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SPIEGEL Interview with Al Gore: ‘I Am Optimistic’

In a SPIEGEL interview, former US vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, 61, discusses Barack Obama’s environmental policies, the endless push by lobbyists to derail reforms and his hopes for a global deal at the climate change summit in Copenhagen next month.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Vice President, you write in your new book, “Our Choice,” (to be published in German translation on Nov. 23 as “Wir Haben Die Wahl”) that we have at our fingertips all of the tools that we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient would be collective will. What makes it so hard for governments to implement change even though most people know what needs to be done?

Gore: As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the excepti in Copenhagen next month.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Vice President, you write in your new book, “Our Choice,” (to be published in German translation on Nov. 23 as “Wir Haben Die Wahl”) that we have at our fingertips all of the tools that we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient would be collective will. What makes it so hard for governments to implement change even though most people know what needs to be done?

Gore: As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions. Neuroscientists point out that we are inherently better able to respond quickly to the kinds of threats that our evolutionary ancestors survived — like other humans with weapons, snakes and spiders or fire. Also, there is a real-time lag between the causes of the climate crisis and its full manifestation. That makes it seem less urgent to many people… More

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