Gore Calls for Civil Disobedience at Clinton Global Initiative.

At today’s Clinton Global Initiative, Al Gore said for the first time in public that we are at a point in our world’s history, and in need of such immediate action, that if you are a young person it’s time for civil disobedience.

In particular to bring coal plants to a halt.

On a panel with Queen Rania of Jordan, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Neville Isdell (the CEO of Coca Cola), and Bono – moderated by President Clinton himself – Gore was fiery in his calls for action and investment in new clean energy technologies.  He was even more fiery in his strong denouncements of nonexistent clean coal (“There is no such thing!”), and a congress that is today voting on an energy bill that lifts the moratorium on mining coal shale, calling it – with dramatic pause – “IN-SANITY.”

In fact, Gore used the word “insane” or “insanity” at least 3 times (we’ll check the records to see if there more) in his descriptions of various political and business decisions made (or not made) with regard to climate.

Here are my minute by minute notes from the Opening Plenary. The times reflected are from my laptop clock – initially synced with event organizers – but are not official record:

11:24 Clinton asks Gore to tell everyone what investors/politicians should do in regard to energy/climate, and how to overcome political and financial difficulties.

11:25 Gore acknowledges all in the room and offers what appears to be very sincere thanks to Clinton for hosting the Clinton Global Iniitiatve.

11:26 Gore: “Current economic crisis was triggered by the sudden collapse of an assumption.  The assumption was that if you lumped housing loans together (even bad ones), you could eliminate the risk.  That assumption went splat this week.”

NOW is the time to prevent a much worse catastrophe based on an even bigger assumption.

“Since we met here last year (at CGI) we are losing badly in the fight against global warming”

11:28 References all the natural disasters – from hurricanes to fires in the US and Carribbean this year.

For every 1 degree in temperature increase there will be a 10x increase in lightning strikes.

Warming means less or no more frost in certain areas, which means more bugs/pests running rampant that we can’t control; throwing off our ecosystem. (haven’t heard him use this point before.

“This is all the result of an insane approach to climate”

“We as a species have to make A decision.”

“The economic crisis can truly provide an opportunity to make the right decisions.”

“We should stop burning coal!”

Compares clean coal to what happened on Wall Street.  Clean coal is an illusion.  Do not invest in it.

“Coal industries spending millions to sell an illusion (like Wall St.) of clean coal.”


“The only demo was discontinued. How many plants are there? Zero. How many blueprints: ZERO.”

“We should make a one-off investment into a new global energy infrastructure that is based on energy which is free forever. The sun. Wind…”

“Wind is competitive today. Geothermal is competitive today.”

We need a new super grid to take energy from where wind blows and the sun shines to where people live.

Darfur has more reliable sunshine than just about anywhere else. We can invest in these places and bring that energy to where population centers are.

Create jobs in building this grid, wind turbines,solar panels.  Ref: Green Jobs Day of Action this Saturday 27Sep

As MLK Jr said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

“Well, increased CO2 anywhere is a threat to civilization everywhere.”

“TODAY the US Congress is voting on a bill without ANY debate an energy policy that lifts moratorium on coal shale.  This is utter insanity.”

Re: Clinton Global “Every year we have a discussion here, and there is progress made.  But it’s not enough.  It’s not enough.”

11:37 Clinton: One very specific question.  “Just completed an interesting tour of our country’.” Lots of places that the wind is blowing (ref small TX town where wind at 56 mph), but there’s no grid to take the energy anywhere.

Question: What’s the quickest way to maximize solar and wind energy (and geothermal) production for the US.

Gore: Currently there is $120bn lost annually because of failures of current grid.  Needs to be replaced anyway.

Crazy enough, “can also use that SAME GRID to develop a next generation broadband network.”  Everyone wins.

New super grid “should be #1 infrastructure project of this decade – whoever is elected president.”

Clinton: 2 year wait to build new wind in New York for one investor (can’t hear name).

We need to change policy and incentives now to get these things going.

Gore: Stock traders that inform investors that global warming doesn’t prevent a threat are guilty of a form of stock fraud.

This is a crisis that is happening NOW.  Scientists around the world are practically screaming from the rooftops to stop it.

“If you’re a young person, I believe we’ve reached a point of civil disobedience” …to do things like take down coal plants.

Clinton to Queen Rania: Can we get Middle Eastern oil countries to become models of clean energy usage?

