Al Gore: It's not just about the planet

In a talk promoting his book, Al Gore looks for fixes beyond renewable energy and draws the link between environment, energy, and the economy.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Al Gore, a self-described "wanna-be geek," is on the road talking about solutions to multiple problems.

The former vice president gave a speech at the First Parish Cambridge Unitarian Universalist church here on Saturday to promote his latest book, "Our Choice." Whereas "An Inconvenient Truth" documented the reasons for global warming, his latest book is focused almost entirely on ways to address climate change, Gore said.

But don't expect only a discussion of solar, wind and biofuels. In outlining the contents of "Our Choice" on Saturday, Gore said he consulted hundreds of experts in different fields to develop a comprehensive approach. The book includes discussions on carbon-capturing farming practices, word population projections, social psychology, and the political challenges to cutting fossil fuel use.

Al Gore signing books after his talk at the First Parish Cambridge Unitarian Universalist church in Cambridge, Mass. Martin LaMonica/CNET

Rather than limit his remarks to climate change, Gore argued there are political and economic reasons to make a transition to a less-polluting society. "There is a common thread running through the discussion of climate, (national) security, and the economic crisis, and that is our ridiculous dependence on foreign oil and coal," he said.

The hundreds of billions of dollars a year the U.S. spends on importing foreign oil is one reason the military remains involved in the Middle East. It also undermines the country's finances, he said.

The economy, too, can be revived by developing emerging industries in the U.S. Among them are products and services to retrofit buildings to be more efficient; solar, wind, and enhanced geothermal power; a "super grid" that's able to transport solar and wind power efficiently; and plug-in electric cars.

"When put together, we have the tools and technologies to solve three or four climate crises," he said. "But the missing element is political will."

He predicted that the U.S. Senate will get a climate and energy bill through committee before the Copenhagen round of international climate negotiations next month. Despite the "odds and the pessimism," he said there is a chance for a binding political agreement from Copenhagen next month and a roadmap for a comprehensive treaty.

Gore said that an Internet-aided grass-roots movement is the way to influence political change on this issue.

 

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