For those of you who don’t follow my Doom and Bloom blog, I had quite a treat in late August. I traveled to San Francisco to take part in a program of the Climate Reality Project, the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.
The Climate Reality Project was founded by Al Gore, culminating from his “Inconvenient Truth” documentary from 2008. This is his ongoing effort to tell the truth about climate change — in a way that inspires action, not depression.
In other words, bloom, not doom.
I was one of a thousand trainees from 58 countries who gathered at a green-conscious Hyatt Regency to learn the “Inconvenient Truth” power point — this most up-to-date version connects our recent extreme weather with climate change science.
How did I get selected? By filling out a simple form. The fact that I am editor of this magazine may have helped me win a spot, but the backgrounds of the attendees were so diverse, from the expert to the novice (I am somewhere in between), that I can’t help but think the Project people were seeking diversity as much as anything else.
Regardless, I am thrilled I went, for all that I learned and for all I will learn.
More on Gore
When I told my colleague David Hoppe about this training, he told me he’d seen Gore describe climate change — an early version of documentary — in 1990 on a chalkboard! Hoppe recalls he was blown away by Gore’s grasp of carbon’s impact on climate change, and I have to say I was a bit skeptical going into the conference.
I remember the controversies coming out of the documentary’s release. I remember the complaints about his personal carbon footprint, the massive home, the idling SUV. And I remember my frustration watching him debate George Bush on TV, his stiffness.
Day two of the event, Gore took center stage in the morning and held forth — other than a few breaks — into the early evening. It was a tour de force as he was self-deprecating, impassioned, hilarious, concise and rational. He was anything but stiff, and I don’t know his current carbon footprint, but he is more than making up for it with his efforts to drive home reality regarding our climate crisis.
I know it’s been popular for some time to trash Gore, but I will not check my trashing at the door.
Reality “R” us
So now I am a trained Climate Leader, armed with a constantly evolving slideshow presentation. By the time this issue is in your hands, I will be fully engaged in delivering it. I hope that you will invite me to come to your school or organization or club.
But I warn you that the main point I took away from this conference is that it is time to move beyond the debate about climate change.
It’s real. It’s happening. The rest of the world “gets it.” And it’s worsening — to the tune of 90 million tons of global warming pollutants emitted, planet wide, every day.
We can respectfully disagree about many things — say, the role of government in addressing the problem — but 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and it is happening because of human activities, mostly from carbon emissions associated with fossil fuels.
To quote the mission of the training I took, Climate Leaders like me are “dedicated to educating people about the urgency and solvability of the climate crisis at a grassroots level worldwide.”
Let’s grasp the reality and get to work — and let the power point adventures begin.