Arriving in Bali immediately after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore arrived at the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change to deliver some "inconvenient truths" to the thousands of delegates. Speaking on Thursday evening as the Conference moved towards it Saturday conclusion, Gore electrified many, citing powerful historical parallels to describe the perils of continued inaction in the face of a worsening global climate crisis. Comparing environmental inaction to a moral failing not dissimilar to the world's failure to respond to the Nazi persecution of European Jews in the 1930s, Gore also pointed to the Marshall Plan in post-WWII Europe as a model of how concerted world action could affect a dynamic change in the political landscape. The Nobel prize winner explained how, in the time span of only 50 years, the economic rebuilding of Europe has ended continent's "exportation of war," rendering as ridiculous the very idea of Germany invading France.
Admonishing U.S. official resistance to commit to firm CO2 reduction targets, Gore told the delegates that the call for decisive action to end climate change was earning groundswell support among the American public and around the world. The forces of "people power" committed to fighting global warning must, according to Gore, allow mankind to pursue a climate change prevention agenda, with or without the immediate support of the U.S.A., Canada and Japan.
Referring to four unanimous assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calling for urgent world action to stop climate change, Gore asked: "The Earth's fever is rising and it won't heal itself. What do you do when your child has fever and the doctor says he needs treatment? Perhaps you go for a second opinion, then a third and a fourth. When the fourth opinion says the problem is very serious, do we still withhold treatment?"
A Tale of Two Planets
Quoting from Charles Dickens, Gore told his audience "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But, unlike the Tale of Two Cities, Gore explained, the world now faces the Tale of Two Planets – Earth and Venus. Insisting that the two planets were identical, with the critical difference that on earth millions of years of plant growth had removed CO2 from the atmosphere and stored it underground in the form of fossil fuels. The removal of CO2 from the once toxic atmosphere of earth had made the planet suitable for the life. However, the rapid combustion of those stored carbons by a fuel-hungry world inhabited by 6.5 billion people is unraveling the earth's delicate atmospheric balance, and leaving us all with an increasingly toxic biosphere.
Onward Climate Warriors, Onward as to War
Gore urged the delegates to lead the way to climate change prevention with or without the immediate support of the U.S.A.: "My country is not the only one that can move forward. You can do one of two things. You can feel anger and frustration and direct it at the US. Or you can move forward and keep a large blank space in your mandate, saying our mandate is incomplete but we're moving forward in the hope that it will be filled in by the time we have a treaty in Copenhagen."
Suggesting the increasingly unpopular Bush administration did not reflect the general sentiments expressed by the U.S. people, their Congress, State governments and municipalities, Gore offered assurances that the U.S.A. would soon "move forward" when the next administration is elected.
The Time for Action is Now
Closing his comments by urging even more aggressive and more urgent targets for the reduction of greenhouse gasses, Gore echoed the warning of scientists sating that the window of opportunity for action may be as little as 10 years.
Gore continued: "Global warming anywhere is a threat to the world everywhere. We must leave Bali with a strong mandate. It's not a political issue, It's not a diplomatic issue. It's a moral issue."
Telling his audience that we live at a unique juncture of human history with the opportunity to "change the shape of the world."
"We have all we need except political will," said Gore. "And that's a renewable resource".
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