PODCAST: Al Gore, on "Our Choice" [MP3]

Al Gore speaks at Harvard Square's First Parish Church

Standing before a sea of green-leaning Cambridge liberals (who would later scoff heartily at the suggestion that the average person watches roughly 5 hours of TV per day), Al Gore announced: "My own personal journey on the issue of the climate crisis began here in Cambridge 42 years ago, when I walked into the classroom of Roger Revelle." Gore's former Harvard prof, a pioneer of global-warming research, is often credited as the "grandfather of the greenhouse effect"; Gore described his long-term studies of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere as "one of the most important scientific undertakings in the history of human civilization." Revelle "opened my eyes to what this was all about," he added. "So it is a homecoming for me each time I come back to this city."

Though the topic was dire, Gore’s Saturday talk devoted to his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, at Harvard Square's First Parish Church was not a totally doom-and-gloom-filled one. Gore told us that, "unlike an Inconvenient Truth, which focused about 85% on the causes and impacts and the nature of the crisis," Our Choice is "about 99% on the solutions themselves." A hopeful message, but we weren't out of the (increasingly deforested, soot-blackened) inconvenient-truth woods just yet. Before guiding us through his book, Gore rattled off a few grim stats:

-Every 24 hours, we're pumping 90 million tons of CO2 into the "thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet."
-More than 25 million of those tons go into the ocean daily, where they become carbonic acid that is now so prevalent that it has actually changed the ocean's acidity levels, interrupting the process of reef formation.
-In almost every case, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change find that environmental damages are either at or above their "worst-case projection" scenarios.

Focusing on a wide array of environmental ills, Gore's Our Choice intro originally spanned 17 pages. This, he managed to compress into one page, with a single line devoted to each of his spotlighted impacts. And though he insisted that he's "not a poet," this intro (which he read aloud) coulda fooled us:

One thin September soon, a floating continent disappears in midnight sun. Vapors rise, as fever settles on an acid sea. Neptune's bones dissolve. Snow glides from the mountain. ... A hard rain comes quickly. Then dirt is parched. Kindling is placed in the forest for the lightning celebration. Unknown creatures take their leave, unmourned. Horsemen ready their stirrups. Passion seeks heroes and friends. The bell of the city on the hill is rung. The shepherd cries. The hour of choosing has arrived. Here are your tools.

Hear a swift rundown of these tools -- from wind farms to a "smart supergrid" -- at the MP3 link below. "We really do have the tools and technology to solve three or four energy crises," Gore assured us. "And the good news is, we only have to solve one."

DOWNLOAD: Al Gore at the First Parish Church [MP3]

Recorded live at a Harvard Book Store-organized reading at the First Parish Church on November 7, 2009. To subscribe to this podcast, use this RSS feed or bookmark the Boston Phoenix podcast blog.

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