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TED2006

Al Gore: Averting the climate crisis

February 25, 2006

With the same humor and humanity he exuded in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore spells out 15 ways that individuals can address climate change immediately, from buying a hybrid to inventing a new, hotter "brand name" for global warming.

Al Gore - Climate advocate
Nobel Laureate Al Gore focused the world’s attention on the global climate crisis. Now he’s showing us how we’re moving towards real solutions. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Thank you so much, Chris.
00:28
And it's truly a great honor
to have the opportunity
00:29
to come to this stage twice;
I'm extremely grateful.
00:33
I have been blown away by this conference,
00:36
and I want to thank all of you
for the many nice comments
00:39
about what I had to say the other night.
00:45
And I say that sincerely,
00:47
partly because (Mock sob)
00:50
I need that.
00:52
(Laughter)
00:53
Put yourselves in my position.
00:59
(Laughter)
01:01
I flew on Air Force Two for eight years.
01:08
(Laughter)
01:10
Now I have to take off my shoes
or boots to get on an airplane!
01:12
(Laughter)
01:16
(Applause)
01:18
I'll tell you one quick story
01:25
to illustrate what
that's been like for me.
01:27
(Laughter)
01:30
It's a true story --
every bit of this is true.
01:31
Soon after Tipper and I left the --
(Mock sob) White House --
01:34
(Laughter)
01:38
we were driving from our home
in Nashville to a little farm we have
01:40
50 miles east of Nashville.
01:45
Driving ourselves.
01:48
(Laughter)
01:50
I know it sounds like
a little thing to you, but --
01:52
(Laughter)
01:55
I looked in the rear-view mirror
02:01
and all of a sudden it just hit me.
02:06
There was no motorcade back there.
02:09
(Laughter)
02:11
You've heard of phantom limb pain?
02:14
(Laughter)
02:16
This was a rented Ford Taurus.
02:21
(Laughter)
02:25
It was dinnertime,
02:27
and we started looking for a place to eat.
02:29
We were on I-40.
02:33
We got to Exit 238, Lebanon, Tennessee.
02:34
We got off the exit,
we found a Shoney's restaurant.
02:38
Low-cost family restaurant chain,
for those of you who don't know it.
02:41
We went in and sat down at the booth,
and the waitress came over,
02:46
made a big commotion over Tipper.
02:51
(Laughter)
02:53
She took our order, and then went
to the couple in the booth next to us,
02:55
and she lowered her voice so much,
02:59
I had to really strain to hear
what she was saying.
03:01
And she said "Yes, that's former
Vice President Al Gore
03:04
and his wife, Tipper."
03:06
And the man said,
03:08
"He's come down a long way, hasn't he?"
03:10
(Laughter)
03:12
(Applause)
03:17
There's been kind
of a series of epiphanies.
03:21
(Laughter)
03:24
The very next day,
continuing the totally true story,
03:26
I got on a G-V to fly to Africa
to make a speech in Nigeria,
03:29
in the city of Lagos,
on the topic of energy.
03:35
And I began the speech
by telling them the story
03:39
of what had just happened
the day before in Nashville.
03:42
And I told it pretty much the same way
I've just shared it with you:
03:45
Tipper and I were driving ourselves,
03:49
Shoney's, low-cost
family restaurant chain,
03:51
what the man said -- they laughed.
03:53
I gave my speech, then went back
out to the airport to fly back home.
03:55
I fell asleep on the plane
03:59
until, during the middle
of the night, we landed
04:01
on the Azores Islands for refueling.
04:03
I woke up, they opened the door,
I went out to get some fresh air,
04:06
and I looked, and there was a man
running across the runway.
04:09
And he was waving a piece
of paper, and he was yelling,
04:12
"Call Washington! Call Washington!"
04:15
And I thought to myself,
in the middle of the night,
04:20
in the middle of the Atlantic,
04:23
what in the world could be
wrong in Washington?
04:24
Then I remembered
it could be a bunch of things.
04:26
(Laughter)
04:29
But what it turned out to be,
04:34
was that my staff was extremely upset
04:36
because one of the wire services
in Nigeria had already written a story
04:40
about my speech,
04:46
and it had already been printed in cities
04:47
all across the United States of America.
04:49
It was printed in Monterey, I checked.
04:52
(Laughter)
04:53
And the story began,
04:55
"Former Vice President Al Gore
announced in Nigeria yesterday," quote:
04:58
'My wife Tipper and I have opened
a low-cost family restaurant'" --
05:02
(Laughter)
05:06
"'named Shoney's,
05:07
and we are running it ourselves.'"
05:09
(Laughter)
05:10
Before I could get back to U.S. soil,
05:14
David Letterman and Jay Leno
had already started in on --
05:16
one of them had me
in a big white chef's hat,
05:20
Tipper was saying,
"One more burger with fries!"
05:23
(Laughter)
05:26
Three days later,
05:27
I got a nice, long, handwritten letter
05:28
from my friend and partner
and colleague Bill Clinton, saying,
05:31
"Congratulations
on the new restaurant, Al!"
05:34
(Laughter)
05:37
We like to celebrate
each other's successes in life.
05:43
(Laughter)
05:47
I was going to talk
about information ecology.
05:53
