by Luke Poliszcuk

Al Gore has launched a massive publicity blitz for his latest book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. His message remains essentially the same: urgent action is necessary to avert a global crisis, it is still not too late, and it doesn’t have to cost the Earth (excuse the pun). In other words, let’s work together, solve our collective problems, and improve our lifestyles at the same time. All-in-all this is another positive message from Al Gore, who contributed significantly to the latest wave of global awareness surrounding the issues of not just climate change but sustainability in general with his 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. However it has once again been received with very mixed responses, ranging from generally positive in the green blogosphere through to downright venomous in some circles.

While this debate seems to be fairly evenly divided along the traditional lines of liberals for and conservatives against, there are still surprises when it comes down to who exactly is siding with the skeptics. For example, on the very liberal-leaning Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Gore received what could at best be described as a lukewarm welcome. This illustrates one of the key issues surrounding climate change: the effectiveness with which the real debate has been stifled and stymied to such an extent that for the most part those of us trying to engage in real discussion may as well be chasing our tails.

Not only the majority of scientists, but also the majority of international political leaders, and even a significant percentage of business leaders, are now clear on at least one major point: we need to change our energy infrastructure from outdated, polluting, primarily fossil fuel sources to clean, advanced, renewable energy supplies. Urgently. This makes sense on a scientific, economic, and political basis. Even if you don’t ‘believe’ in climate change, there is an energy crunch coming that will make the point moot anyway. Those of us lucky to live in developed
countries will have to come off our fossil fuel binge eventually. Weaning ourselves off oil and coal is the only solution. The question is whether we want to do it the hard way or the easy way.

The hard way is, strangely enough, to do nothing. We try to ignore the problem, which is kind of like trying to ignore cancer. It won’t go away. It will manifest itself in more of what we are already seeing. Melting ice caps, changing seasons and the often severe impacts this has on ecosystems, deeper droughts, devastating floods, ferocious hurricanes, and deadly heat waves are not doom-and-gloom predictions of what will come. They are simply statements of fact about what we are already seeing around the planet. The impacts will spread, expand, and increase
in intensity, until one day we can’t ignore these changes any more. But by then we will already be in big trouble.

The easy way is to avert as much damage as we can by taking action. Now. Fortunately, there are many solutions. And even better, each of these solutions presents significant opportunities: for entrepreneurs to create new growth businesses; for people to get clean, green, well-paid employment; and for a whole generation to rise up and work together to create better solutions, better businesses, better jobs, and a better life. What we need to do is to identify these opportunities and foster them with the help of responsible policies and smart investors. In other words, we need innovation and positive change.

And that is Al Gore’s message. So let’s stop shooting the messenger and start to shoot for real, positive change across the board.

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Al Gore