Jon Stewart vs. Al Gore

Last week Jon Stewart interviewed Al Gore on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart about Gore’s new book,Our Choice. (Our Choice is the follow up to An Inconvenient Truth and lays out solutions instead of simply explaining the problem, but please note I have not yet read this book.)  I saw something that you rarely see on The Daily Show—Stewart challenged a liberal democrat about a cause on which he agrees, and the interview resembled an intense chess match.  

Stewart shared that he believes the science, he has read the books, but he, “Still [doesn’t] know what to do.”  Why isn’t there a quick fix?

I found the interview very insightful to what the general public is probably feeling.  An Inconvient Truth was released in 2006.  I would argue that it was the film that made the general public aware that global warming and climate change is a real problem that we need to fix now.  Three years later, the problem is not only still in existence, but getting much worse.  I believe people are frustrated that there is a problem over which they have such little control.  

First off, Americans needs to feel empowered to combat climate change instead of simply feeling frustrated if we are really going to fix this problem.  Each and every one of us has the power to assess our daily lifestyle and calculate ways to decrease our carbon footprint by saving energy and using less resources (and saving money!).  Tiny changes in our lifestyles can lead to major impact.  (Take the 20% in 20 Days Challenge and reduce your own carbon footprint 20% in 20 Days by incorporating these Climate-Smart Strategies into your daily lifestyle!)

Second, any great change takes time.  Our country has spent years developing our technology and building our economy not realizing the impact we were making on our planet.  Now we understand the danger of our actions and it is time to reverse that impact through new and improved clean technology.  I, like Stewart, would have loved to see this change happen three years ago and witness this problem solved, but realistically that cannot happen.

When Stewart challenged Gore about the “one great solution,” Gore rattled off statistics about how much CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere on a daily basis.  But what I missed hearing was Gore expand about the many different solutions that are in existence today.  I also would have liked to see Gore point out that by transitioning to clean technology we are developing the green economy and creating many new jobs (such as building an infrastructure to transmit solar energy), much like Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps did to help America out of the Great Depression.  

In conclusion, this challenging time is actually a huge opportunity for America.  Stewart set up Gore to give the public not only some answers but a bit of hope during this bleak time, but since Stewart won the chess match, it was not only Gore who felt defeated, but the many Americans who witnessed the interview.