Ways we can stop global warming
Al Gore's newest book highlights solutions to the climate crisis
Former Vice President Al Gore believes we could solve the climate crisis today, provided we find the political will to do so. [Credit: openDemocracy, flickr.com]
In recent reports on climate change, scientists warn that unless humanity acts quickly, we are doomed to devastating consequences. News stories on how our addiction to carbon based fuels and nonstop emission of greenhouse gases may lead to numerous crises — such as rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and extreme weather patterns — can leave many with an overwhelming sense of despondency. However, Al Gore believes that not only is there hope for humanity, but also that we have all the technological advances and ideas necessary to avert catastrophe — today.
“I’ve come away with the absolute conviction, with no exaggeration, that we have all the tools and solutions to solve three or four climate crises — and we only have to solve one, ” Gore said.
Rather than focus on a single technology or action to solve global warming, Gore stressed that governments must employ an “all of the above” approach, employing multiple piecemeal solutions, at a promotional event for his new book Our Choices: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.
For example, while much attention has focused on the importance of promoting energy efficiency and renewable fuels, societies must also curb two other practices that are large sources of greenhouse gas emissions — deforestation and tilling soil in farming practices.
In order to combat certain farming practices, he believes governments should subsidize no-till farming and other carbon sequestration technologies. For example, Gore thinks biochar, which is basically porous charcoal, may be able to sequester 40 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions. He also believes that most of the solutions should be enacted on their merits alone, regardless of their effect on the climate.
According to Gore, conservation biologists stress that deforestation, which is contributing to the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, should be stopped to prevent disastrous effects on our current ecological balance. Furthermore, while deforestation often leads to short term economic gains in industries such as logging and farming, these profits are not sustainable over the long term. Managing deforestation ensures these industries have a longer future.
While current tilling practices achieve the highest yields and quickest returns in agriculture, they destroy soil quality for successive harvests. Thus, sustainable farming and carbon sequestration may be some of the most effective tools “to fight the food insecurity and poverty of developing nations, ” Gore said.
Also, Gore stresses that governments should start to enact policies to slow the population growth that leads to higher energy demands. While past studies suggest that industrialization is what brings about smaller birth rates, current research demonstrates this is not the case.
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