by Abby Schantz
In the New York Times article, “The New Optimism,” published on March 16th, 2015, John Schwartz explains a change in action by Al Gore regarding climate change. Gore has a long list of achievements; former vice president of the United Sates, environmental activist, and investor. He is also the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, including his Academy Award winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” These efforts have focused on showing the magnitude of the problem of climate change, instilling concern for the issue around the globe. Recently, however, his viewpoint has transformed to cast a more optimistic light saying, “We’re going to win this.” Gore uses the history of cellphones as an analogy to changing energy sources. In 1980, AT&T estimated that 900,000 cellphones would be sold by 2000. In fact, 109 million were sold by 2000 and, by- today, around 7 billion. Gore says the mis-estimation was due to the rapid increase in technology and decrease in costs, which turned giant blocks (old cellphones) into miniature computers (new cellphones). This same trend is apparently holding true in renewable energy. In 2000, it was predicted that worldwide wind-generated energy would reach 30 gigawatts. In fact, wind generated energy reached 200 gigawatts by 2010 and by 2014 it was nearly 370. In 2002, it was estimated that by 2010, one new gigawatt per year would be added by solar power. In fact, the amount was seventeen times higher in 2010 and, by 2014, fifty-eight times higher. The statistics continue to support Gore’s claim. Two homes install rooftop solar panels every minute in Bangladesh, and Dubai’s state utility is building a solar power panel which will cost less than six cents per kilowatt-hour, less than almost anyone pays anywhere. To aid the rapid growth, Gore is working on spreading the word through training programs. Gore presents 164 slides on climate change over the course of eight and a half hours, accepts questions from scientists throughout the presentation and then has the newly educated create local forms of the presentation to help educate their local communities. Al Gore also demonstrates the possibilities for home renovation through his own house, which has 32 solar panels, insulating windows and LED lights. His driveway hosts 10 geothermal wells and all of his electricity comes from a utility plant that generates power from wind and solar sources. To Gore, winning the fight against climate change is possible, it is just a matter of time. His biggest obstacle, his former political persona. To democrats, Gore is a great symbol of change, bringing many on board. But to conservatives, he is working to “undercut the scientific consensus on the human role in global warming”. As Gore works to educate people on climate change, he is constantly reminding conservatives of his past as one of the most divisive political leaders.
Schwartz, J., 2015. The New Optimism of Al Gore. The New York Times, March 16th, 2015.