What is common between Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio?

After January 2016 turned out to be the hottest month in record with temperature seeing a 2C rise for the first time, February saw important speeches made on climate change, one was on expected lines but the other one wasn’t. Nevertheless the two speeches have since received critical acclaim. First it was Al Gore who spoke at the Annual TED conference on The Case for optimism on Climate Change and then unexpectedly we got to hear about Leo Caprio talk about climate change during his Oscar acceptance speech. The second event got me wondering on what Leo would have spoken at the Oscars had he won his first award long time ago. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been climate change. Well, this just reflects on how much climate change means to an average person in America now (considering there are a lot of people who still deny it) and also for someone to talk about it on a night when you picked up an award that you were yearning for long meant something. In case you missed it…

I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have spoken this way a decade ago, talking of which reminds me of Al Gore’s speech in 1999 before the presidential election. Well, its not about climate change for once.

Yes, Al Gore claims to have created the internet!!

Now, onto the real Al Gore speech. We would have probably heard Al Gore talk about how global warming is real and what it is doing to the planet and its balance. But, after watching this TED talk I see a real optimism (the talk is aptly titled as well) in his voice that we could in fact turn this mess around. The talk is around his three questions and the possible answers from our actions.

  1. Do we have to Change?
  2. Can we change?
  3. Will we change?

We all probably believe to an extend that we have to change both at the level of individual and society. We continue to witness higher temperatures year on year. The return period of extreme events like floods and droughts are increasing. (Read more about the climate risks and cities). Al Gore calls this as a systemic effect with every event has its own causal linkages in the system with definitive feed-backs. An interesting case in point which is now recurring time and again is the Syrian crisis between 2006-2010 and what has now happened to it. (Well, even I have talked about it). A conflict for food and water could turn into a massive Geo-political crisis. An interesting point that could catch the attention of economists is the cost of this crisis and it has indeed caught their eyes this time around in Davos. (this article has a different opinion though).

So, can we change?

The argument is well structured around the development of new technologies especially the renewable energy technologies. The key graphs on how wind has developed in the recent years on the backdrop of falling prices and how the solar energy capacity has exceeded predictions are well portrayed.

WindWindCostSolar Capacity

This one though is cliche which even I don’t endorse now!

Solar

 

The biggest takeaway from the argument was the correlation to the development and penetration of mobile telephony against the backdrop of decreasing prices, increasing quality and the opportunity to leapfrog through technological advancements.

And finally will we change?

Herein lies the optimism. On the backdrop of Paris Agreement and aggressive commitments from all the countries there is hope. It is only a matter of time, the national targets will either motivate the individuals or rather enforce regulations that make them comply. But, motivation from within is what will save the planet. As he concludes, we are in fact solving the climate crisis, it is now just a matter of time before we finally get there.

Hope we get there soon!

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