The Climate Reality Leadership Corps

When former U.S. Vice President Al Gore founded the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in 2007, his mission was simple: to educate and motivate others to drive change.Truth has its own integrity, reality, and power.  Its force can break down walls of resistance no matter how tall or how strong.” (Climate Reality Chairman and Founder Al Gore)

Climate-Reality-Leaders-Ist

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps was established on the premise that true change can happen only after reality is embraced.  Since 2007, the program has held 25 trainings in countries across the globe. Last year, trainings were held in Istanbul and Chicago.  This year: South Africa, Australia, and Brazil.  During a period of three days, a global network of activists join together to learn from world-class scientists and technical specialists about the science behind climate change. The training also encompasses lessons in public speaking, communication and media engagement.  The goal?  That these newly emerged leaders will leave the training and subsequently educate their own communities on both problem and solution.

The current network spans across 117 different countries. Over 6,000 trained climate leaders and 5 million supporters have united in common objective: “to uncover the complete truth about the climate crisis in a way that ignites moral courage in each of us”.  Attempting to use the power of collective voices to demand change puts social movement to the test.  But – social movements have, at times, moved the needle.  Civil rights. The Berlin Wall.  The American Revolution. The French Revolution. The Arab Spring. The list goes on.

Today, the debate around climate change has intensified. The way I see it, there are four core schools of thought around climate crisis (or the lack thereof).

  1. It’s not happening at all.
  2. It’s happening, it’s an issue, and it’s man-made.
  3. It’s happening, it’s an issue, and it’s caused by natural forces.
  4. It’s happening, but it’s not an issue.

The first school of thought points to data over the last fifteen years and notes that even with increased emissions of carbon dioxide, the global temperature actually has not risen at all.  Yes, over the last 50 years, the temperature has escalated, but more recently – no. They also feel that there is a large amount of variance in the data and scoff at the numerous scientists’ charts portraying temperature increases.

The second philosophy (and, arguably, the loudest) is that corporations and individuals are emitting colossal amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – at levels we simply cannot sustain. That demand for oil and gas has increased to frightening levels.  That the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) is trapping the sun’s energy as heat and that warmer temperatures have drastic consequences for the entire world.  The argument here is that there is a solution – and we must act now.  That fossil fuels must be replaced with clean energy alternatives.  That leaders around the globe should exact a market price on carbon and force companies to take responsibility for the negative externalities they are imposing on the environment. The extremists in this camp assert that we’ve reached the point of no return.  That the temperature is lagging the amount of carbon dioxide actually in the atmosphere.  That even if the entire world ceased to emit one more molecule of carbon dioxide, the temperature would still increase because the amount of carbon dioxide already in the air is so great.  Let’s hope the extremists are wrong.

The third dogma is quite simple.  The sun is getting hotter on its own, and there is nothing we can do about it. (The way I see it, this is the most frightening outcome.  At least if individuals and corporations are the root of the problem, there’s hope of mitigating the issue.  The major impediment to humankind would be: climate crisis is real, it’s caused by natural forces, and there is absolutely nothing we can do.)

Last but not least, there are those that deny any existence of a climate crisis.  This ensemble would assert the following: yes, carbon is being emitted into the air, yes demand for fossil fuels has grown, yes the temperature has warmed…so what? The earth has been a lot warmer and colder than it is today. A sub-philosophy within this school of thought is that plants actually benefit from carbon dioxide, in fact need carbon dioxide to produce water and oxygen, and this advantageous vegetation is an offsetting factor to CO2’s negative consequences.

Two weeks from today…

Exactly 14 days from now, on November 4th, thousands will congregate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2014 Climate Reality Leadership Corps.  I leave for Brazil in two weeks.  Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “The Climate Reality Leadership Corps

  1. Good luck, Sustainable Investor, at Climate Reality training! I will be interested to hear your take on the 4 camps/schools of thought you put forth in this post when you come back from Brazil. As someone who’s done the training and has given about 30 Climate Reality talks (giving one on Thursday, in fact) over the last 2+ years, I can tell you it is an eye-opening experience, with the highlight being a full day of training given by Vice President Gore.

    In this post, you offer no opinion on which camp (or camps) you think are most valid. Prior to heading to Brazil, which camp do you fall in to?

    On the camps, it’s important to make some distinctions–the camps you describe are among the general public–most of whom have paid little or no attention to this issue. If you instead make your population “climate scientists”, people who make their livings studying climate, climate change and its effects, you would see only 2 camps…97-98% who say climate change, it’s real, it’s human caused, and 2-3% who are skeptical. Further, you’d also find that perhaps 60-70% of the 97-98% of clim think climate change is the most serious challenge facing humanity over the next century.

    So, while you call the folks who think we are at a tipping point on carbon emissions “extremists”, I call them “a solid majority of climate scientists who have published peer reviewed journal articles”. I also call them “your Climate Reality Training Class in Brazil.” So bring a healthy skepticism down there, an open mind and perhaps a word other than “extremists” when you chat with your fellow Climate Reality travelers. 🙂

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  2. “the extremists say we have hit the point of no return.” Yes, they are extremists, but only if we act now! I agree with you as does Al Gore. In a speech recently he said that there is hope, that we have not hit the point of no return.” That there is still time for the negative effects to be reversed.”
    Have a great time in Brazil. There is still hope! Josh

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  3. I read the same Al Gore article in Rolling Stone- that there is still time to right the ship. He mentioned the decrease in the cost of solar, as well as the large increase in renewable energy sources. He mentioned 150 coal plants that have been cancelled. We need to start decommissioning coal plants. But are we at the point of no return? Are we at the tipping point where the temperature will increase past the points of safety even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide? I hope not

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  4. Ah now I see–I didn’t understand your use of the term “extremist”…”Fatalist” might be even a better term. Oh hell yeah, I am certain there are solutions to the problems and know that VP Gore believes we are at a tipping point towards the solutions end rather than the failure end. I am cautiously optimistic but know that we (i.e. humanity) needs to move faster and bigger.

    Anyway, in September, Mr. Gore and Climate Reality produced “24 Hours of Reality”, an online full day of climate discussion–but this time from a foundation of hope. Here’s the link to video highlights: http://climaterealityproject.org/video/24-hours-reality-24-reasons-hope. Have a great time in Brazil!

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