Al Gore Speaks on Global Warming and the Environment
Beacon Theater, New York
January 15, 2004, Noon
Thank you, Carol, Joan and Peter.
And thanks to all of you for coming here today.
lt was an honor to work with Carol Browner on environmental policies in the last administration and I am grateful for her leadership of Environment 2004. I want to thank Peter for his leadership as Executive Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action and I appreciate all of those who have worked in the trenches with both of these organizations that are co-sponsoring today’s speech.
I want to say a special word about Joan Blades, who traveled from California for this event and who, along with her husband, Wes Boyd, co-founded Moveon.org. She has been from the beginning a moving force behind the emergence of this dynamic new grassroots movement in American politics and public policy. I have made a series of speeches about the policies of the Bush / Cheney Administration towards the major challenges that confront our nation: national security, economic policy, civil liberties, and today: the environment. For me, this issue is in a special category because of what I believe is at stake. I am particularly concerned because the vast majority of the most respected environmental scientists from all over the world have sounded a clear and urgent alarm. The international community – including the United States – began a massive effort several years ago to assemble the most accurate scientific assessment of the growing evidence that the earth’s environment is sustaining severe and potentially irreparable damage from the unprecedented accumulation of pollution in the global atmosphere. In essence, these scientists are telling the people of every nation that global warming caused by human activities is becoming a serious threat to our common future. I am also troubled that the Bush/Cheney Administration does not seem to hear the warnings of the scientific community in the same way that most of us do. Here is what we are talking about:
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Even though the earth is of such vast size, the most vulnerable part of the global environment is the atmosphere – because it is surprisingly thin – as the late Carl Sagan used to say: like a coat of varnish on a globe.
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I don’t think there is any longer a credible basis for doubting that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming. PICTURES 13 THROUGH 65
So the evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.
Global Warming is real. It is happening already and the anticipated consequences are unacceptable. But it is important to understand that this crisis is actually just a symptom of a deeper underlying cause: PICTURES 66 THROUGH 126
Yet in spite of the clear evidence available all around us, there are many who still do not believe that Global Warming is a problem at all. And it’s no wonder: because they are the targets of a massive and well-organized campaign of disinformation lavishly funded by polluters who are determined to prevent any action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, out of a fear that their profits might be affected if they had to stop dumping so much pollution into the atmosphere. And wealthy right-wing ideologues have joined with the most cynical and irresponsible companies in the oil, coal and mining industries to contribute large sums of money to finance pseudo-scientific front groups that specialize in sowing confusion in the public’s mind about global warming. They issue one misleading “report” after another, pretending that there is significant disagreement in the legitimate scientific community in areas where there is actually a broad-based consensus. The techniques they use were pioneered years earlier by the tobacco industry in its long campaign to create uncertainty in the public’s mind about the health risks caused by tobacco smoke. Indeed, some of the very same scientific camp-followers who took money...
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