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Many Solutions But Just One Choice: Al Gore Launches his New Book

Last night was a big night for me. I got to eat my first Shake Shack Burger, purportedly the best burger in Manhattan (if not the world?). It was pretty damn good. Normally I would never eat a burger if it weren’t organic. But restaurateur Danny Meyer seems to know how to handle good food, and I’m glad I took the risk—because it kept me from being hungry while I introduced the Nobel Peace Prize-winning, Honorable Vice President Al Gore at the launch party for his new book Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, published by Rodale. As Chairman and CEO of the publisher of Our Choice, I was honored to host an intimate party for him (right after he appeared on Letterman, and before he spoke to a few thousand people at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City).

Here are some scenes from the event:

What is truly amazing about the research-packed, intense book is that it demonstrates over and over that we really do have a lot of solutions to solving the world’s climate and environmental problems. The biggest challenge is just motivating ourselves—and our governments—to get it done.

But with so many solutions, where do we begin? I took the liberty of making a list. Y’all should buy the book and read it so you can learn the whole spectrum of amazing options, but until then, here are my top 10 solutions for stopping climate change as inspired by Al Gore’s Our Choice:

1. Believe you can make a difference.
You don’t even really need to believe in global warming to have a desire to improve the world for future generations, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make the air, water and soil cleaner. I had a truly lovely conversation with former Governor Mario Cuomo at the party and he said to me “It is a moral, ethical and the ultimate religious choice to care about the world long after we are in it.” We both lamented that more conservative religious groups aren’t embracing the need to protect our environment, thereby protecting our children (all God’s children!)

2. Educate girls around the world. Truly, it’s the one thing we can all do that will ultimately reduce population growth and improve the quality of life for all people on the planet. Vice President Gore shows how it works in the book, and it’s amazing.

3. Eat, grow, and buy organic food. Al Gore doesn’t come right out and say so in the book—but I know he thinks it. He understands now, finally, the importance of organic soil to storing carbon. And while he’s still a believer in genetically modified (GM) crops, I have faith he will change his mind once he reads my upcoming book, Organic Manifesto. After all, he cast the deciding vote supporting corn-based biofuels, and now admits he was wrong. (We women love it when a guy is man enough to admit he was wrong!)

4. Turn off the TV. Not only will it save electricity and energy, but watching less television will also give you your life back. The average American watches 17 years of television over his or her lifetime. That’s an average of five hours a day when you could be doing something important to make a difference. Or at the very least exercising your “democracy muscles.”

5. Plant trees—lots of trees. Trees are massive carbon storage bins, and they provide us our oxygen for breathing. And each tree stores carbon for the duration of its long life. Wherever you have space, plant trees. Support groups that plant trees (like the New York Restoration Project, which has already planted 250,000 trees in New York City). Trees also turn desert back into viable, usable land, and restore healthy weather patterns. Trees rock!

6. Protect our soil. Adding any synthetic chemicals to our soil not only poisons us, but it kills off the essential fungi and bacteria that store carbon and keep the soil alive. Dead soil turns into desert. Dead soil can’t grow anything. Dead soil leads to dead civilizations (which means dead people).

7. Don’t buy meat or poultry unless it’s from a place where animals are raised organically and on a farm, not a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). Animal manure is a key organic fertilizer for farms, but when cattle or poultry are raised inhumanely in CAFOs and fed foods that aren’t good for them (like corn, arsenic, and other animals), their manure turns acidic and toxic. Which leads to methane pollution that isn’t good for anything, and food that isn’t good for us. I don’t know if Shake Shack burgers are CAFO-free (no one is perfect!), but they did have “Stop Global Warming” T-shirts for sale in the restaurant.

8. Live in a city. The carbon footprint of people who live in cities is less than half of those who live outside the cities. If (like me) you don’t like living in cities make sure you drive a fuel-efficient car, preferably a hybrid.

9. Support renewable energy wherever and whenever you can. Seriously, wind, solar and geothermal CAN provide all our energy needs: we just have to start making it happen.

10. VOTE to change the laws and policies. It’s not just about changing light bulbs anymore, it’s about changing the rules that protect polluters and prevent renewable energy from becoming affordable. Fortunately, we live in a democracy where we can, when we make the choice, unite and fight for what’s right by electing the right people, writing to the right people, and running for office ourselves. Yes we can!

Note: All the profit from Our Choice goes to the Alliance for Climate Protection to “help repower America.” Check out the group’s website.

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9 Responses to Many Solutions But Just One Choice: Al Gore Launches his New Book

  1. dtabor November 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Not to be contrary – the Nobel prize was given to a “GROUP” that Albert was part of (although media claiming it was only him is not surprising.)
    Storing Carbon Dioxide? Not really. It’s a system – trees (plants) are goodness since they “breathe in CO2” and “exhale” oxygen. But they don’t store it.
    And when is media going to get it – carbon footprint. We (humans) ARE CARBON, so until we get rid of humans, there will be “footprints” all over.
    CFL (lights) contain the most deadly substance on earth – mercury. Short term thinking says they drastically reduce power consumption, but long term says that there is a lot more toxic substance being mined, refined and having to be recycled (somehow). The same applies to Hybrid cars – materials come from all over the planet (on ships that are one of the worst polluters) and the amount of lead used for batteries exposes a lot more people to this toxic substance.

