Friday, June 23, 2006

Al Gore - RSA lecture / An Inconvenient truth

Former US Vice-President Al Gore presented a lecture entitled "Earth in the Balance Sheet" to a full house in the Great Room of the RSA on June 21st. His influential book Earth in the balance is available to borrow from the RSA Fellows' Library, and has now been followed up with a new film and book - An Inconvenient truth (book published in the UK September 06 - reserve a copy now from the RSA Fellows' Library).

The film has had a high impact pushing the environment to the forefront of the US social and political agenda. The current unwillingness of the USA to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is seen by
many as a massive barrier to uniform action on climate change.

Trailer for
An Inconvenient truth ......

Gore proved to be both a charismatic and powerful speaker during his RSA performance, indulging in self mockery during his introduction in which he conceded that "yes, I was the next president of the United States", but also describing the need to tackle climate change as "a moral imperative" and speaking with great passion when comparing the kind of united action required to effectively reduce carbon emissions with the bravery and determination displayed by the Allies in their commitment to overthrowing fascism during the Second World War. A podcast of the lecture is available

However support for Al Gore has not been universal. The
Competitive Enterprise Institute, a lobbying group that stresses limited government regulation and a free-market approach to environmental issues, has created two "Pro-Carbon" television advertisements aimed at countering the effect of what they call the "alarmist" media presentation of worldwide climate change. And before you ask, they are for real......

However, Gore's film has also attracted some more measured criticism. In a
recent piece in The Guardian newspaper, John Pilger criticized Gore's role as an environmentalist by pointing out that when Gore was Vice-President under the Clinton administration, the US had an even worse record on carbon emissions than at present.

Such a high profile speaker clearly illustrates the high quality of the
RSA lecture program and it's commitment to stimulating discussion and debate of the most crucial issues of the day. Mr Gore's presence at the RSA received significant media attention, including a feature on Radio 4's The Today Program.

A further RSA lecture relating to environmentalism is planned for September (not yet announced). It is due to feature Bjorn Lomborg and be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Lomborg, author of The Skeptical environmentalist and Global crises, global solutions (a 2nd edition to be published in July renamed How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place ), is renowned for his controversial views and opposition to the majority of the environmental lobby movement.

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