Al Gore, Environmental Activist and U.S. Vice President, Born (1948)

One can get an argument about who is the greatest environmental U.S. president—maybe Teddy Roosevelt, maybe Richard Nixon, maybe even Abraham Lincoln.  But there can’t be much argument about the greatest environmental vice president.  Or perhaps, it is best to say the greatest environmentalist to become vice president—Al Gore.

            Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. was born on March 31, 1948.  Because his father was a U.S. representative, the young Gore was born and raised in Washington, DC.  He spent summers on the family farm in Tennessee.  He graduated from Harvard and then served in the U.S. Army, both in the U.S. and in Vietnam.  On his return from military service, he worked as a reporter and later enrolled in law school.

Al Gore (photo by Tami Heilemann, Department of Interior)

            But he quit law school to enter politics.  He served Tennessee as a Congressional Representative for four terms, from 1976 to 1984.  He then moved on to the Senate, serving from 1984 to 1992, when he became the Democratic candidate for vice president, running with Bill Clinton.  He was elected twice, serving as vice president from 1992 to 2000.  He ran for president in 2000, but lost in the highly controversial election of George W. Bush.

            Throughout his political career, Gore was an advocate for environmental sustainability.  He held the first congressional hearings on human-induced climate change in 1981.  As a senator, he pushed for a Global Marshall Plan that would address the earth’s environmental problems and solutions.  As vice president, he led efforts for climate change mitigation and for global education on environmental matters.   Through the National Academy of Sciences, he procured a NASA program to launch a satellite capable of detecting global air pollution and climate changes.  He led the Senate’s delegation to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and he signed the U.S. commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on Ozone-depletion in 1997.

            He wrote his first book about climate change, “Earth in the Balance:  Ecology and the Human Spirit,” in 1992.  In 2006, he produced a documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” based on a slide show he had prepared and shown earlier to audiences around the country and world.  The film won the Oscar for best documentary.  Gore’s first book and film made him a leading figure in the environmental movement across the world.  So much so that in 2007, Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.  The Nobel Committee cited both “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

Al Gore giving a TED Talk about the environment (photo by Erik Charlton)

            Gore has not slowed down since receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.  He has written four more books about the environment, focusing mostly on climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation.  He advised former President Barack Obama on climate and environmental matters, leading to the U.S. leadership of the Paris climate agreement (read about the Paris Agreement here).  He created a series of concerts to raise global awareness of climate change; the concerts brought together 150 famous performers in concerts in 30 countries, reaching 2 billion people in total.  He founded and provided major funding for the Climate Reality Project, which empowers “everyday people to become activists, equipped with the tools, training, and network to fight for solutions and drive change planet-wide.”  The project boasts 19,000 climate leaders in more than 150 countries.

            Gore continues to have an important role, speaking environmental truth to the rich and powerful, as well as expanding the general understanding of climate change issues.  He remains optimistic—politicians, business leaders and the public in general seem to be getting the message.  And he encourages us to be just as passionate and persistent:  “Believe in the power of your own voice.  The more noise you make, the more accountability you demand from your leaders, the more our world will change for the better.”

References:

Aldred, Jessica and Laulren Goodchild.  2007.  Timeline:  Al Gore.  The Guardian, 12 Oct 2007.  Available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/oct/12/climatechange1.  Accessed March 29, 2019.

Climate Reality Project.  Our Mission.  Available at:  https://www.climaterealityproject.org/our-mission.  Accessed March 29, 20o19.

Climate Reality Project.  2015.  Ten Times Al Gore Inspired Us to Act on Climate.  Available at:  https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/ten-times-al-gore-inspired-us-act-climate.  Accessed March 29, 2019.

Al Gore.  Climate Leadership.  Available at:  https://www.algore.com/about/the-climate-crisis.  Accessed March 29, 2019.

Nobel Organization.  The Nobel Peace Prize 2007.  Available at:  https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2007/summary/.  Accessed March 29, 2019.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
Spencer Fullerton Baird, First U.S. Fish Commissioner, Born (1823)
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Ugalde, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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