16 things Al Gore said at the Wang

Al Gore, our Oscar-winning, Nobel Peace Prize-champ former vice president, spoke tonight as part of “The Minds That Move the World” speaker series at Boston's Wang Theatre. He called on people to work to end carbon dioxide emissions to head off rising sea levels and other disasters of global warming. He also touched on the state of democracy, the economic crisis, and President Barack Obama’s progress. Here are some things he said:

• “The Maldives, one of those low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, put a new line item into its budget this year: fund to buy a new country. Literally.”
• “Some of these changes are preprogrammed into the climate because of what we’ve already done. And some adaptation will be necessary. But, ladies and gentlemen, we cannot acquiesce in the face of this crisis.”
• “If we stopped turning up the earth’s thermostat the [melting] polar ice cap would probably come back – not in our lifetime, or our children’s lifetimes, but in our grandchildren’s lifetimes.”
• “We have got to take action. Here is the good news: The solutions to the climate crisis are the same things to solve the economic crisis and  the security crisis.”
• “We ought to set a goal of getting 100 percent renewable energy in 10 years and if we put our minds to it we can get it done.”

• “Our democracy has suffered some damage. And I think that the reliance on 30 second ads, and the dominance of big money in politics that is driven in part by the reliance on those 30 second ads, has really done some damage to the democratic process.”
• “The average American watches television four and a half hours a day. Think about it. If you played tennis four and a half hours a day, you’d really develop your muscles. If you’re watching television four and a half hours a day what muscles are you developing? Certainly not the democracy muscle.”
• “I remember in January ’93 when Bill Clinton and I entered the White House t here were 50 sites on the Internet. Five-oh.”
• “I don’t think there’s any position that has the ability to bring about more change than the position of the president.”
• “Where the new [Obama] administration is concerned, let’s take a breath and realize he’s been in there two months. He didn’t create this.”
•  “I hear people criticize [Obama] for trying to do too much. I don’t share that. I have been in the White House and I’ve seen how the dynamics can work. He’s got a window of opportunity right now.”

• “We need to create jobs. One of the best way to do this is to put people to work insulating houses, putting in energy-efficient windows, planting trees … These jobs can’t be outsourced. This is the best way to solve the economic crisis.”
• “There’s going to be in this generation the most massive shift in energy production in history. And it’s going to create jobs.”
• “Martin Luther King, Jr., said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Increased CO2 emissions anywhere represent a threat to human civilization everywhere.”
• “If [our descendents] see all around them the unfolding of the unprecedented tragedies the scientists were predicting they’ll have every right to look back and say: ‘What where they thinking?’ … If they look around them and see a world in renewal … I want them to look back and say: ‘How did they rise up and find the courage to solve this crisis?’”
• “There’s an old African saying: If you want to go quickly go alone; if you want to go far go together. We need to go far quickly.”

Photos by Greg Cook.

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