Reddit, who previously snagged the President of the United States for one of its Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, has just capped off another interesting Q&A. This time, the guest was former Vice President Al Gore.
As would be expected, Gore fielded a variety of questions regarding climate change, energy sources, and his failed 2000 Presidential bid.
Here are some of the best questions and his responses:
Are you in favor of nuclear energy as a possible energy alternative for the future?
It will play a role, but probably a limited role. I think the waste issue can probably be solved, and Fukushima notwithstanding, the safety of operation issue an pobably be solved. But the cost is absurdly high and still rising. Moreover, if we model it as the path forward, and encourage developing countries to head down that road, we would create a massive security challenge.
During the eight years I worked in the White House, every single nuclear proliferation threat we had to deal with was connected to a reactor program. The technologies are different, but if you are the dictator of a country that has a reactor program and a fuel cycle, you can secretly orde the same people to enrich the fuel to weapons-grade over time and build bombs. Bad outcome. New reactor designs hold promise but they are all at least 15 years away. Meanwhile, solar pv is riding a “Moore’s Law Jr.” costdown curve. Wind and efficiency too, though not as steep. We need to get to scale on renewables quickly and make the transition.
For people that may be skeptical about global warming, what is the one undeniable scientific fact that you feel backs it up the most effectively?
There are at least 15 deeply researched separate lines of evidence that all confirm man-made global warming. They are all consistent, each with the others. Every National Academy of Science on the planet agrees with the consensus. The Academies describe the evidence as “indisputable”. Every professional scientific society in every field related to climate science and earth science also agree. And 97-98% of climate scientists worldwide most actively publishing also agree. Animals and plants also agree — in that they are moving their ranges by latitude and altitude to find climate niches similar to the ones in which they evolved.
Even if you leave climate science completely out of it and just measure extreme temperatures, the statistical record of global temperatures shows that three-standard deviation events have increased from 0.25% of the time (from 1951-1980) to 10% of the time now. There is as strong a consensus as you will find in science, with the possible exception of the existence of gravity.
On internet infrastructure…
Our national information infrastructure is no longer competitive. We need to invest in more bandwidth, easier access, and the rapid transition of our democratic institutions to the internet. And we need to protect the freedom of the internet against corporate control by legacy businesses that see it as a threat, and against the obscene invasions of privacy and threats to security from government and corporations alike. Please think about this: almost everytime there has been a choice between privacy/security on the one hand and convenience on the other, the mass of folks have chosen convenience. I for one believe the “stalker economy” on the internet is undemocratic and anti- American. Are folks at the gag point on this yet? Thanks, btw, to the Reddit community for fighting off Sopa and PIPA. Keep your powder dry; more big struggles ahead.
On advice to President Obama dealing with partisan roadblocks…
Stand on principle. As Mark Twain said, “Do the right thing! You’ll ratify your friends and astonish your enemies.” Start with climate.
I understand you and Tommy Lee Jones were roomates in college. What was he like?
He is, first of all, a terrific friend. He really is an amazing guy. As good at directing as at acting, btw. Check out his performance in Spielberg’s Lincoln. Incredible! I hope he gets another Oscar for it. I’m biased, but I sure think he deserves it.
Some years ago you were asked if you thought the 2000 election was stolen. You said: “There may come a time when I speak on that, but it’s not now; I need more time to frame it carefully if I do. In our system, there’s no intermediate step between a definitive Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.” Are you ready to address that question now?
I haven’t ruled out addressing that at some point in my life, but no, I don’t believe now is the time to do it, if that time ever comes.