An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Al Gore: [quoting Mark Twain] "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
Al Gore: You know, more than 100 years ago, Upton Sinclair wrote this, that "It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
Al Gore: What we take for granted might not be here for our children.
Al Gore: You see that pale, blue dot? That's us. Everything that has ever happened in all of human history, has happened on that pixel. All the triumphs and all the tragedies, all the wars all the famines, all the major advances... it's our only home. And that is what is at stake, our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization. I believe this is a moral issue, it is your time to seize this issue, it is our time to rise again to secure our future.
Al Gore: Should we prepare for other threats besides terrorists?
Al Gore: It takes time to connect the dots, I know that. But I also know that there can be a day of reckoning when you wish you had connected the dots more quickly.
Al Gore: I'm Al Gore, I used to be the next president of the United States of America.
[laughter and applause from audience]
Al Gore: I don't find that particularly funny.
Al Gore: I don't really consider this a political issue, I consider it to be a moral issue.
Al Gore: You look at that river gently flowing by. You notice the leaves rustling with the wind. You hear the birds; you hear the tree frogs. In the distance you hear a cow. You feel the grass. The mud gives a little bit on the river bank. It's quiet; it's peaceful. And all of a sudden, it's a gear shift inside you. And it's like taking a deep breath and going, "Oh yeah, I forgot about this."
Al Gore: Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, "What were our parents thinking? Why didn't they wake up when they had a chance?" We have to hear that question from them, now.
[Looking at a picture of a scientist observing a set of scales that hold the globe on one side and a stack of gold bars on the other]
Al Gore: We have here a scales that balances two different things. On one side, we have *gold* bars! Mmmmmm, don't they look good? I'd just like to have some of those gold bars. Mmmmm. On the other side of the scales... um... THE ENTIRE PLANET! Hmmmm...
[the audience laughs]
Al Gore: I think this is a false choice for two reasons: number one, if we don't *have* a planet...
Al Gore: The other reason is that, if we do the *right* thing, then we're gonna create a lot of wealth, and we're gonna create a lot of jobs, because doing the right thing moves us forward."
Al Gore: We can't sell our cars in China today because we don't meet the Chinese environmental standards.
George H.W. Bush: This guy is so far out in the environmental extreme, we'll be up to our neck in owls and outta work for every American. He is way out, far out, man.
Al Gore: If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen...
Al Gore: Here's Manhattan. This is the WTC memorial site. And after the horrible events of 9/11, we said, "Never again." But this is what would happen to Manhattan.
[animation shows how sea level rise would affect Manhattan, flooding the WTC site]
Al Gore: They can measure this precisely, just as the scientists could predict precisely how much water would breach the levees in New Orleans. The area where the WTC Memorial is to be located would be underwater.
Al Gore: If we accept that this problem is real, maybe it's just too big to do anything about. And, you know, there are a lot of people who go straight from denial to despair without pausing on the intermediate step of actually doing something about the problem.
Al Gore: Ultimately, this question comes down to this. Are we, as Americans, capable of doing great things even though they are difficult? Are we capable of rising above ourselves and above history? Well, the record indicates that we do have that capacity. We formed a nation, we fought a revolution, and brought something new to this earth, a free nation guaranteeing individual liberty. America made a moral decision that slavery was wrong, and that we could not be half free and half slave. We, as Americans, decided that of course women should have the right to vote. We defeated totalitarianism and won a war in the Pacific and the Atlantic simultaneously. We desegregated our schools. And we cured fearsome diseases like polio. We landed on the moon! The very example of what's possible when we are at our best. We worked together in a completely bipartisan way to bring down communism. We have even solved a global environmental crisis before, the hole in the stratospheric ozone layer. This was said to be an impossible problem to solve, because it's a global environmental challenge requiring cooperation from every nation in the world. But we took it on. And the United States took the lead in phasing out the chemicals that caused that problem. So now we have to use our political processes in our democracy, and then decide to act together to solve those problems. But we have to have a different perspective on this one. It's different from any problem we have ever faced before.
