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Al Gore continues to build an army, battle climate change denial 

click to enlarge 'The No. 1 threat to the global economy is climate change.' - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • 'The No. 1 threat to the global economy is climate change.'

Following news of the Trump administration's call to trim one-fifth of the Environmental Protection Agency's staff, former Vice President Al Gore descended on Denver last week to co-conduct his Climate Reality Project's 34th Leadership Corps Training. Some 1,000 international guests attended.

Gore, Climate Reality Leadership Corps' founder and chairman, devotes around eight hours of his star power at each free, three-day workshop, says President and CEO Ken Berlin, summing up Climate Reality Leadership Corps' mission as working internationally "to build public support for addressing climate change." How that's done here, he says, is by teaching policy to people who commit to "10 acts of leadership" around "positive climate change action" and instructing them on "how to be organizers, how to go back to their communities and be leaders on this issue."

The nonprofit runs offices in Washington, D.C., and Boulder, and in 10 countries outside the U.S. In response to the election, Berlin says Climate Reality Leadership Corps is transitioning from concentration on federal matters: "The greater chance of progress is going to be on a state level."

Still, during a two-hour slide show March 2, Gore plugged an April 29 climate march in D.C., saying, "We all need to go to it. I will be there, we need to demonstrate people power, and we need to get active."

Watching him speak felt just like watching 2006's Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth, which in late July of this year will be succeeded by An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. However, Gore did tailor many slides particularly for a Colorado audience. He made note of both the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires (noting longer and more intense fire seasons) and Manitou Springs flooding, as well as Lamar's wild 2013 haboob, Fountain's 2014 tumbleweed invasion and the sad status of the Colorado River and pine and bark beetle infestations in our forests.

From there, he went national and global with a list of 1-in-1,000-year weather events, detailing everything from "rain bombs" that dump tremendous water volumes rapidly to lethal heat waves that have literally melted streets in India. Then there's the stat about the rate of global warming being equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs dropped daily. Oh, and climate-driven political destabilization such as Syria's drought, plus food shortages that kicked off The Arab Spring.

But before attendees could tire of melting glacier and iceberg images or the phrase "point of no return," Gore took a turn for the positive, championing many worldwide successes. One particularly hopeful slide read: "We expect innovation and global markets, rather than politics, to continue to be the primary driver for growth in low-carbon technologies. In our view, prices for batteries and solar panels will continue to drop, and global market-share gains will continue for wind, solar, EVs and LEDs, regardless of who occupies the White House."

Over the weekend, Gore announced that Colorado State University has taken Climate Reality Leadership Corps' 100% Committed pledge to move fully to renewable electricity in the coming years, making it the largest university to do so, to date.

He concluded his talk on both a somber and upbeat note, saying, "This climate movement is right in the tradition of the great moral causes that have led to a better world for all of us. ... Every single one of those movements was met with no after no after no, until finally, when all the underbrush was cleared away, and it was resolved into a simple choice between what's right and what's wrong, then the outcome became foreordained. ... just remember the will to change is itself a renewable resource."

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