Al Gore on the changing climate

“We are counting on you,” said former vice president Al Gore to Vermont residents, the fifth-graders from the Sustainability Academy and UVM students in the Ira Allen Chapel Oct. 6.

Al Gore on the changing climate PHOTO BY COLE WANGSNESS
Al Gore on the changing climate PHOTO BY COLE WANGSNESS

Gore’s lecture, “The Climate Crisis and The Case for Hope,” was a part of UVM’s Energy Action Seminar Series.

“When someone as historically and politically relevant as Al Gore is giving a speech on campus, it’s hard to say no when given the chance to go,” sophomore Colin Rugg said.  “I’ve always been interested in the topics that he speaks on, and I was excited to hear him discuss it.”

Gore was introduced by John Replogle, the CEO of Burlington-based Seventh Generation, a company that creates plant-based products that are safe for both consumers and the environment, according to their website.

Gore focused on the increase of temperatures worldwide and why that has led to unprecedented storms, flooding and drought.  Many of the events he spoke about were recent, some even within the past week such as the flooding in Portland, Maine and Hurricane Joaquin.

“In the last decade, the extremely hot days globally are more numerous than the colder than average days. The extremely hot days are about 100 times more common than they were 30 years ago,” Gore said.

“We are at a turning point,” Gore said.  “We need to make a change on a global scale.”

Gore proposed a solution to the ever increasing amount of carbon in the atmosphere. “We need to put a price on carbon and in order to put a price on carbon we need to put a price on denial in the political system,” Gore said.

Gore also praised Burlington for being on its way to using 100 percent reusable energy before ending his speech with several encouraging examples of success.

“We are going to win this struggle, we are winning, the question is how quickly can we win,” he said.

“Every great social movement has had an overrepresentation of young people who have this clear view of what’s at stake and every great moral question, that has ultimately been resolved in a choice between what’s right and what’s wrong has succeeded,” Gore said.   “Abolition, women’s suffrage, civil rights, anti-apartheid, LGBTQ rights; whenever it’s down to right and wrong, we win,” he said.

Al Gore on the changing climate PHOTO BY COLE WANGSNESS
Al Gore on the changing climate PHOTO BY COLE WANGSNESS

Students like first-year Sam Spanierman found the lecture opened his eyes to issues he was unaware of. “Being a Vermont native, I’ve grown up around very liberal, progressive folk who think the environment is a critical issue,” Spanierman said.  “I’m familiar with the concepts … Al Gore did delve deeper than I had previously realized, and I learned much more about the issues and effects of what we as a planet have been doing,” he said.

Other students seemed to feel that Gore could have expanded more on the subject.  “I wish he had talked more about climate adaptation and how we are going to have to live, consequential to our abuse to the planet, in a changing climate and what ways we can slow this change but also live with it, and specifically what kind of new policies we should be thinking about,” sophomore Emily Daroga said.

Rugg also said that not all of his questions were answered during the lecture.  “I wanted to hear more about how students could make a difference when it seems so difficult to overcome an establishment that is often slow to accept change,” Rugg said.