Al Gore Tells Congress: Solving the Climate Crisis Solves Economic and National Security Concerns
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My opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today:
We are here today to talk about how we as Americans and how the United States of America as part of the global community should address the dangerous and growing threat of the climate crisis.
We have arrived at a moment of decision. Our home -- Earth -- is in grave danger. What is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.
Moreover, we must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization at a time when our country must simultaneously solve two other worsening crises. Our economy is in its deepest recession since the 1930s. And our national security is endangered by a vicious terrorist network and the complex challenge of ending the war in Iraq honorably while winning the military and political struggle in Afghanistan.
As we search for solutions to all three of these challenges, it is becoming clearer that they are linked by a common thread -- our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels. As long as we continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars for foreign oil -- year after year -- to the most dangerous and unstable regions of the world, our national security will continue to be at risk.
As long as we continue to allow our economy to remain shackled to the OPEC rollercoaster of rising and falling oil prices, our jobs and our way of life will remain at risk.
Moreover, as the demand for oil worldwide grows rapidly over the longer term, even as the rate of new discoveries is falling, it is increasingly obvious that the roller coaster is headed for a crash. And we're in the front car.
Most importantly, as long as we continue to depend on dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil to meet our energy needs, and dump 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, we move closer and closer to several dangerous tipping points which scientists have repeatedly warned -- again just yesterday -- will threaten to make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable destruction of the conditions that make human civilization possible on this planet.
We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.
For years our efforts to address the growing climate crisis have been undermined by the idea that we must choose between our planet and our way of life; between our moral duty and our economic well being. These are false choices. In fact, the solutions to the climate crisis are the very same solutions that will address our economic and national security crises as well.
In order to repower our economy, restore American economic and moral leadership in the world and regain control of our destiny, we must take bold action now.
The first step is already before us. I urge this Congress to quickly pass the entirety of President Obama's Recovery package. The plan's unprecedented and critical investments in four key areas -- energy efficiency, renewables, a unified national energy grid and the move to clean cars -- represent an important down payment and are long overdue. These crucial investments will create millions of new jobs and hasten our economic recovery -- while strengthening our national security and beginning to solve the climate crisis.