Talking change and resilience with Al Gore

The major influencer and environmental activist shares why we shouldn't despair during tough times

Former US Vice President Al Gore, well-known for his work on global warming, stopped by Microsoft to chat about how we can make changes in the world during desperate times.

Gore recently launched a follow-up to his first documentary called “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: Your Action Handbook to Learn the Science, Find Your Voice, and Help Solve the Climate Crisis.”

Watch some quick snippets of his full talk with Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, Rob Bernard, and check out the abridged transcript below.

YouTube Video

On our capacity to change

Al Gore: There’s a famous economist, Rudi Dornbusch, who said that things take longer to happen than you think they will. And then, they happen much faster than you thought they could.

We’re all familiar with that [sentiment] in technology deployments and in cost downcurves, but it often happens in politics as well.

If somebody had told me even five years ago that in the year 2017 gay marriage would be legal in all 50 states and honored and accepted and celebrated by two-thirds of the American people, I would’ve said, “Well I sure hope so, but what are you smoking?”

And yet when it was resolved into a binary choice between right and wrong, things really moved fast.

I think that’s where we are—real close to that tipping point on climate.

We will change, but it’s premised on your willingness to continue being a part of that change.

On achieving the impossible

Al Gore: Despair is just another form of denial. We don’t have time for it. We’ve got work to do.

During the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela said, “It’s always impossible until it’s done.”

And that’s where we are. You can choose despair. You can choose to say, “Party on . . . nothing we can do.” Or you can choose to feel that history is challenging those of us alive in this time to rise to this challenge.

Yeah, it’s hard. Of course, it’s hard. But it is a privilege to have a task before us that justifies pouring all our energy into it.

On resilience

Al Gore: I learned in my life to recognize the reality of the human condition. There are people in this audience who are not telling you about it, but they are carrying some really heavy burdens. And I don’t know who you are, but I know that you’re here.

There are people who go through incredibly painful experiences, and they pick themselves up, and they go on with their lives. And one of the secrets of the human condition is that suffering binds people together.

When I went through hardships earlier in my life, I was deeply moved by people who I didn’t even know, who had gone through similar experiences who came up and really expressed such powerful empathy and helped me to get through that.
Resilience is in your heart and in your mind and in your character.

There’s an old African proverb: when you pray, move your feet. Shuffle off any kind of despair and just get moving and get acting. That brings the hope. That brings the energy.