During his recent visit to Tufts University, The Fletcher Forum had a chance to sit down with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the political, social, and environmental implications of climate change, as well as what current students can do to prepare for a challenging future.
Fletcher Forum (FF): The Fletcher Forum’s spring/summer theme is “The World in 2030.” What do you believe will be the biggest challenges and opportunities the climate will pose in the world in 2030, and how might we, as students and future policymakers, prepare for 2030?
Al Gore (AG): Great question. I don’t even know where to begin because there’s so many different challenges. I’ll just name a few. We have already seen in the past couple of years the political disruption that accompanies large flows of climate refugees. And there is a high risk that over the next 12 years, between now and 2030, the numbers of climate refugees will increase significantly, so we need to prepare for that. Of course, we need to prepare for continuing climate-related extreme weather events, but we need to focus at the same time on all of the policy changes needed to reduce emissions and slow down the climate crisis until we can bend the curves definitively downward. I’m optimistic because technology is working in our favor and market developments are now beginning to work in our favor, but we need policy changes—and, in order to solve the climate crisis, we need to spend time fixing the democracy crisis. I’m encouraged at the possibility that this election year here in the United States may begin a shift in the political winds, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Tufts Daily: Given that climate change has been driven by over a century of industrialization, it can be hard to know where to begin trying to create solutions as an individual person. What are some concrete examples of things that students can be doing to fight climate change?
AG: Well of course the factors that are making the climate crisis worse have accelerated quite significantly in the last 15 years. But the response is also building, and young people (especially college students)have been in the vanguard of every great social revolution—civil rights, anti-Apartheid, women’s rights, gay rights more recently—and the climate movement is in that tradition, so there’s no doubt in my mind that the increasing amount of activism by college students is one of the most important factors in speeding up the response to the climate crisis.
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