Transcript: Thom and Heidi review Al Gore's Rose Garden event, Oct 25 2006
Al Gore spoke on "An Inconvenient Truth". Thom introduced the event. His big carry home message was that we're screwed if we don't do something fast and there are things we can do.
Thom and Heidi Tauber discuss Al Gore's presentation on "An Inconvenient Truth" in Portland 24 October 2006 on KPOJ
[Heidi] It was quite an eye-opener last night at the Rose Garden where Al Gore was speaking and you were introducing.
[Thom] It was a brilliant, brilliant presentation, wasn't it.
[Heidi] Ron was mesmerized.
[Thom] He hadn't seen it before?
[Heidi] No. I kept saying, 'I've got to go to bed'. Can we go?
[Thom] Yeah. This is my third time and I still thought it was amazing.
[Heidi] It was fascinating.
[Thom] Science junkie here…
You know I think the two, for our listeners who did not show up last night, first of all for those who did. Maybe for those who did, this might serve as a useful focusing or reminder, whatever, this is just my sharing my piece of it, my thought of it, you know, and feel to call, let us know what you thought, you know, about what happened last night.
But the big carry-home message for me last night, well there was obviously the first one which is, you know, we're screwed if we don't do something fast and there are things we can do. I mean, at the very end he came up with a list of things that we can do that we can take us all the way to where we were in 1970 which is when all the madness began and all of them were things that are not just within the range of existing technology; don't even require a more sophisticated approach to existing technology: simple stuff, right, very straightforward things.
But, so there was that, but the other two things that I thought were interesting were he quoted T S Eliot, from, I think it's from my favourite poem … "The Hollow Men … and he said between the intention and the act, there falls a shadow. He was talking about the difference between what actually needs to be done as a bare minimum on the one hand and the legislative solutions that are being discussed at the maximum. In other words, that the biggest and wildest and most enthusiastic and, and most aggressive legislative solution that can be even imagined in Washington DC right now does not begin to get close to the minimum, the bare minimum that has to be done. There's this giant gap between the two.
And in part this was in response to a question about, you know, are you going to run for president, and, and in part it was a response to, you know, what can we do to, you know, if I write a letter to my senator, there was a woman said, "I'm going to write a letter to my senator, you know, what should it say? What legislation should I support? And, you know, he basically said, you know, there is no legislation right now that's going to address this.
And he said 'What', these are my words obviously, 'what we need to do is wake up as many people as possible', and then he pointed out how every time that there has been a significant social change in the United States, whether it was the end of slavery, whether it was woman's suffrage, no matter what it was, that social change has come about not as result of politicians changing their mind or even as the result people changing in the minds of politicians; it's come about as a result of the people themselves becoming awakened and energized and the politicians - this is my old parade speech - and the politicians go 'Holy cow! There's a parade going down the street. I'd better get out in front of it and hoist a flag and call it my own.' And then the politicians will come.
When the people are out there, when the people are loud, when the people are speaking out, when the people are walking the walk, then the politicians will start talking the talk. And he said 'Therefore, rather than running for president', although he said, you know, of course he's been around this business long enough to know that he would never rule it out, but still, you know, I was standing 5 feet away from him and watching his body language and facial expressions very closely. It's very clear to me that he has no intention of running for president. None whatsoever.
[Heidi] Especially since he was very candid, or his candor about the current administration and his own, if you could call it failure, what happened in 2000. He was resolved, resigned, you know. I don't know if that's the right word, but he seemed to be very forthcoming about his own intentions without saying so. Am I wrong?
[Thom] I don't know.
[Heidi] About running for president.
[Thom] Oh, yeah. That's the point. And his main message was that what he's gonna do is he's going to create a thousand or more trainers, people all around the world, to do what he's doing, to take this slide show, to take this message out there and reach, and have each one of them reach, a hundred people or a thousand people. And if a thousand people reach a thousand people, that's a million people. And if that million people each reach, you know, a hundred people that's a hundred million or reach a thousand people that's a billion people. And if you can reach a billion people, basically, particularly in the developed world, you've reached all the decision makers.
