Appearing before a packed crowd at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, the former vice president and Nobel laureate urged lawmakers to resist the temptation to overturn a federal ban on offshore drilling, and he reiterated his support for a carbon tax accompanied by a “sharp reduction” in payroll taxes.
“We should tax what we burn, not what we earn,” Gore told the crowd. His comments come at a pivotal time, with some Democratic lawmakers saying publicly that they could support a relaxation of the offshore drilling ban as a response to soaring oil prices.
Gore also challenged the country to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources within 10 years. He compared the goal to the Marshall Plan, the interstate highway system and the Apollo program. “Once again,” he said, “we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.”
This isn’t about campaign promises. This isn’t about cutting a political deal. This isn’t about taking a moderate approach. This isn’t about baby steps. This is about the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. This is about science. This is about the desperate need for a global sense of desperate urgency. We don’t have time to waste. We don’t have time to compromise.
The world is not addressing climate change with anything remotely close to the urgency it demands. Nearly a month ago, I wrote about the collapse of international efforts to address climate change. I linked about the increased industry disinformation campaign. About how the British, the European Union, China, India, Russia, Australia, and the U.S Senate are failing. This is an historical moment when world leadership is required. When someone needs to step up and force the world to open its collective eyes and stop dithering and denying and pretending and avoiding. This is not a time to be perpetuating myths and enabling both the process and the paradigm that undermine the very concept of our having a collective future.
As I wrote, last month:
And, of course, January saw this report, in Science Daily:
A new analysis of global surface temperatures by NASA scientists finds the past year was tied for the second warmest since 1880. In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year on record.
Although 2008 was the coolest year of the decade because of a strong La Nina that cooled the tropical Pacific Ocean, 2009 saw a return to a near-record global temperatures as the La Nina diminished, according to the new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The past year was a small fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest on record, putting 2009 in a virtual tie with a cluster of other years –1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 — for the second warmest on record.
Or even more to the point:
January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Looking back to 1880, when modern scientific instrumentation became available to monitor temperatures precisely, a clear warming trend is present, although there was a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s.
The nations facing imminent catastrophe are trying. But they are tiny, and considered politically insignificant. There are already an estimated 25,000,000 climate refugees. We ignore them not only at their peril but at our own. These nations, these peoples. Keep an eye on them. Their desperation will be ours. Because in the face of the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, the world’s leaders are failing to lead.
A couple days ago, The Guardian had this:
Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.
It follows a tumultuous few months in which public opinion on efforts to tackle climate change has been undermined by events such as the climate scientists’ emails leaked from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.
“I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,” said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. “The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.”
It appears that Lovelock is right. It appears that The Guardian’s characterization of what Lovelock said is right.
I hope Al Gore has a happy birthday.