SXSW 2015: Al Gore gives us a mission

sxsw Al goreWe knew Al Gore would scare the bejesus out of us at this morning’s feature presentation, The Climate Crisis: Challenge & Opportunity. But he had a mission in mind.

Gore updated the SXSW Interactive audience on the state of the climate since his initial talk, “An Inconvenient Truth,” the 2006 film that shook people awake with a surprisingly dramatic slide show about the dangers of carbon-dioxide emissions. It hasn’t gotten much better. In fact, in recent years, all of the disastrous predictions of his film have come true.

We learned that 90 percent of the heat energy from global warming goes into the ocean, which cover 70 percent of the planet. And that warmer temperatures increase water vapor in the air; and since the air is warmer, too, it retains more of that water vapor. Gore says there’s been a 4 percent increase in humidity all over the world.

With all that water vapor in the air, there are giant “flying rivers” flowing through the atmosphere, until a “drain” forms and all the vapor dumps to the earth. We saw slide after slide of flooding events across the world from the past few years.

But with downpours come droughts, and with droughts come drying vegetation and wildfires (which we know all-too well in Central Texas). Wildfires, drought and flooding can threaten economies and threaten countries already one the brink of chaos — and that threatens all of us.

Can we do something about it?

Yes, Gore recommended a few things:

1. Sign a petition that can put pressure on lawmakers.
2. Choose with your wallet and don’t purchase carbon-doxiide products.
3. Speak up and let others hear how you feel about climate change.

“We are winning this. We are going to prevail,” says Gore.

“Big idea” talks by news celebrities are common at SXSW, but Gore’s was also full of hope. He pointed out that developing countries are taking the lead in adapting alternative sources of energy, like solar power. And he talked about putting a price on the “denial industry” and how politicians are becoming less willing to pay. Gore specifically called upon the attendees of SXSW to make this cause their mission.

It was a powerful way to launch the conference, and attendees left inspired.





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