Climate change deniers should be punished in the eyes of former Vice President Al Gore, saying Friday that politicians who reject "accepted science" should pay the price for their ignorance.
Gore, an active environmental activist, spoke out about the current climate crisis at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, pointing out that many smart investors are increasingly focusing on renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels - a practice notorious for generating heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
"We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends," Gore told the Chicago Tribune. "And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics."
It's no secret that scientists and the public can't agree when it comes to climate change. Despite the fact that a multitude of studies have tied climate change to everything from disappearing Arctic ice and California's ongoing drought to the world's dying honeybee population, there are still those who would deny its irreversible impacts.
"We have this denial industry cranked up constantly," Gore said. "In addition to 99 percent of the scientists and all the professional scientific organizations, now Mother Nature is weighing in."
After his defeat to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, Gore has made a name for himself by focusing on climate change issues. He is behind the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which helped to bring the effects of global warming to light. (Scroll to read on...)
And at the SXSW festival, he made his sentiments on the topic known. During a one and a half hour presentation, Gore highlighted past extreme weather events, which may have been caused by human activities. He also linked violence in the Middle East, including the Syrian War, with the current climate change situation. Warming temperatures led to a nationwide drought, the worst Syria has ever seen, which ravaged the region from 2006-2010 and destroyed the agricultural industry, driving farmers to poverty-stricken cities and exacerbating political unrest.
Gore even gave a nod to Pope Frances, who has been outspoken about his concern with our warming planet, and recently called upon all Christians to address the problem. His Holiness is expected to release a document on climate change in around June or July this year.
"I'm not a Catholic," Gore said, "but I could be persuaded to become one."
The former VP also revealed numerous facts about global warming and the steps taken thus far to reduce global carbon emissions. Bangladesh, for one, is feverishly working to install solar panels on building rooftops, while Dubai's state utility has accepted a bid for a solar power plant.
Perhaps more importantly, two major world powers, China and the United States, have joined in the fight against climate change. They came up with plans to slash coal pollution from power plants by the year 2020 and 2030, respectively. In addition, China also declared it would make significant cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions.
These are just some worldwide efforts being made to lessen our impact on the planet, but making a difference on the environment starts with just one person. SXSW brings together designers, developers, investors, entrepreneurs and politicians for several days of talk about technology, innovation and the future, and Gore hopes that this tech-minded crowd will use their know-how to spread the word about climate change (whether it's via online petitions or social media).
The general public's interest in climate change has been demonstrated in large part as a fleeting fad, however, Gore hopes that his appearance at SXSW will help to promote the war against climate change and pressure those who claim that climate change is not an issue.
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