Al Gore @ TED2016: the case for optimism on climate change

“After the final ‘no,’ there comes a ‘yes,’ and on that ‘yes’, the future world depends.” – Wallace Stevens

In this talk, Al Gore presents 3 questions on our stance towards climate change:

  1. Do we really need to change? The answer takes most of the talk. It is for the most part the same tone about the brutal consequences of human activity. Three statements caught my attention:
    • The energy trapped due to the greenhouse effect is equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs every 24 hours (2:00)
    • The Syrian drought in 2006-2010 destroyed 60% of their farms. 1.5 million people had to move to the cities at the same time another 1.5 million moved in as refugees from the Iraq War, with catastrophic geopolitical consequences (8.00)
    • On December 29, 2015 the north pole was 50 degrees warmer than average and above the freezing point causing a partial thaw (9.55)
  2. Can we change? Here his tone changes to one of hope, offering many examples of exponential growth in utilization of renewable energy across the world. He discussed the economics of the change and the key role of the private sector.
  3. Will we change? As soon as the question is presented (17:57), Al Gore starts to transform, increasing the energy of his delivery that climaxes starting at 19:56 with one of the best closings I have seen.

“When any great moral challenge is ultimately resolved into a binary choice between what is right and what is wrong, the outcome is fore-ordained because of who we are as human beings.” – Al Gore

In less than 90 seconds he changed everything into a moral issue for every single person in the room, told us how our basic nature would make the decision a natural one, and gave us a call for action and the energy to execute it. 

This is, in my opinion, what public speaking is truly about.

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