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Al Gore on Climate Change Battle: 'We Are Solving This Crisis'

The toll of global warming is wreaking tremendous havoc, with the TV news sounding like excerpts from the Book of Revelation.

Bret Hartman/TED

As bad as things are — and they are bad — Al Gore says he is increasingly convinced that humanity will prevail in the climate change battle he has long warned about.

Harnessing the skills of both science expert and Tennessee preacher, Gore gave a fiery TED talk Wednesday that began with photos and statistics highlighting just how bad global warming has already gotten. But he ended with signs of hope showing evidence that humans can and will shift to renewable energy.

“I have some bad news but I have a lot more good news,” Gore said, speaking 10 years after his last TED speech on global warming.

To highlight the extent of the current problem, Gore showed images of flooding in Chile and India, fires in Australia and ice melting in Norway. Every night, the TV news sounds like something out of the Book of Revelation, he said. On the statistical front, Gore noted the amount of energy being pumped into the atmosphere is equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima explosions being set off every day.

“It’s a big planet, but that is a lot of energy,” Gore said.

But just as the gloom and doom was washing over the crowd, Gore sounded a hopeful note, highlighting ways that humans can and are changing things. Gore showed a chart of global wind energy capacity increasing more than a thousandfold between 2000 and 2014. In 2002, he said, it was projected that the solar energy market would grow by one gigawatt per year by 2010, a goal that was exceeded 17 times over. By 2015, solar energy growth was 58 times higher.

“I am extremely optimistic,” he said. “We are going to win this. … We are solving this crisis.”

While professing he is still new to business, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers partner and Apple board member said it was the drop in cost that made the biggest difference. It turns out cheaper matters, he said with a shrug.

Gore gave a little free investment advice, too. “This is the biggest new business opportunity in the history of the world.”

While he seemed confident apocalypse can be avoided, he noted that the speed of change is important in terms of the damage the planet will suffer.

“It matters a lot how fast we win it,” he said.

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