preconditions of civilized society.
I am not one of those who is pessimistic about the future of the world, assuming we get off our butts and do something about climate change in a timely fashion.