And so he's creating the parade; that's what he's all about. And it became so obvious to me as he was talking toward the end, you know, in the question and answer session, I thought that was in some ways more illuminating than what preceded it, the presentation itself, in terms of, you know, what can be done, who can do it and frankly Al Gore's role in it himself. I was just really, really impressed.
I was impressed by the integrity of the guy, I was impressed by, you know, what a solid and decent human being he is, I was impressed by the information and as I said, this is the third time. I saw him last year when he came to Portland and did a very similar presentation. He's obviously updated it and he customizes it now for every city so, you know, if you went last year and you went this year you saw two slightly different presentations, and we saw the movie - Louise and I saw the movie.
[Heidi] Yes, and he also said a couple of times, "And this is not in the movie".
[Thom] Right. And so this was the third time that I'd seen it and it still moved me. I mean, it still reawakened me and this is three times in a year, in literally twelve months and I'm no dummy on the environment - I wrote a book on it, you know, that's sold a half a million copies and I've got a zillion amount of feedback about it. I wrote the book ten years ago, I traveled all around the world about that book, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight. I've given speeches in Perth and in Melbourne and Sydney and in London and in Frankfurt and cities all over the United States back, you know, ten years ago when I was talking about peak oil and talking about environment and global warming and environmental destruction. And even at that - this is not, you know, to pat myself on the head and say, "Gee, I'm some kind of super expert' or something, it's not - but I am part of a choir. I guess that's what I'm saying. And even as part of a choir, Al Gore blew me away last night. Just it was really, really impressive. It was so worth being there.
And beforehand when we were backstage I asked him if we could record any of it, you know, to share with our listeners and he said no, he said there's copyright issues and ownership issues and there's a movie and a book and all this stuff and he said it's like asking for the lawyers. Let's, we're not going to record anything. And which is such the shame because I know that, you know, some of you didn't have an opportunity to show up and I would love to share with you. But I guess all I can do is encourage you to go see the movie. He did say that there were, what was it, churches all over the country that were showing "An Inconvenient Truth?
[Paul] Yeah... And I think the DVD comes out, it it's not out now, it's coming out real soon like in the next week or two. [November 21 - ed.]
[Heidi] And some of the peace groups are as well.
[Thom] Yeah. This is essentially becoming a movement as much as anything else. But the bottom line is we have to do something and the something that we have to do before we do anything else is we have to wake up people to the fact that carbon in the atmosphere during every, you go back 600,000 years through the last seven cycles of flipping into and out of an ice age and the carbon dioxide goes from 200 parts per million up to 300 parts per million and it warms up and it goes back down to 200 parts per million and it cools off. It goes up to 300 parts per million and it warms up and that's been the cycle for 600,000 years as a result of getting closer and farther from the sun. You know, the deniers are right about that.
What they're not right about is that we are now at 400, we're approaching 500 parts per million parts for a million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and if things just keep on going the way they are we're going to be over 600 million parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere within 50 years, within 40 years, and that has never, ever, at least in the recorded history of the ice cores, I mean, perhaps if you go back 3 billion years. No, it would be, no, if you go back 300 million years to the carboniferous period - named the carboniferous period because it was so 'niferous' with carbon, right - if you go back then maybe you can find 600 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But, you know, life then was a very, very different.
[Heidi] 300 million years ago?
[Thom] Yeah, 300 or 400 million years ago. The planet was different, life was different. That before the dinosaurs.
[Heidi] I was just going to say, were we around?
[Thom] No, dinosaurs didn't emerge until 150 billion years ago and they died out 97 million years ago and we're talking long ago and far away. The planet is changing and it's changing as a result of human activity and we do have the means to do something about it. He also was outspoken about how marvelous it is that Portland is one of the leaders of this and that Ted Kulongoski has been one of the national leaders of this. God bless him.
[Heidi] That's exactly what I was going to go for, Thom, is that fact that he also put in a few digs to the current administration and the gubernatorial election coming up here in Oregon.