1983: Al Gore on Climate Change
December 20, 2015
Lost opportunities. Remember when politicians believed in science?
SOUTH PORTLAND — Twenty-five springs ago, U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell of Maine put the finishing touches on a book called “World on Fire,” subtitled “Saving an Endangered Earth.” Mitchell had worked extensively on amendments to the Clean Air Act since he joined the Senate in 1980 and now, as majority leader he’d just completed months of negotiating to get a reauthorized Clean Air Act through the Senate.
The book, which addressed what Mitchell called “the gathering environmental tragedy,” sent out a clarion call on the dire ways the Earth’s climate was changing, from rising tides caused by climate change to the hole in the ozone layer and acid rain destroying lakes.
Q: How long has it been since you looked at “World on Fire”?
A: After you called me, I skimmed through it to refamiliarize myself with it so I have a general recollection of what is in it. But I haven’t reread the whole thing.
Q: Did anything surprise you? So many of the predictions you made have come true, from the statistical, like what the population of China would be today, or the broader, such as how the oceans would be rising.
A: Honestly, to me the biggest surprise is that there are still those who believe, or who say they believe, that there is no such thing as global warming. It was clear to me 25 years ago and the evidence then was far less compelling or as overwhelming as it is now. I just can’t get over seeing these prominent public officials, some of them running for president, saying there is no such thing as global warming. And the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment (Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma) saying that global warming is a hoax and a conspiracy.
I could and did understand people who said that 25 years ago, who challenged me and the assertions made in that book, because the evidence was not as clear then. But the events of the last quarter-century have validated the view that the Earth is warming, that man-made activities are contributing to that warming. And that unless we, meaning the people of the world, human beings, take action to drastically slow down emissions, that there will be severe and in some cases, catastrophic consequences for people all around the world.
I don’t think my predictions are 100 percent correct – some of them are more accurate than others – but I think largely what I anticipated would occur has occurred.… It isn’t any longer speculation. It is a reality.