Wow! Astonishing, given the doom and gloom assessment of most prognosticators who dare to place climate change in their crosshairs. And perhaps Gore’s assessment is strategic: the more we think we will prevail, the more energy we have to make sure we do. And it’s true: hopelessness can lead to lethargy, futility, a passive going-down-with-the-ship pessimism, or else a selfish, grab-whatever-you-can-while-you-can hedonism. In any case, I am grateful for Gore’s wide-ranging experience and comprehension of at least some of the factors responsible for climate change, and I applaud both his point of view and his reasoning from precedents, showing that we humans have made many changes in the past, much more quickly and thoroughly than expected. Here’s a review of the article, in grist.org.
Here’s the original article, in Rolling Stone, July 3-17, 2014 issue.
For those (including me) who are surprised at the speed with which this impending transition has been accelerating, there are precedents that help explain it. Remember the first mobile-telephone handsets? I do; as an inveterate “early adopter” of new technologies, I thought those first huge, clunky cellphones were fun to use and looked cool (they look silly now, of course). In 1980, a few years before I bought one of the early models, AT&T conducted a global market study and came to the conclusion that by the year 2000 there would be a market for 900,000 subscribers. They were not only wrong, they were way wrong: 109 million contracts were active in 2000. Barely a decade and a half later, there are 6.8 billion globally. These parallels have certainly caught the attention of the fossil-fuel industry and its investors: Eighteen months ago, the Edison Electric Institute described the floundering state of the once-proud landline-telephone companies as a grim predictor of what may soon be their fate.