When Al Gore and the U.N. climate panel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, Gore's push to solve the climate crisis received even more media attention. I'm familiar with An Inconvenient Truth and Al Gore in general, but I hadn't seen his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Like most public appearances by Gore these days, the speech is honest, moving, and truly compelling. In the course of his speech, Gore invokes Alfred Nobel, Winston Churchill, George Orwell, Robert Frost, Mahatma Ghandi, Cordell Hull, Antonio Machado, Henrik Ibsen, and the Cold War-era threat of Nuclear Winter, declaring, "We are in danger of creating a permanent Carbon Summer." Here's an excerpt from the speech:
We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer. They can and do help. But they will not take us far enough without collective action. At the same time, we must ensure that in mobilizing globally, we do not invite the establishment of ideological conformity and a new lock-step "ism."
That means adopting principles, values, laws, and treaties that release creativity and initiative at every level of society in multifold responses originating concurrently and spontaneously.
This new consciousness requires expanding the possibilities inherent in all humanity. The innovators who will devise a new way to harness the sun's energy for pennies or invent an engine that's carbon negative may live in Lagos or Mumbai or Montevideo. We must ensure that entrepreneurs and inventors everywhere on the globe have the chance to change the world.
When we unite for a moral purpose that is manifestly good and true, the spiritual energy unleashed can transform us. The generation that defeated fascism throughout the world in the 1940s found, in rising to meet their awesome challenge, that they had gained the moral authority and long-term vision to launch the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and a new level of global cooperation and foresight that unified Europe and facilitated the emergence of democracy and prosperity in Germany, Japan, Italy and much of the world. One of their visionary leaders said, "It is time we steered by the stars and not by the lights of every passing ship."