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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Al gore delivered speech on global warming to more than 9,000 people at the University of Oklahoma

Al gore delivered speech on global warming to more than 9,000 people at the University of Oklahoma
Gore warns of global warming crisis
NORMAN, Okla. — The former Vice President of the United States slowly descended the stairs of the Lloyd Noble Center amid every bit of fanfare the record-setting crowd could muster.
Many of the 9,000 were proud members of the You Tube generation eager to hear their green icon speak about the ever growing “global warming crisis.” They stood and cheered with one arm thrust in the air in an attempt to capture the moment on their cell phones and small digital cameras. It was a reception usually reserved for rock stars or celebrities, not presidential also rans.
But this was Al Gore, a longtime member of Congress, freshly minted Academy Award winner and the man who just might change the American way of life.
“This is the most dangerous crisis we have ever confronted,” the 45th vice president of the United States told Thursday's standing room only audience that exceeded the turnout for both former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. “This is a issue not like any other. We have to be a part of the answers.”
The University of Oklahoma welcomed Gore Wednesday as the featured speaker of the school’s day-long focus on global warming. The day began with OU faculty members David Deming, associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, and David Karoly, Williams chair and professor of meteorology presenting different global warming points of view in the Oklahoma Memorial Union. Gore followed his Lloyd Noble presentation with a dinner and discussion in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom of the Oklahoma Memorial Union.
Gore is not only a career politician. He also has been a strong supporter of environmental issues since his early days in the House and Senate. His books, “Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit” and “An Inconvenient Truth,” were national bestsellers. The latter was made into an award-winning documentary.
Gore also has been friends with OU President David L. Boren since their fathers served together as lawmakers in Washington D.C. Some of Gore’s Oklahoma family members attended Thursday’s gathering. Boren was excited to have Gore for a visit, but also to shed light on a growing environmental problem.
“Clearly, the issue of global warming is a major importance to our society and it is appropriate to have an understanding and broad-ranging discussion of the subject on the campus,” Boren said. “The view of vice president Gore will allow our university community to hear first hand from one of the most prominent and active leaders in the entire nation in this field.”
Gore just isn’t an environmental leader. He could very well be the movement’s current star. When he took the stage, Gore did so with the charisma that failed to come across during his bid for the White House.
“I used to be the next president of the United States of America,” he said to thunderous applause and laughter. “I don’t find that to be particularly funny.”
His attempt at stand-up was only an introduction into the serious portion of his nearly two-hour Lloyd Noble Center presentation on global warming. Backed by a large screen, Gore displayed his famous slides of the Earth and disappearing glaciers. Through his words and pictures he wanted to dispel the myth that global warming wasn’t a consensus and was a real threat to the world.
“We are getting close to those levels of extinction,” he said drawing parallels to the end of the dinosaur’s dominance. “There is no asteroid, it’s us.”
Gore’s argument centers on carbon emissions. He described the Earth as a “goldilocks planet” not too hot and not too cold. While the earth has an average temperature of 59 degrees, its neighbors do not. Venus has a 855 degree average and Mars, -67 degrees. The Earth is kept in balance by carbon dioxide, but the elevation in CO2 emissions has started the chain reaction of global warming.
“It’s the CO2,” he emphatically stated. “It’s now at a level where it’s having an impact.”
Gore has based a lot of his science on a former teacher and geochemist Roger Revelle. Gore said Revelle began measuring the level of carbon in the late 1950s. His research showed a direct link between carbon and warmer temperatures.
“More CO2 means warmer temperatures,” he said. “CO2 and the temperature have gone up and down together.”
One by one he showed slides of disappearing glaciers and the shrinking Lake Chad. He also spoke of the warm ocean water that powered the strong 2005 hurricane season. And if the current computer models hold true, sea levels could rise by 20 feet and displace hundreds of millions “climate refugees.”
If man-made CO2 emissions weren’t enough, Gore said there was enough carbon trapped in the ice of Siberia to send current levels off the chart.
“We have to turn the thermostat down before we get to this point,” he said to the crowd. “What would we tell our grandchildren if we let that happen. We are called on to be good stewards of the planet.”
It was a different Gore that appeared in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom Thursday evening. He seemed relaxed and not near the levels of energy he expressed earlier. He also was in good spirits as he fielded questions from Boren and others about melting ice caps, rising sealevels, an upcoming book and what average citizens can do to affect the political process.
Boren informed Gore that Norman had accepted the Kyoto Accord — an international treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse gases — even though the United States had not. “A blueberry in a bowl of tomato soup,” Gore said.
Later during the evening conversation, President Boren said he would be “shot” if he didn’t ask Gore the question about the possibility of a candidate jumping into the presidential race after the frontrunners beat each other up through the primaries.
“I think you would make a great president,” Gore joked to Boren.
Returning to the question, Gore said he didn’t see such a scenario playing out for him.
“I myself think it’s most unlikely I’ll ever be a candidate again. I kind of fell out of love with the political process ... I have never ruled out 100 percent being a candidate again but I really don’t think it will ever happen.”

Tony Pennington writes for The Norman (Okla.) Transcript. Transcript Managing Editor Andy Rieger contributed to this article.
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