Al Gore: I went up to the North Pole. I went under that ice cap in a nuclear submarine that surfaced through the ice like this.
[a clip of the submarine surfacing is shown]
Al Gore: Since they started patrolling in 1957, they have gone under the ice and measured with their radar looking upwards to measure how thick it is, because they can only surface in areas where it's three and a half feet thick or less. So they have kept a meticulous record, and they wouldn't release it because it was national security. I went up there in order to persuade them to release it, and they did. And here's what that record shows. Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the Arctic ice cap. It has diminished by 40% in 40 years. And there are now two major studies showing that within the next 50 to 70 years, in summertime it will be completely gone. Now, you might say "Why is that a problem?", and "How could the Arctic ice cap actually melt so quickly?". When the sun's rays hit the ice, more than 90% of it bounces off right back into space like a mirror. But when it hits the open ocean, more than 90% is absorbed. And so, as the surrounding water gets warmer, it speeds up the melting of the ice. Right now, the Arctic ice cap acts like a giant mirror. All the sun's rays bounce off, more than 90%. It keeps the Earth cooler. But as it melts, and the open ocean receives that sun's energy instead, more than 90% is absorbed. So there is a faster buildup of heat here, at the North Pole, in the Arctic Ocean, and the Arctic generally, than anywhere else on the planet. That's not good for creatures like polar bears who depend on the ice. A new scientific study shows that, for the first time, they're finding polar bears that have actually drowned, swimming long distances, up to 60 miles, to find the ice. And they didn't find that before. But what does it mean to us? To look at a vast expanse of open water at the top of our world that used to be covered by ice. We ought to care a lot, because it has planetary effects.
Al Gore: If we use more efficient electricity appliances, we can save this much off of the global warming pollution that would otherwise be put into the atmosphere. If we use other end-use efficiency, this much. If we have higher mileage for cars, this much. And all these begin to add up. Other transport efficiency, renewable technology, carbon capture and sequestration. A big solution that you're gonna be hearing a lot more about. They all add up, and pretty soon we are below our 1970 emissions.
Al Gore: We have the ability to do this. Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each of us can make choices to change that. With the things we buy, the electricity we use, the cars we drive, we can make choices to bring our individual carbon emissions to zero. The solutions are in our hands. We just have to have the determination to make them happen. Are we gonna be left behind as the rest of the world moves forward?
[on the screen behind him, a list of countries appears]
Al Gore: All of these nations have ratified Kyoto. There are only two advanced nations in the world that have not ratified Kyoto, and we are one of them. The other is Australia.
[on the screen, a map of the United States is shown]
Al Gore: Luckily, several states are taking the initiative. The nine northeastern states have banded together on reducing CO2. Uh, California and Oregon are taking the initiative. Pennsylvania is exercising leadership on solar power and wind power. And U.S. cities are stepping up to the plate.
[on the screen, a list of cities appears, to applause]
Al Gore: One after the other, we have seen all of these cities pledge to take on global warming.
Al Gore: I've probably given this slideshow a thousand times. I would say at least a thousand times. Nashville to Knoxville to Aspen and Sundance. Los Angeles and San Francisco. Portland, Minneapolis. Boston, New Haven, London, Brussels, Stockholm, Helsinki, Vienna, Munich, Italy and Spain and China, South Korea, Japan. I guess the thing I've spent more time on than anything else in this slideshow is trying to identify all those things in people's minds that serve as obstacles to them understanding this. A-And whenever I feel like I've identified an obstacle, I try to take it apart, roll it away. Move it. Demolish it, blow it up. I set myself a goal. Communicate this real clearly. The only way I know to do it is city by city, person by person, family by family. And I have faith that pretty soon, enough minds are changed that we cross a... a threshold.
Al Gore: We have everything, save perhaps political will. But in America, I believe political will is a renewable resource.