What's After Paris?

Gore ParisLast week, Al Gore reflected on the ten years since he founded The Climate Reality Project. Following is an excerpt from an email he sent to the Climate Reality Leaders he trained.

Ten years ago, I trained the first group of Climate Reality Leaders in my barn in Carthage, Tenn. I asked them to join me in spreading the word about the urgency of the climate crisis, and I was impressed by the commitment and passion they demonstrated. I’m even more impressed now as the work they’ve done in their own communities and beyond has helped to spark a global movement for action on climate change.

In the decade since that first group came together, I’ve trained more than 10,000 Climate Reality Leaders who are just as committed to making the world a better place for future generations. The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is active in more than 130 countries around the world and represents people from all backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve enjoyed working alongside teachers, scientists, community leaders, business owners, students, and so many others who all share a dedication to promoting solutions to the climate crisis.

Ten years of concerted action by the Climate Reality Leadership Corps came together last year when 195 countries committed to working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions planet-wide as part of the Paris Agreement. Now, it’s time for us to continue our work together and push countries to strengthen and implement their commitments so we can make the promise of Paris a reality.

Even as we look to the future, I want to make sure we take a moment to appreciate the last 10 years and all of the amazing work that you’ve done to help share the truth about the science and solutions of climate change with your friends, family members, colleagues, and everyone else.

I want to thank each and every one of you for what you’ve done in your own communities to bring attention to the most important issue of our time.

It is easier to play a role in the global effort to mitigate the causes of global warming and climate change when thousands of others are doing the same thing, each in their own way. That’s been my personal benefit from The Climate Reality Project.

I joined in Chicago (August 2013) and have no regrets. I learned the story behind Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, and the science behind it. Gore presented a broad mix of information about what is happening in our environment because of global warming and how it impacts communities.

Since then, I’ve presented my story to individuals and groups in the area and seek opportunities to do more. I served as a mentor at the Cedar Rapids training last year and have written about the need to act on climate change in my blogs, and in letters to the editor of our local newspaper. When I worked as a freelance correspondent, climate change informed my world-view and was a context in which I framed stories whether they were about farming or forestry, the school board or city council, or about new business openings or individual achievements.

Talking about global warming and climate change has become part of my life.

If the Paris agreement was the culmination of ten years of work, as Gore said it was, the work is not finished.

With a sharp focus on identifying the impact on our climate of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, Gore and many allies made the point about seeking alternatives. As solar and wind-generated electricity reach price parity with fossil fuels (and they are doing so faster than anyone imagined) the coal industry is in disarray and nuclear power is waning.

There is a cloud on the hopeful horizon of renewable energy. Buoyed by exploration and discovery of oil and shale gas reserves, companies like British Petroleum, once green washing us with their interest in renewables, divested their interests in solar and wind energy this decade to focus on oil and gas.

I predict declining prices of solar power will help it dominate the future of municipal and regional electricity generation. Already companies like Central Iowa Power Company (CIPCO) are changing their tune. Not so long ago they were promoting nuclear power at their annual shareholder’s meeting. Today, they are building solar arrays.

If there is a blind spot in Gore’s laser focus on burning fossil fuels it is the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from other sources. He acknowledges them, but they have not taken the spotlight. There’s work to be done regarding manufacturing, agriculture, mining and other aspects of our industrialized global economy.

Every time I talk to an Iowa farmer Gore’s work can be heard in the conversation. Not so much from me, but from farmers. They’ll tell you the hydrology cycle seems different even if they dislike Al Gore and don’t acknowledge it is related to global warming. They don’t have to and I don’t need ratification of my own beliefs.

Like so many others I am focused on the work of mitigating the causes of climate change. You may not know it, but it is baked into everything I do.

What have you done lately to create a better environment for all of us to enjoy?

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