Climate change hangs like Damocles’ sword over metropolises around the globe. With torrential rains and floodings occurring almost on a daily basis, the menace has become omnipresent. Al Gore, former Vice President of the USA, has been fighting for many years to raise awareness of the dangers of global warming. As the front man of his own climate initiative he is viewed as one of the most influential non-political figures in the environmental arena. Despite scathing criticism, Gore never considered letting go of his mission. What keeps the man who was once ridiculed as the climate clown going? An encounter.
Predictions become reality
Miami Beach has choked. On the waters of the Atlantic. The ocean has inundated the city knee-high on this bluer-than-blue summer day. Streets have become rivers, squares are now lakes. The sun is scorching and the air threatens to burst with humidity as streams of perspiration are running down mayor Philip Levine’s face. Together with Al Gore and a few others he is watching the pumps that were supposed to keep Miami Beach dry. They turned out to be completely useless. “With these new high tides that came in … you can’t do anything for it”, says Levine. It is the melting glaciers in Greenland and at the polar ice caps that cause these floods. Parts of the city will be moved to a higher, safer level. “What level of sea level rise is this designed to protect against?”, Al Gore wants to know. His rubber boots are overflowing with brackish water. “We are building in one foot of sea level rise”, one of the experts in the group says. “Kinda hard to pump the ocean,” Gore replies.
Al Gore presents An Inconvenient Sequel
In Berlin, former US Vice President turned full-time climate protector Al Gore has no need for rubber boots. Not a single cloud mars the sky spanning across the teeming crowds at the Brandenburg Gate. It is an uneventful day in Germany’s capital – quite different from only a few weeks ago when torrential rains flooded the streets and pulled the legs from under a number of pedestrians. Gore is in Berlin to present his new film, An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power. The scene in Miami is taken from it. He will talk to journalists and politicians about the threats that come with climate change until far into the night.
Meeting the Nobel Laureate in Berlin
Al Gore has a pleasantly firm handshake and attentively looks into my face. His hair has thinned and taken a further turn towards white, his face has become more rotund than it was a few years back. He speaks articulately, with a deep, crispy voice which instantly draws one’s full attention. “I wish I had more time”, he says apologetically right away, pointing to his tight schedule. He is wearing cowboy boots – together with a suit. “They are 30 something years old. If I go on a long trip, they are the most comfortable footwear I have”, he says looking down to his creaking boots that give a strange kind of angular appearance to his strides. Gore’s jacket lapel sports a bright green ring, the size of a thumbnail – he wears it like a medal. It is the symbol of The Climate Reality Project that Gore founded shortly after the release of his first film, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006. The organisation – with Gore as the front man – trains people across the world to become climate activists who after completing their training will teach others.
From slide show to Oscar
Before An Inconvenient Truth came out, Gore had been travelling across the US for years to warn against the fallout of the climate crisis as he calls it. With the film, he began reaching out to a mass audience. The documentary was based on a “slide show”, as it was mocked by some, that he had been using – and still uses – as he travelled from one lecture to the next (rumour has it that it now comprises a collection of more than 30,000 slides). The response to the documentary was huge even partially vicious: critics accused Gore of propaganda, claiming he was over-exaggerating. He was ridiculed as the climate clown – despite the fact that many scientists seemed to support Gore’s narrative. Gore himself, incidentally, was not at all convinced of his undertaking, as he later admitted in a Norwegian TV show. “When I was first approached with the idea of making the slide show into a movie, I thought it was a terrible idea. But there are some talented people in Hollywood who know what they are doing.”