Climate Reality with Al Gore
- May 2015

Y'all remember Al Gore, the Tennessee Senator who became Vice President, who was then elected President but was denied the right to serve, who went on, unfettered by politics, to pursue his passion to fight climate change — creating the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth and winning the Nobel Prize. Al Gore spent three days in Cedar Rapids recently, and I was lucky to have been one of 400 people from around the world (including five Fairfielders) who joined him for his Climate Reality Leadership Training.

There was a time when Gore was considered wonky or wooden. In 1999, the Washington Post called him "the highest-ranking boring man in the land." He has been transformed. As a speaker he is powerful, authentic, and moving, commanding the stage for hours at a time. Starting with a masterful delivery of a hugely expanded version of the slide show that was An Inconvenient Truth, he walked us through detailed commentary on the guts of the presentation, emceed on-stage dialogue with local leaders and scientists, and made stirring calls to action throughout the event. Repeatedly bringing the audience to its feet, he left us fired up and ready to go out and spread the word

What is our mandate? To educate, inform, and inspire. To change the conversation, by telling this story to as many people and groups as we can. To present the scientific facts about the danger (as serious as anything humanity has ever faced); to awaken a heightened sense of alarm about the terrible human costs we face on both a planetary and a local scale; to celebrate the astonishing advances we have made in renewable energy and sustainable technologies; and to call for a bold new surge on every front. We are charged with countering the stubborn vestiges of climate denial and battling the easy slump into apathy or distraction. In the coming election cycle, we will challenge the candidates. As world leaders move toward the Paris Climate Summit in November, we will make sure they feel the people's urgency.

Along with all leading climate scientists, we stand convinced that the majority of known fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground, requiring an unprecedented write-down of stranded, unusable assets — a hugely challenging goal in a profit-driven corporate economy. But the difficulty cannot deter us from a responsibility we cannot avoid.

Climate change is not a maybe-so, maybe-no question. Science now speaks with one voice, a voice that announces the direst of warnings, and our job is to help that voice be heard loud and clear.