    At least let’s try to get some of the truth (as inconvenient as it might be) for BOTH sides out there. Engineering says that everything needs to be considered in making a rational choice.

    Thanks

  2. maria November 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    dear dtabor,

    I am assuming you don’t drive a car? And I’m sure you don’t use any heating or cooling in your home.

    We can debate the details and throw sand in faces all you want. But meanwhile, I’ve made my choice and I’m taking action…all my carbon included!

  3. Keith November 4, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    I agree with Maria 100 percent in our world if we all do some lifestyle changes we can change our world. I drive but try to run all errands in 1 trip, change lightbulbs, turn off tv . Its our choice to do the right thing.

  4. Michelle November 4, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    I don’t believe I have heard anyone say that we should eliminate our carbon footprint, or I think I would agree with dtabor. I’ve only heard people advocate the reduction of our carbon footprint.
    Also, I am happy to hear someone talking about our responsibilities as stewards of our planet. I was watching a youtube video put out by the Nicene Council that made me wonder what kinds of stewards of the planet Earth they were? Perhaps the ostrich kind?
    Finally, I am also happy that someone is talking about choice. There are hundreds if not thousands of choices we make everyday. Why not choose organic when you can, efficiency when you can, the planet earth when you can?

  5. Maya November 4, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    Well said Michelle!!!

  6. Tony November 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    It should be noted that not only does Al Gore come across as an incredible passionate and informed speaker, he does so while rocking some awesome cowboy boots!

  7. libertarian_paternalist November 5, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    Dtabor,

    Not to be contrary, but you’re a nitwit.

    Trees most certainly do store carbon, for their lifetimes AND LONGER. CO2 is a molecule of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. Trees breathe it in, capture the C (and use it to build wood), and return the O2 to the atmosphere. Coal = long-dead, compressed and metamorphised organic matter (trees). Burning recombines the carbon with oxygen, bringing back the CO2 that had been sequestered. Damn right it’s a system, one that has been thrown dangerously out of whack by humankind (and that persists because of troglodyte conservatives).

    But thanks for making positive suggestions on how to live sustainably and selflessly. I’m sure we all got a lot from your trollish comment.

    The deadliest substance on earth is ignorance. Work on remediating yours.

    “thanks”

  8. Tony Case November 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Right on, Maria. Think what a difference it would make if this ignorant, arrogant, fat, over-consuming, bloated nation of ours would wise up & do even HALF of what Gore proposes. Following libertarian_paternalist’s point, apathy & cynicism & ridicule do not constitute intelligent debate, though it’s fascinating (demoralizing?) the extent to which simple-mindedness & name-calling make up what’s laughingly referred to as “political discourse” in this country in these times. (What rational, thinking person can take seriously the point of view of anyone who makes an absurd comment like: “We [humans] ARE CARBON, so until we get rid of humans, there will be ‘footprints’ all over”? This is political debate at its most Foxian, its most Glenn Beckian, indeed.) Gore makes the point in his book, & it’s a point that’s been made many times before, that concern for & care for the environment should not, must not be a political issue. Yes, there are differing ideas about the solutions to these problems, but jeebus, are we not finally at the point that we must all agree there IS a problem?? Naturally, though, because it’s Gore, people will begin tearing down anything he says the minute he opens his mouth, instead of actually listening & learning &, horror of horrors, doing the right thing. In the book, Gore meticulously explains how & why this stuff has gotten politicized: in short, because of pandering politicians, greedy industry & their lobbyists, & a public that is all too happily, blissfully ignorant so long as they have their Suburbans, McMansions & Big Macs. (Would you like fries w/ your global ecological meltdown??)

  9. Margarita Persico November 10, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    Maria,
    Thanks for sharing this. If we only did our fair share by not consuming 75% to 90% of products contributing to this problem we wouldn’t need to worry about politicians, some scientists misguiding us, or environmentalist spending their time to convince us. Really, there is nothing to convince, the problem is real! We all have the power to reduce our carbon footprint. If we don’t consume these “bad” products, they won’t manufacture/produce what they can’t sell. Eat organic, purchase fresh unpackaged/unfrozen foods, bike, walk, plan better so we don’t have to make more unnecessary trips, don’t use a/c instead install fans and window screens … there is so much we can do, but we have to be willing to do it. And if we can make the effort — as you said, the average person spends 17 years watching television –- to watch less T.V., we would gain so much more time and life, and we can start to take care of the earth and us. Loving our planet is to love our children.

    I can’t help but recall driving to Irazu volcano, Costa Rica, several months ago, where I’ve been living. The volcanic land is so fertile, but they were using something that day that smell so bad. It shocked me – fertilizers, I was told. A country that calls itself green, but still even in fertile land uses chemicals was a surprise to me. I had to write about this experience at my web site I blogged: “The road to Irazu Volcano” (www.margaritapersico.com/?p=564)
    Gracias,
    Margarita Persico

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