What is it about a mind that gets stretched by an idea or a heart that gets filled with hope? One of the answers can perhaps be this: The mind and the heart will never be the same again.
Please read on to know why I said what I just said.
Climate change is one of the most politically debated topics of this century. Which side of the battlefield do you embrace? Are you concerned about the melting Himalayan glaciers which may disappear completely in about 300 years? Or, do you think it is mere hogwash put out by hordes of scientists through their peer-reviewed papers categorically stating that humans have been singularly responsible for all this and a lot more? If on the cusp, are you confused by the many shades of gray shrouding this global crisis sparked predominantly by fossil fuels?
Those denialists may have their own ideological axe to grind but there is one man who has been raising the profile of this issue and travelling all over the world to equip the believers with the latest scientific knowledge on climate change: Former Vice President of the United States and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 Al Gore.
Why? He wants to “win the conversation” when pitched against a denialist because “change can happen if we all live like we’d like the change”.
The Al Gore Moments
At the Climate Reality Leadership Program held from February 22-24 in Delhi recently, Al Gore was awaited by a hall packed with leaders selected from various countries. It is a crusade that his Climate Reality Project has launched “to educate and empower their communities to take action on climate change”. It entails travelling all over the world three times a year and since 2006, the team has trained over 7,000 change agents from 120 countries.
With the The Road To Paris not too far away, there’s a palpable sense of urgency to get things going on a global scale. This, mingled with the excitement of hearing from the man of the moment, had the atmosphere charged with anticipation. A tinderbox of expectations was set to explode. All waited, suspended.
Moments later, one training session after another had the audience on their feet as Al Gore went on ferreting out scientific facts to buttress his arguments. He is totally convinced that the climate crisis can be solved, not just mitigated. That comes with a warning though: “…but the longer we take, the more grave the risks we’re taking with humankind.”
He delivered those lines, often peppered with humour, which came to him so effortlessly and it was hard to believe what more could climate sceptics need to accept the fact that the earth is in revolt and that it has been sending out not subtle, but obvious signals through floods and famines, among others.
He said: “As the quote goes, ‘After the last no, comes a yes. On that yes, the future of the world depends’. We need to get to the ‘yes’ on solving the climate crisis.”
The facts, the feelings…
There is an ocean of information floating on the internet, but it’s all in the way the relevant ones are teased out to put things into perspective. Numbers and facts carry no value unless you see a pattern and lend meaning to it. What is needed is not just statistics, but statistics without stasis. And then it’s all about how you express it appropriately and convincingly to deliver an impact.
The statistics and visuals in his presentations were collated from all over the world and a majority of them reminded how, eventually, it’s the poor that will be hit the hardest apart from the 37-40 per cent of all the animal species which is set to go extinct by 2050 if we refuse to shape up.
“We can solve the climate crisis”
At times, the horror-filled natural disasters happening all over the world made everything look hopeless. But there was, just as irrefutably, succour because of how this climate warrior went on pinning his hopes on solar and wind energy, sustainable agriculture, among other solutions. “We will choose the future of the planet and humanity in the remaining few months of this year.”
A particularly positive threshold is the plummeting cost of photovoltaic solar cells—something unforeseen by even the finest of the minds. In at least 79 countries, it costs less to produce solar power than electricity from other sources. But much hinges on how fast we get there.
“Political will is a renewable resource,” he added as he went on describing India’s march towards its “Sunlight Revolution” saying that India’s electricity generation from solar will increase 34 times between 2012 and 2040.
“You’ve heard the saying that ‘Things take longer than you think they will, then happen faster than you thought they could’. This is what we’re starting to see with the adoption of solar energy. I’m very optimistic.”
The passion, the hunger…
To have the audience attention on your side about an issue as vast and complex as climate change isn’t easy. It takes hunger, passion and frenetic reflectiveness to prepare and drive the message home. It is these qualities that had him deliver sessions from 9 am to 6 pm with a few customary breaks thrown in.
As he reminded his audience the purpose of their participation in the programme and what ultimately took them there, he said: “Stay in touch with that feeling…”
Well, that sure did touch many a hearts!