10/24/2013 11:26 am ET

Al Gore Reddit AMA: Former Vice President Talks Climate Change And Energy


Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore sat down for an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit on Wednesday afternoon to talk climate and energy and promote his "24 Hours of Reality" live stream.

The event, which is now in its third year, features live, hour-long presentations from 24 locations around the world meant to foster dialogue around climate change and spark action. This year's event, which aired on October 22 and 23, was called "The Cost of Carbon," and included a website that allows users to input their location and understand the "cost" they're paying for CO2 pollution in the atmosphere.

Read some of Gore's answers below:

Cheesydude: Do you think Telsa will make it as a car company even with the pressure from local car dealers as well as major car corporations?

Gore: Yes! In Musk I trust.

Powdah: What is your opinion on China's smog problem?

Gore: Unbelievably bad air pollution in China -- particularly in the North of China. Check out Harbin (population 11 million) on Google today: the city is shut DOWN by air pollution; 1000+ ppm (compared to a safe level of 25 ppm). Chinese Communist Party values stability, but public protests, demonstrations and serious unrest are beginning to threaten stability and what they call the "Mandate of Heaven". The good news is that their new president is seemingly determined to take action. They have just banned any new coal-burning plants in three heavily polluted areas, and have implemented cap-and-trade in five cities and two provinces -- as pilot for a nationwide cap-and-trade for the whole country by 2015. If they follow through, this will be a HUGE deal for global carbon pollution reduction. And since folks literally ARE "holding their breath," maybe they will follow through. The bad news is that they are still increasing the amount of coal they burn. I'm betting on the Chinese people using the internet -- in SPITE of the censorship there -- to win this struggle.

Cvasquez12: What specific things are you doing in life to lower your personal carbon footprint? And what is the biggest one specific thing I as an individual can do to reduce mine?

Gore: I use only carbon-free electricity. Have 33 solar panels on my roof, seven deep geothermal wells under my driveway, LED lights and highest-grade energy-saving windows, max insulation, hybrid plug-in car, etc. No fountains, btw. What you can do? Make smart choices for low-carbon options in the marketplace, make sure you divest from carbon-intensive stocks; be a smart and active citiizen! Let politicians know the climate crisis MATTERS to you -- A LOT -- that you will WORK and contribute to candidates who really champion solutions -- and that you will seriously work hard to DEFEAT candidates who ignore climate or take the wrong positions on climate. Help put a price on carbon in the market and put a price on denial in the political system.

SealionOfNeutrality: What's your opinion on using nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels in the future?

Gore: I have mixed feelings. The present generation of the technology is clunky, fragile and extremely expensive. Price increases are continuing -- even as PV and Wind (not to mention new efficiency technologies for "demand destruction") continue to plummet in price. Within seven years, more than 85% of the world's people will live in areas where renewable electricity is equal to or cheaper than electricity from either fossil or nuclear energy! (The market projections for cell phone deployment were also wrong for the same reasons the projections for PV and Wind have been way way wrong: the cost-down curve is steep; the technologies improve as they get cheaper; scaling produces a virtuous circle; purchasing decisions are in the hands of individuals, not utilities; and in developing countries with few existing land-line grids for telephones and central-station electricity, the advantages of leap-frogging are even more attractive. This trend toward "distributed renewable power" is unstoppable. But the legacy industries of the past are trying to hold it back by using money and lobbyists and raw political power. Now is the time to push hard to tear down those walls between us and a sustainable future. As for nuclear, it will continue to play a limited role, and IF the ongoing R&D produces cheaper, safer, smaller reactors, they may yet play a more significant role. It will probably be a decade before we know whether or not one or more of these options will work; I hope they will. But in the meantime, we need to push hard for the more rapid scaling and deployment of renewables.

Gore also appeared on TakePart Live on Tuesday night, and stressed the urgency of addressing climate change. "The problem is with us here and now. It's not as if it's easy to fix, it's hard," he told hosts Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria. "The longer we wait, the harder it will be to solve."

"We're going to win. We're going to fix this. But we're in a race and we need to fix it before the problem gets so big that the damage will be more than we can take."



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