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Al Gore In Beverly Hills To Talk About His Book And More

Max Schwartz |
February 12, 2013 | 12:09 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter


Former Vice President Al Gore with Madeleine Brand in the Saban Theatre. (Max Schwartz/Neon Tommy)
Former Vice President Al Gore with Madeleine Brand in the Saban Theatre. (Max Schwartz/Neon Tommy)
Writers Bloc presented former Vice President Al Gore to a near sold out crowd at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on Thursday evening. Just last month, Writers Bloc presented Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Gore, who is known for his defeat in the 2000 presidential contest, his Inconvenient Truth, Current TV, has a new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Gore discussed this book and other topics that relate to it. Gore's stop in Beverly Hills was the second of two in the Los Angeles area for his book tour.

Before the talk started, Edward Knott, a regular at Writers Bloc events, shared why he attended Thursday evening's program and what his expectations were. Knott said, "…really isn't that complicated. Al Gore is former vice president and he's been a citizen of the world, so to speak, afterwards, so why not come out and see him?" He added when asked about his expectations, "You know…that's one of the nice things about these kinds of…forms of communication, you can come in here without any particular expectations and enjoy the moment…I do like the way he has alerted the world…about global warming…"

KCET's Madeleine Brand moderated the discussion. The discussion was followed by a question and answer session from the audience.

Prior to engaging Gore in the conversation, Brand listed Gore's achievements since the 2000 election. His accolades include a Nobel Peace Prize and an Academy Award, among others. She also told the audience what the six drivers.

Gore then described how he got to the six drivers discussed in his book. He recollected that he started thinking of the drivers after he made a speech in Europe. Gore said he was "…always fascinated with the future." He was also captivated with the interconnectedness of all of the drivers. A phrase he used when discussing them was "emergent changes."

The former vice president than spoke about how science is advancing and how various fields are interrelated. The example he used was that of the spider goat. "Spider goats…there are people that have them now…you can take the genes from orb weaving spiders [and put them in] goats," remarked Gore. He continued with an explanation that this allows the goat to "…secrete spider silk through their udders." He explained that this is an example of genetics and advanced science.

Brand brought up the word "creepy" after Gore's description. Gore then countered her comment with, "Creepy…is not fear. Creepy is pre-fear…" He continued with, "These changes are so powerful that we have to be aware of what is emerging and make choices," which he believes is the theme of the book.

He continued discussing science and while doing so said, "We are now in charge of evolution."

Gore than explained that greenhouse gases are still entering the atmosphere and went into detail of how much is there via comparisons. Gore then explained the effects of these gases, which he bluntly said were the drought the United States experienced and Superstorm Sandy.

He used climate change to transition into politics. He said, "Not one single journalist…asked a question about the climate crisis," during the presidential debates. He continued on by talking about President Obama and climate change. Gore said, "I would like to point out…that he has done more than any previous president…not enough's been done," about what Obama has done in this battle, but he did mention more needs to be done. He emphasized to the crowd that people need to tell the politicians "…that they do care [about the environment]."

Gore then transitioned to special interests. He said it is "…troubling [that] politicians take marching orders [from special interests]."  He brought up and repeated the phrase "Our democracy has been hacked." The former Congressman recalled that he took the time to hear what his constituents had to say and then said, "…it does not work that way now." He said that members of Congress "…need permission from special interests [to pass pieces of legislation]." His example for this was the Affordable Care Act and how pharmaceutical companies were involved in the legislation.

He continued on by speaking about how now TV is more dominant than newspapers and that money is now important than ever before. Gore sated, "We need to overturn Citizens United." Gore stated that a majority of Congress wants to overturn it, but will not and said that is proof that our "democracy is hacked."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was brought up because he will be giving the Republican response to the State of the Union on Tuesday and because he does not believe in climate change. Gore commented on this and said, saying how one percent of our GDP was removed by the horrific drought this country saw.

He continued by discussing climate patterns and clean energy. Gore mentioned that climate events that are supposed to happen every 500 or 1000 years are happening every few years. He continued with, "I…have…proposed a CO2 tax…we could end subsidies…to coal, oil, and natural gas…people have this idea that renewables are expensive…" He did say; however, that the price of renewable energy sources is going down.

After discussing renewable energy, Gore continued with the Internet. He said, "…it's now getting more and more powerful," when talking about the Internet age. He spoke about how Obama's first term fundraising came from the Internet. Data mining was also brought into the conversation, but he did say there has to be privacy "safe guards." He believes it is a good that people can connect for causes on the Internet and come together in person.

He then went back to climate change by saying, "We have to win the conversation…on the climate crisis…" WikiLeaks was also discussed and the conversation got back to "privacy safeguards."

The discussion then shifted to technology. Gore mentioned that 5 billion people out of the 7 billion people have access to cell phones. He also mentioned that literacy has gone up because "the Internet is in words." It was also mentioned that "cell phones are getting smarter." Gore and Brand then discussed the "vital haves and have nots" and Gore discussed online universities.

The conversation continued along the line of technology. Gore explained how Swiss dairy farmers have put devices in their cows that sends a text message to the farmer when the cow is in heat. Gore then mentioned the fact that more information flows from machine to machine than from human to human. This was then expanded to discuss the increased technology in the work place.

Gore continued to speak about the future with, "…the broad forces that are sometimes overlooked should not be." This was in response to a question Brand posed about how he knows his predictions are right.

Gore then emphasized that he spent a lot of time researching for the book. He said, "…the last 150 pages are footnotes."

During the question and answer period, he said, "…I'm reporting knowledge that has been carefully vetted…"

He was asked a question about why he sold Current TV to Al-Jazeera. He said that they have an "…outstanding reputation…" He continued with, "…they cover issues that other networks don't even touch." Gore believes it will be good for "the American media landscape" that Al Jazeera will be here. There was a small group of protesters outside the Saban Theatre who were against him selling his network to Al Jazeera.

Near the end of the program he said, "…we must rise with the occasion…" when speaking about the future.


Reach Staff Reporter Max Schwartz here; follow him on Twitter here.



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