Climate crisis getting short shrift in US president race: Gore
MONTEREY, California (AFP) — Former US vice president and renowned climate change fighter Al Gore said Saturday that the global warming crisis is getting short shrift in this year's presidential race.
Gore used the stage at a prestigious Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, California, to call for activism to push climate change to the top of the candidates' political agendas.
"As important as it is to change the light bulbs, it is more important to change the laws," Gore told an elite gathering of scientists, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and Internet superstars.
"We have to become incredibly active as citizens in our democracy. In order to solve the climate crisis we have to solve the democracy crisis, and we have one."
Gore took solace in the fact that leading Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama along with the Republican Party's all-but-certain nominee John McCain are promising "leadership" regarding climate change.
Global warming has been given minimal attention in presidential debates, which have ironically been sponsored by "something with an Orwellian label" of Clean Coal, Gore observed.
A famous book by science fiction author George Orwell depicts a society in which government leaders control citizens with obtuse or oxymoronic vocabulary, stripping people of words for critical thoughts.
"We have to speak up," Gore said. "We have sclerosis in our democracy. Go on the Internet, connect with people."
The Alliance for Climate Protection established in California by Gore will launch a national campaign to increase the heat on candidates regarding how they will fight global warming, according to Gore.
Gore said aspiring presidents should guarantee actions including taxes on carbon dioxide and a moratorium on coal-fueled power plants that don't recapture atmosphere-altering gas.
The new president should immediately sign the Kyoto protocol to fight climate change, ending this country's shameful distinction of being the only hold-out, according to Gore.
"We have had any talk on that scale, but I think we will by November," Gore said of focusing candidates on climate change.
Gore called for a "global Marshall plan" to combat global warming, which is a culprit in poverty, disease, drought and other societal ills.
"There is a bridge between the climate crisis and the crisis of extreme poverty in the world," Gore said.
"One aspect of economic growth is a pattern of consumption that morphed into overconsumption," Gore said while linking the excesses of the rich to the woes of the poor.
"The solution to the climate crisis is going to involve less overconsumption. But, political will needs to be mobilized before we can mobilize resources."
Gore likened efforts to extract oil from tar sand or shale to a junkie injecting drugs in veins between his toes after those in his arms and legs collapse from abuse.
"We have to stop this, and the truth is we can," Gore said. "We have the technology. If we just had one week's worth of what we spend on the Iraq war we could be well on our way to solving this challenge."