But I was thinking that,
05:55
since I plan to make a lifelong habit
of coming back to TED,
05:58
that maybe I could talk
about that another time.
06:01
(Applause)
06:04
Chris Anderson: It's a deal!
06:05
(Applause)
06:07
Al Gore: I want to focus
on what many of you have said
06:10
you would like me to elaborate on:
06:14
What can you do about the climate crisis?
06:16
I want to start with a couple of --
06:21
I'm going to show some new images,
06:24
and I'm going to recapitulate
just four or five.
06:27
Now, the slide show.
06:32
I update the slide show
every time I give it.
06:34
I add new images,
06:37
because I learn more about it
every time I give it.
06:39
It's like beach-combing, you know?
06:42
Every time the tide comes in and out,
you find some more shells.
06:44
Just in the last two days, we got
the new temperature records in January.
06:47
This is just for
the United States of America.
06:53
Historical average
for Januarys is 31 degrees;
06:56
last month was 39.5 degrees.
06:59
Now, I know that you wanted some more
bad news about the environment --
07:03
I'm kidding.
07:08
But these are the recapitulation slides,
07:10
and then I'm going to go into new
material about what you can do.
07:13
But I wanted to elaborate
on a couple of these.
07:16
First of all, this is where
we're projected to go
07:19
with the U.S. contribution
to global warming,
07:22
under business as usual.
07:24
Efficiency in end-use electricity
and end-use of all energy
07:26
is the low-hanging fruit.
07:31
Efficiency and conservation --
it's not a cost; it's a profit.
07:33
The sign is wrong.
07:37
It's not negative; it's positive.
07:40
These are investments
that pay for themselves.
07:42
But they are also very effective
in deflecting our path.
07:45
Cars and trucks -- I talked
about that in the slideshow,
07:50
but I want you to put it in perspective.
07:54
It's an easy, visible target of concern --
07:57
and it should be --
08:02
but there is more global warming pollution
that comes from buildings
08:03
than from cars and trucks.
08:08
Cars and trucks are very significant,
08:10
and we have the lowest
standards in the world.
08:13
And so we should address that.
But it's part of the puzzle.
08:16
Other transportation efficiency
is as important as cars and trucks.
08:19
Renewables at the current levels
of technological efficiency
08:24
can make this much difference.
08:28
And with what Vinod, and John Doerr
and others, many of you here --
08:30
there are a lot of people
directly involved in this --
08:36
this wedge is going to grow
much more rapidly
08:39
than the current projection shows it.
08:41
Carbon Capture and Sequestration --
that's what CCS stands for --
08:43
is likely to become the killer app
that will enable us
08:49
to continue to use fossil fuels
in a way that is safe.
08:56
Not quite there yet.
09:04
OK. Now, what can you do?
09:05
Reduce emissions in your home.
09:11
Most of these expenditures
are also profitable.
09:13
Insulation, better design.
09:18
Buy green electricity where you can.
09:20
I mentioned automobiles -- buy a hybrid.
09:24
Use light rail.
09:28
Figure out some of the other options
that are much better.
09:30
It's important.
09:33
Be a green consumer.
09:35
You have choices with everything you buy,
09:36
between things that have a harsh effect,
09:39
or a much less harsh effect
on the global climate crisis.
09:43
Consider this:
09:49
Make a decision to live
a carbon-neutral life.
09:51
Those of you who are good at branding,
09:55
I'd love to get your advice and help
09:57
on how to say this in a way
that connects with the most people.
10:00
It is easier than you think.
10:06
It really is.
10:08
A lot of us in here
have made that decision,
10:12
and it is really pretty easy.
10:15
It means reduce
your carbon dioxide emissions
10:17
with the full range
of choices that you make,
10:23
and then purchase or acquire offsets
10:26
for the remainder that you have not
completely reduced.
10:30
And what it means is elaborated
at climatecrisis.net.
10:33
There is a carbon calculator.
10:40
Participant Productions convened --
10:44
with my active involvement --
10:47
the leading software writers in the world,
10:50
on this arcane science
of carbon calculation,
10:53
to construct a consumer-friendly
carbon calculator.
10:56
You can very precisely calculate
what your CO2 emissions are,
11:01
and then you will be given
options to reduce.
11:07
And by the time the movie
comes out in May,
11:10
this will be updated to 2.0,
11:13
and we will have click-through
purchases of offsets.
11:15
Next, consider making
your business carbon-neutral.
11:19
Again, some of us have done that,
11:23
and it's not as hard as you think.
11:24
Integrate climate solutions
into all of your innovations,
11:27
whether you are from the technology,
11:32
or entertainment, or design
and architecture community.
11:34
Invest sustainably.
11:37
Majora mentioned this.
11:39
Listen, if you have invested money
with managers who you compensate
11:42
on the basis of their annual performance,
11:48
don't ever again complain
about quarterly report CEO management.
11:51
Over time, people do
what you pay them to do.
