UPDATE: I missed this in the interview, since it wasn’t in the publicist release, it would be a shame not to highlight it.
Would there be hurricanes and floods and droughts without man-made global warming? Of course. But they’re stronger now. The extreme events are more extreme. The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6.
People send me stuff. Apparently, WaPo is so proud of this interview, they had their publicist send it out. I don’t think Al realizes that the “raging” he perceives is actually raucous laughter. – Anthony
From The Washington Post publicist:
Washington Post’s Ezra Klein spoke with Al Gore about why he’s so optimistic about stopping global warming. Excerpts are pasted below and the full transcript can be found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/21/al-gore-explains-why-hes-optimistic-about-stopping-global-warming/
EK: Do the policy failures of the last decade put more pressure on technological advances to be the source of the solution?
AG: No, I seem them as intertwined. To some extent, the failure of policy at Copenhagen and before that in Washington has put more emphasis on the hopeful developments in technology, but as the conversation is won on global warming — and it’s not won yet but it’s very nearly won — the possibilities for policy changes once again open up.
EK: What do you think of the Obama administration’s intentions to push regulatory approaches to limiting carbon emissions?
AG: I’m very encouraged. I thought the president’s speech on climate was terrific and it followed the inspiring comments in his inaugural address and his post-election State of the Union. And remember the impact of policy direction on business calculations is forward-looking. When business begins to understand the direction of policy, they have to start adjusting to where the policy is going. When you look at the EPA process, it’s undeniably clear that there will be a price on carbon one way or the other. Then when you look at the movement in other countries and the states and local measures being enacted, the direction is now quite clear and businesses are making plans to adjust to it.
EK: Give me the optimistic scenario on what happens next. If all goes well, what do the next few years look like on this issue?
AG: Well, I think the most important part of it is winning the conversation. I remember as a boy when the conversation on civil rights was won in the South. I remember a time when one of my friends made a racist joke and another said, hey man, we don’t go for that anymore. The same thing happened on apartheid. The same thing happened on the nuclear arms race with the freeze movement. The same thing happened in an earlier era with abolition. A few months ago, I saw an article about two gay men standing in line for pizza and some homophobe made an ugly comment about them holding hands and everyone else in line told them to shut up. We’re winning that conversation.
The conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it’s mentioned. It’s like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace. But the political climate is changing. Something like Chris Hayes’s excellent documentary on climate change wouldn’t have made it on TV a few years ago. And as I said, many Republicans who’re still timid on the issue are now openly embarrassed about the extreme deniers. The deniers are being hit politically. They’re being subjected to ridicule, which stings. The polling is going back up in favor of doing something on this issue. The ability of the raging deniers to stop progress is waning every single day.
When that conversation is won, you’ll see more measures at the local and state level and less resistance to what the EPA is doing. And slowly it will become popular to propose steps that go further and politicians that take the bit in their teeth get rewarded. I remember when the tide turned on smoking in public places. People thought the late Frank Lautenburg was crazy for proposing a ban on smoking in airplanes, but he was rewarded politically and then politicians began falling all over themselves to do the same. That’s the optimistic scenario. And it’s not just a scenario! It’s happening now!
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re still increasing emissions. But we’re approaching this tipping point. Businesses are driving it. Grass roots are driving it. Policies and changes in law in places like india and China and Mexico and California and Ireland will proliferate and increase, and soon we’ll get to the point where national laws will evolve into global cooperation.
The Washington Post