Gore discusses new Climate Reality after hottest July on record

Last week, I had the honor of attending a training session for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project in San Francisco. The training was broken down into two days. On day one, Al Gore presented the content of his new slideshow entitled “The Reality of the Climate Crisis and Its Solutions”. On day two, media and communications experts trained the audience in how to present the slideshow to their local communities. Over 800 people of varied backgrounds attended the training from 53 countries and 47 states within the U.S. Teachers, high school students, concerned parents, religious leaders, lawyers, engineers, and others all came together to participate and train.

The goal of the slideshow is to promote the notion that climate change is real, urgent, and solvable. This was also the goal of the original slideshow which reached an audience of over 7 million (so 1 in 1000 on a planet of 7 billion) through previous trainings of over 3,500 people who delivered 75,000 presentations.

The content is decidedly different and much narrower from the slideshow delivered by Gore in An Inconvenient Truth. There are no slides about impending sea level rise or melting ice sheets or even an explanation of the greenhouse effect. This new slideshow focuses simply on conveying that the droughts, floods, and heat waves of 2011 and 2012 are the new “climate reality”. Gore mentioned in a recent interview, “Every night on the news now is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”

To illustrate the new reality, a pair of dice was given to every trainee, designed by NASA Climatologist James Hansen, one to describe the previous climate pattern and the other to describe the new climate norm. In the previous climate, a summer had an equal chance of being cool, average, or warm, so the right die has two blue sides, two white sides, and two red sides. In the new climate, the odds are very different: one blue side, one white side, three red sides, and one fire side to represent extreme heat.

Even with the hottest July on record and nine of 10 hottest years on record occurring in the past decade, many deniers are not convinced by facts. So whereas the last slideshow was laden with charts, data, and scientific explanation, the new slideshow is largely pictures and stories, so that audiences can visualize the damage of new weather patterns, potentially draw parallels to their experiences (such as the current U.S. drought), and hopefully connect the dots to climate change.

To motivate the audience to act, the last portion of the slideshow focused on how clean energy (particularly wind and solar) is growing at a pace that was well underestimated and that this fact should be a source of optimism. Trainees from most other nations were decidedly underwhelmed by this brief “solutions” portion of the slideshow. The content only focused on renewable energy and did not even cover efficiency solutions or individual action (such as voting and consumer purchase). A participant from Indonesia remarked to Gore that there is virtually no climate change denial in his country, and so they do not need to spend any time convincing the audience that climate change is real. They simply want to discuss solutions and get the audience motivated to act immediately!

Admittedly, the training was somewhat U.S. centric in this regard, where skepticism and denial still exist to a large degree. Additional Asia and Europe-based trainings are planned in the coming months for more action-oriented countries. Meanwhile, the Climate Reality Project team is planning to launch a new website called “Reality Drop” which will focus on actively combating deniers in the U.S. through online, print, and TV media. Climate deniers are not afraid to make their opinions heard loud and clear (just look at the comments section of the embedded YouTube video above), but the same cannot be said for climate believers. So as Climate Reality trainees, we were instructed to give Gore’s slideshow in our communities but also to actively respond to all op-eds and online commentary that promote climate denial. As for me, I will be incorporating eco-rap into my slideshow and denial fighting tactics, “dropping” knowledge and reality all over the place.