There are 53 Developing countries, and they import on average 70% of their energy.  ALL of them could theoretically be 100% self-reliant.

18 Responses to “Gore Calls for Civil Disobedience at Clinton Global Initiative.”

  1. 1 R Margolis Sep 24th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    What studies are out there on an all renewable source smartgrid? While I understand conceptually (and have read about ideas using HVDC and CAES) what is being proposed, it does not sound cheap or quick if it is to be truly nationwide. I’d be interested to read the reports on which Al Gore is basing his 10-year timeframe.

  2. 2 danawv Sep 24th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    This is excerpted from my blog at http://www.seac.org

    A while ago Al Gore and climate scientist James Hansen have encouraged young people to use civil disobedience to stop proposed coal fired power plants.

    Not that we needed their advice to do so. Grassroots efforts wouldn’t have stopped 59 plants in 2007 if people hadn’t already been working with many tools across all social and age boundaries to fight for climate justice.

    However, since we still have around 100 coal plant proposals left to shut down, I think it’s time that Al Gore learns that while young people are incredibly effective and smart at civil disobedience, we are also really good at organizing our communities, lobbying, promoting efficiency and conservation and other measures that are less fun but just as important as locking our necks to dozers.

    And really, while us young folks are pretty darn smart and pretty dang powerful, it would sure help the cause if Al Gore would encourage the older folks, and all folks, to do civil disobedience, as well as community organizing, lobbying, promoting renewables, and so on.

    It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a movement of all ages and kinds to stop a destructive man-kind munching dirty coal industry force from decimating our ability to sustain human life on the plant.

    Civil Disobedience helps, but it’s not the only answer, Mr. Gore.

  3. 3 HasteMakesWaste Sep 24th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Before we rise-up and sit-in, wouldn’t it be prudent to approach this issue without rhetoric and apples-to-oranges comparisons? I am an advocate for engagement and passionate response, but only through reasoned analysis and measured steps can we effect a practicable, appropriate solution to real issues. With respect to global warming, I submit that one avenue to pursue for those of you already engaged is to review some of the wealth of dispassionate analyses of climate research already at your fingertips, and available at climateaudit.org. I suggest a few minutes reading this particular post: http://www.climateaudit.org/index.php?p=166.

    Disclaimer: I am not an author, editor or subscriber to climateaudit.org, and have no vested interest in promoting this website. I am not a climate scientist, or, for that matter, particular youthful, as I’m in my forties.

    — GaryB

  4. 4 Nick Sep 24th, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Good for Gore, but I find it humerous that he assumes only the young are capable of civil disobediance (how about Gandhi, Al?). Also interesting (and laudible) that Gore has switched his position on “clean coal” – I recall he was much less opposed to it in “An Inconvenient Truth.”

  5. 5 Robert Patrick Sep 25th, 2008 at 7:43 am

    I am a fan of history, but, not so much of my own! The same greedy bastards responsible for the meltdown on Wallstreet are responsible for the meltdown of the planet. How else do we get there attention? If they want to burn down the house why should it matter who lights the match?

  6. 6 Sam Sep 25th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I agree with Nick.

    We need a national movement where everyone takes part. If Gore think CD is important, he should be out front getting arrested–what better way to set the example.

  7. 7 Southern Buddhist Sep 26th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I loves me some Al Gore. Is it me or is he dressing and shaving more like a politician again? Obama Cabinet position?

  8. 8 Midwestern Atheist Sep 27th, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I hope.

  9. 9 Scott Sep 28th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Frankly, I’m tired of hearing how Gore needs to get arrested doing CD against coal plants. He’s not going to until a lot more of us start doing it. Thousands more. I think that is what he is trying to communicate when he says things like young people need to be doing civil disobedience. Same goes for most other luminaries and celebrities that we all want to see cross that line.

    Right now groups of a half dozen and dozen are digging in and putting their bodies on the line at coal plants, coal financiers and corporate offices. I celebrate Earth First!, Rising Tide and others doing this, but I’m really ready to see folks associated with more mainstream groups begin taking this risk as well.

    It’s fine to blog and comment and got to safer protests and rallies etc., but if we want Al Gore to cross the line and say, like Thoreau, “thus far and no further” we need to commit ourselves to direct action. There’s an old saying that goes “if the people lead, the leaders will follow,” it pretty much sums up what needs to happen if you want Al Gore to become Gandhi or King.

  10. 10 adiction Nov 5th, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Very funny to read

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