Sign up to receive our twice-weekly News & Politics newsletter.
Despite months of discouraging news about extreme weather conditions, the former Vice-President Al Gore still believes that there is a solution to the climate crisis clearly in sight. “We have a switch we can flip,” he tells David Remnick. The problem, as Gore sees it, is that a powerful legacy network of political and financial spheres of influence are stubbornly standing in the way. “When ExxonMobil or Chevron put their ads on the air, the purpose is not for a husband and wife to say, ‘Oh, let’s go down to the store and buy some motor oil.’ The purpose is to condition the political space so that they have a continued license to keep producing and selling more and more fossil fuels,” Gore says. But it’s also what he describes as our ongoing “democracy crisis” that’s playing a factor as well. He believes lawmakers who know better are turning a blind eye to incontrovertible data for short-term political gain. “The average congressman spends an average of five hours a day on the telephone, and at cocktail parties and dinners begging lobbyists for money to finance their campaigns,” Gore says. Still, Gore says he is cautiously optimistic. “What Joe Biden did last year in passing the so-called Inflation Reduction Act . . . was the most extraordinary legislative achievement of any head of state of any country in history,” Gore says, adding that temperatures will stop going up “almost immediately” if we reach a true net zero in fossil-fuel emissions. “Half of all the human-caused greenhouse-gas pollution will have fallen out of the atmosphere in as little as twenty-five to thirty years.”