11:57
And if they judge how much
they're going to get paid
12:01
on your capital that they've invested,
12:06
based on the short-term returns,
12:09
you're going to get short-term decisions.
12:11
A lot more to be said about that.
12:15
Become a catalyst of change.
12:17
Teach others, learn about it,
talk about it.
12:19
The movie is a movie version
of the slideshow
12:24
I gave two nights ago,
except it's a lot more entertaining.
12:27
And it comes out in May.
12:31
Many of you here have the opportunity
to ensure that a lot of people see it.
12:34
Consider sending somebody to Nashville.
12:39
Pick well.
12:44
And I am personally going to train people
to give this slideshow --
12:46
re-purposed, with some
of the personal stories obviously replaced
12:50
with a generic approach,
12:55
and it's not just the slides,
it's what they mean.
12:57
And it's how they link together.
13:00
And so I'm going to be conducting
a course this summer
13:01
for a group of people that are
nominated by different folks
13:06
to come and then give it en masse,
13:10
in communities all across the country,
13:12
and we're going to update the slideshow
for all of them every single week,
13:14
to keep it right on the cutting edge.
13:19
Working with Larry Lessig, it will be,
somewhere in that process,
13:22
posted with tools
and limited-use copyrights,
13:26
so that young people can remix it
and do it in their own way.
13:31
(Applause)
13:36
Where did anybody get the idea
13:39
that you ought to stay
arm's length from politics?
13:41
It doesn't mean
that if you're a Republican,
13:43
that I'm trying to convince you
to be a Democrat.
13:45
We need Republicans as well.
13:48
This used to be a bipartisan issue,
13:50
and I know that
in this group it really is.
13:52
Become politically active.
13:54
Make our democracy work the way
it's supposed to work.
13:56
Support the idea of capping
carbon dioxide emissions --
13:59
global warming pollution --
and trading it.
14:05
Here's why: as long as the United States
is out of the world system,
14:07
it's not a closed system.
14:11
Once it becomes a closed system,
with U.S. participation,
14:13
then everybody
who's on a board of directors --
14:17
how many people here
serve on the board of directors
14:19
of a corporation?
14:22
Once it's a closed system,
14:25
you will have legal liability
if you do not urge your CEO
14:26
to get the maximum income from reducing
and trading the carbon emissions
14:32
that can be avoided.
14:37
The market will work
to solve this problem --
14:38
if we can accomplish this.
14:43
Help with the mass persuasion campaign
that will start this spring.
14:47
We have to change the minds
of the American people.
14:50
Because presently, the politicians
do not have permission
14:53
to do what needs to be done.
14:55
And in our modern country, the role
of logic and reason no longer includes
14:58
mediating between wealth and power
the way it once did.
15:03
It's now repetition of short, hot-button,
30-second, 28-second television ads.
15:06
We have to buy a lot of those ads.
15:12
Let's re-brand global warming,
as many of you have suggested.
15:15
I like "climate crisis"
instead of "climate collapse,"
15:19
but again, those of you
who are good at branding,
15:22
I need your help on this.
15:24
Somebody said the test
we're facing now, a scientist told me,
15:26
is whether the combination
of an opposable thumb
15:30
and a neocortex is a viable combination.
15:33
(Laughter)
15:36
That's really true.
15:38
I said the other night,
and I'll repeat now:
15:42
this is not a political issue.
15:46
Again, the Republicans here --
this shouldn't be partisan.
15:48
You have more influence
than some of us who are Democrats do.
15:54
This is an opportunity.
15:58
Not just this, but connected
to the ideas that are here,
15:59
to bring more coherence to them.
16:04
We are one.
16:07
Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
16:08
(Applause)
16:11

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Al Gore - Climate advocate
Nobel Laureate Al Gore focused the world’s attention on the global climate crisis. Now he’s showing us how we’re moving towards real solutions.

Why you should listen

Former Vice President Al Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management. While he’s is a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and a member of Apple, Inc.’s board of directors, Gore spends the majority of his time as chair of The Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis.

He is the author of the bestsellers Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth, The Assault on Reason, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, and most recently, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. He is the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and is the co-recipient, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”

Gore was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982 and the U.S. Senate in 1984 and 1990. He was inaugurated as the 45th Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1993, and served eight years.

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