Global warming is a planetary emergency, says Al Gore

In an interview with India Today's Managing Editor Raj Chengappa and Mail Today's Dinesh Sharma, prominent environmental activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US Vice-President Al Gore deliberates upon the issue of global warming. Excerpts:

Raj Chengappa: You probably have achieved more in the past seven years than all your years in Government and Legislature that included being twice the vice-president of the US. You shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, your documentary movie An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar and your campaign on global warming has received world-wide recognition and support. And yet you said when you received your Nobel Prize, your finest hour, that you have failed in your mission. Why did you say that?
Al Gore: Well today we the people of this planet would put another seventy million tones of global warming pollution into the earth's atmosphere. And thank you for all your kind words about the message I tried to deliver and I do think that it has been received, heard, understood by many people. But as yet, there has been no real change in the underlying behaviour and activities that create this planetary emergency and it really is a planetary emergency.

Al Gore
Al Gore
It is a crisis and we have to find ways to come to an agreement to reduce the carbon dioxide. That is my objective and if you look at all of the things on the surface there have been great and positive experiences that I have had and I am grateful and honoured. But if you look at the real objective, I have not yet found the way to get the results that I would like to see. I do think we are making progress towards a tipping point and if we cross that tipping point and enough people share this sense of urgency that I think is appropriate, then I think we will solve it. But we are not there yet.

RC: Recently there was tremendous pressure for you to run for the Presidency and you know with the most powerful job in the world that is there, you could have done so much more? Why did you decline this demand?
AG: Well I do agree that there is no position in the world with anything approaching the potential of bringing about change as the job of President of United States. I ran for President twice. I did not completely rule out the possibility that at some point in the future of being a candidate again, but the truth is that I came to a conclusion during the years that I worked in the White House as Vice President and in the experience of campaigning nationally yet again, that this crisis is going to be solved when there is a sea change in public opinion. And I think that the best contribution that I can make is by trying to figure out how to bring about that change so that the people themselves then put pressure on whoever is elected President to change the policies. It feels like the right thing for me to do. I could be wrong about it. But it feels right.

Dinesh Sharma: Mr Gore, as the campaign is picking momentum, there are strong economic industrial lobbies which are pushing the line that the whole issue is about cutting down energy consumption. How do you counter that?
AG: Yes they have had success in paralyzing the political process. When the energy lobbies, particularly some of the least responsible carbon polluters, when they offer an illusory presentation that there is no problem that we don't have to worry about it any more, lots of people naturally want to believe that because if that were true, it would be a big relief. Unfortunately, it is not true and if we keep putting off the day of reckoning, it is more difficult to solve the crisis. But you are right.

They are spending millions of dollars a year trying to confuse people. I think that is unethical. I think that it should not be seen as acceptable. To counter it I have organized a non-profit group in the US that is bipartisan, as many Republicans as Democrats, to counter that campaign and to put forward to the people with the reasons why we must solve this crisis and why. The solutions are available, we have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of political will as I pointed out repeatedly, that is a renewable resource, I genuinely believe that and I have faith. When enough people see it clearly and understand it fully, then the political system is going to be transformed.

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