Al Gore, former US Vice President and Founder, The Climate Reality Project, spoke at the recently concluded 2016 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. According to him, the future of our planet looks very different today than it did when he last spoke on the TED stage nearly a decade ago.
Hope isn’t always easy. With global temperature records being broken month after month, rising seas off coastal cities like Miami causing “sunny day flooding,” droughts and wildfires destroying thousands of acres of forests, and more severe hurricanes and typhoons, many wonder how we’ll solve this planetary crisis in our lifetimes.
Here are a few reasons why we all should still have hope:
o In 2000, analysts projected the world would have 30 gigawatts of wind energy capacity installed by 2010. In 2015, the world passed this mark by 14.5 times!
o Experts also projected in 2002 that the world would install 1 gigawatt of solar power per year by 2010. Last year, we beat that figure by 58 times over. And this year, we are on track to exceed that prediction by 68 times over!
o The cost of solar energy has decreased 10 percent each year for the past 30 years, and we’re getting closer to grid parity in more and more markets around the world, which means solar power will soon cost less than electricity from fossil fuels in more and more places around the world!
Then there’s the Paris Agreement. In December, 195 nations reached a historic agreement at the UN’s 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris, to reduce carbon emissions and put us on a path to a sustainable future.
The Paris Agreement marked a turning point for the climate crisis movement and will have a positive impact on the health of people everywhere and the planet for generations to come.
The three ideas worth spreading from the talk by Al Gore, Chairman and Founder, The Climate Reality Project are:
- DO WE REALLY HAVE TO CHANGE?
The challenge came first. Each day, manmade greenhouse gas pollution traps the same amount of heat energy as would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs. This trapped heat is warming the oceans and increasing the water vapor and energy in our atmosphere, leading to stronger storms, more extreme floods, increasingly long droughts, and other results he characterized as “a nature hike through the Book of Revelations.”
- CAN WE CHANGE?
Fortunately, we’ve already started to change. Renewable energy is growing exponentially. In fact, its growth has significantly beaten expert projections time and time again. And the cost of solar energy has come down around 10 percent every year for the past 30 years. With all this expansion, the renewable energy transition could very well be the biggest business opportunity in the world right now.
- WILL WE CHANGE?
This question is up to us – all of us – right now. In December 2015, 195 countries approved the Paris Agreement on climate change and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was truly a breakthrough after decades of failed attempts. And around the world, from China to India to the US, countries are adding more and more capacity in renewable energy (in fact, 69 percent of new electrical capacity added in the US last year came from renewables). The change is happening – what’s up to us right now is how long we take to get there.