In his keynote address at Princeton University’s class day today, former vice president — and environmental crusader — Al Gore lauded President Obama’s proposal for new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would require the reduction of carbon emissions from coal plants by 30 percent by 2030.
“That’s really good news. It’s particularly important not because of the actual reduction that will come from this country alone,” but because it can serve as an effort to “secure a global agreement wherein all nations will agree to take the kinds of steps that our nation agreed to take today,” Gore told his audience. He said the proposal “re-establishes the moral authority on the part of the United State of America in leading the world community.”
Gore pointed out that even though the Obama administration’s proposal is a step in the right direction, “Today something else happened that was not as noticed. We put another 98 million tons of global harming pollution into the atmosphere surrounding our planet. That global warming pollution is trapping a lot of heat,” and “giving the earth a fever.”
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate compared the fight against global warming to the fight against apartheid in South Africa. He said that he was a student nominee for the board at Harvard “during the struggle against apartheid and it took some time, but over time it was seen as the right thing to do.”
“When the conversation was won, the laws changed,” Gore said.
“We’re winning that conversation and we got ways to go,” he said, urging his audience to be part of the revolution against climate change and pointing out the power of individuals to induce change.
After taking “their time to get a quality education and get skills,” Gore told the graduates that they are now able to change the world.
The fact “that the world has resisted change thus far is of no import,” the former vice president argued, quoting the poet Wallace Stevens: “After the last no comes a yes. And on that yes the future of the world depends.”
“When people gather here a decade from now and hear that this year’s class is the greatest class ever,” Gore said, they will either ask “why didn’t you act?” or “how did you find the moral courage … to make changes that were so essential?”