Things have gotten a little too dirty for Al Gore’s liking.
The former vice president is currently in the midst of a 24 hour live streamed Internet event, Climate Reality, hoping to clean things up. He and other environmental advocates are using the forum to educate the world on the dangers of global warming, and help people see that “dirty energy causes dirty weather.”
Gore is no stranger to discussing environmental issues, but in years past his message has fallen on somewhat deaf ears. But now, Gore says he has a few new things on his side — Nate Silver, Hurricane Sandy, social media and most of all, reality.
Gore sat down with Mashable‘s CEO Pete Cashmore to explain why now is the crucial tipping point to bring concerns about the environment to the forefront, tapping into the power of big data and social media to make his point not only heard, but accepted, and disseminated.
Political analyst Nate Silver’s 2012 election predictions — based solely on number crunching — rattled the punditry field, sparking controversy and concern. When President Barack Obama took the vote, and Silver’s projections proved true, several claimed it a win for data devotees everywhere. One of those data worshippers was Gore.
“I was one of the many who drank Nate Silver’s Kool-Aid,” Gore tells Cashmore. But more so, the victory for Silver made Gore realize the silver lining in his fight against global warming.
Gore says that just as Silver had doubters and unbelievers, so does global warming. Even though climate changes are supported by “indisputable” data, facts and statistics, there are those who fight the findings.
“It comes down to whether or not they are willing to accept the best approximation of reality,” he says.
And the place, Gore says, to build upon and discuss that reality is social media. Places like Twitter, and Facebook are allowing for a discourse on the environment that traditional media won’t touch, Gore says.
“Traditional media has become frightened to even say the word ‘climate’,” Gore says.
In social media though, what Gore calls the “collective wisdom,” filters out the wild views. Unlike broadcast media, which is a “one way medium,” social media gives the opportunity for more educating through linked articles and blogs.
Gore isn’t just all talk about his belief that change will begin with social media. He even took to Reddit today hosting an Ask Me Anything, giving people the chance to challenge or support his beliefs, but mostly generate a conversation.
And surprisingly, for a former presidential candidate, Gore doesn’t really believe that politicians are our allies when it comes to impacting change.
“Politicians are scared to talk about it because the consensus around the truth is still building,” Gore says. “They speak about generalities in the environment, infrequently.”
Coincidentally, hours before the start of start of Gore’s Climate Reality project, President Obama reinforced his support for climate issues in a press conference.
“I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions,” Obama said. “And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”
But nonetheless, Gore feels that the only way politicians will make a true push in environmental policy is by having “the masses” stand up and unite — whether online or in efforts like his Climate Reality project.
And that’s something Gore thinks most of us won’t have a choice but to do after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. The storm is something Gore says is definitely “dirty weather” and isn’t something that will back down anytime soon.
“Worldwide today, we’ll put 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere,” Gore says. “The amount of extra heat that’s trapped by man-made pollution each day is equivalent to the energy contained in 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs going off everyday.”