To Preserve Green Globe, Gore Warns of Warming Crisis

    Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a lecture about the imminent threats of global warming at UCSD on May 21 as part of his nationwide tour of universities to discuss the environment’s failing health.

    Free to the public, tickets for the event ran out within one hour.

    Roger Revelle, Gore’s mentor and professor at Harvard University and the founder of UCSD’s first college, along with his colleague, Charles David Keeling, began collecting carbon dioxide emissions off the planet’s oceans at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1958 and charted increasing carbon dioxide levels that contributed to what came to be known as the greenhouse effect.

    Taking Revelle’s pioneering research to heart, Gore has made global warming a primary focus of his political career, as reflected in his highly publicized, Academy Award-winning 2006 documentary “”An Inconvenient Truth.””

    Chancellor Marye Anne Fox led the event’s opening, which also featured an introduction by Ellen Scripps Revelle, Roger Revelle’s widow and prominent figure in the SIO community.

    “”As Roger’s student, Al took a kernel of his ideas at Harvard and taught it – not just in one class or one college – but all over the nation and world to bring light to the dangers of global warming,”” Ellen Revelle said. “”His message is especially important to America because we have contributed the most to global warming; at last, even our present administration is beginning to admit it.””

    Gore’s lecture opened with jokes about the current administration’s apprehensiveness about directly facing the issue of global warming.

    But the laughter soon faded as Gore argued for the urgency of battling global warming with a time comparison slideshow that revealed the aesthetic decline of monumental sites such as Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Patagonia in Argentina and Asia’s Himalaya Mountains, from which 40 percent of all humans receive their drinking water.

    “”If we allow something like this to continue, it would be the most unforgiving act ever committed by any generation – we just can’t let this happen,”” Gore said.

    Gore framed his lecture around discussions of the detrimental effects global warming has wreaked on different areas of the earth, such as Antarctica, where the measurement of carbon dioxide levels reached 383 parts per million in the last century – the highest peak in seven ice ages. Previously, the carbon dioxide levels never passed 300 ppm.

    Gore also discussed recent events such as the Los Angeles and Catalina Island wildfires and the recent tornado in Kansas, stressing that the increase in natural disasters is not a reoccurring coincidence.

    His lecture hit close to home with a discussion of Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophe that has left 50,000 people homeless.

    “”I personally believe that it is unacceptable for a city to still look like this,”” Gore said. “”Is terrorism the only thing we need to worry about? Is this issue an inconvenient truth – are these warnings going to be ignored?””

    Humans emit 70 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – 30.3 percent contributed by the United States alone – and 25 tons are absorbed by the oceans every 24 hours, according to Gore.

    Every 20-foot increase in sea level is estimated to displace over 400 million people; the earth’s population has also quadrupled in the past decade, causing a drastic increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

    Throughout his lecture, bystanders were chanting Gore’s name and passing around petitions in support of a speculative presidential run in 2008. But the politician seemed unfazed by banners alluding to a potential candidacy, never breaking his focus on the worldwide threat of global warming.

    “”The United States must get involved with the global community and provide leadership – do we have the capability as Americans to do this, or have we lost it?”” Gore said. “”I hope and pray that you will be part of the global movement for moral and ethical consciousness to protect our environment for ourselves and future generations.””

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