Gore: [I]t now seems obvious to almost everyone that the severity of the crisis has reached a new level of intensity. Climate-related extreme events have become so common and so dangerous that people who wanted to dismiss it are now waking up to the reality that we’re facing. And, of course, the underlying substance is shocking. We’re still using the sky as an open sewer for the heat-trapping, gaseous pollution that we spew into it at the rate of a hundred and sixty-two million tons every single day. And we know how to solve it. We have the means to solve it. I’ve used the metaphor of flipping a switch, and some people have objected to that. But, really, we have a switch we can flip.
Remnick: Describe what the switch is, what the political means are, and what stands in the way.
Gore: The climate crisis is really a fossil-fuel crisis. There are other components of it, for sure, but eighty per cent of it is the burning of fossil fuels. And scientists now know—and this is a relatively new finding, a very firm understanding—that, once we stop net additions to the overburden of greenhouse gases, once we reach so-called net zero, then temperatures on Earth will stop going up almost immediately. The lag time is as little as three to five years. They used to think that temperatures would keep on worsening because of positive-feedback loops—and some things, tragically, will. The melting of the ice, for example, will continue, though we can moderate the pace of that; the extinction crisis will continue without other major changes. But we can stop temperatures from going up almost immediately, and that’s the switch we need to flip. And then, if we can stay at true net zero, half of all human-caused greenhouse-gas pollution will fall out of the atmosphere in twenty-five to thirty years. So we can start the long and slow healing process almost immediately, if we act. [Continue reading…]