Monday, February 18, 2013

Al Gore gives fiery talk at Clinton Presidential Library

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Former Vice-president Al Gore gave a talk discussing his new book this evening at an invitation-only event at the Clinton Presidential Library, with students of the Clinton School of Public Service and a who’s who of local politcos in attendance, including David Pryor, Dale Bumpers, and Mack McLarty.

"The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change" is Gore’s attempt to forecast and explain radical changes coming to the world through globalization, technology, scientific advances, medical advances, artificial life and artificial intelligence, outsourcing of jobs to robots and mechanization, increasing inequality, overpopulation, the Internet, erosion of democratic institutions, genetic engineering, murkier identities of nation states, climate change….And so on! Really, there’s much more, and Gore crams a dizzying array of world-historical trends into his six sweeping and interrelated “drivers,” each with a catchy tag like “Earth, Inc.” or “The Global Mind.”

He argues convincingly in the book that “there is no prior period of change that remotely resembles what humanity is about to experience.” Despite the hefty ambition and sweeping scope, it’s actually a relatively breezy read, recalling the style of best-selling writer Malcolm Gladwell, cited approvingly a few times in the book. Like Gladwell, Gore offers a big survey of big ideas from the social and hard sciences, replete with fun factoids — Genetic engineers have created goats that secrete spider silk from their udders! Seventy percent of pictures on Facebook are posted by women!

While the book is measured and professorial, his talk was fiery and passionate, as preacherly as it was erudite. Al Gore may be wonky but he’s mad as hell. The crowd ate it up. Having grown up with Gore as my U.S. Senator in Tennessee, I was struck by the oft-noted contrast between the young Al Gore, a careful, often stiff politician seeking establishment approval — and the old Al Gore, a tell-it-like-it-is firebrand with a cult following among idealistic young liberals.

Unsurprisingly, his passion reached its highest pitch on the topic of climate change, though he was equally fired up about the corroding influence of moneyed special interests in the U.S. democracy.

He closed with a call to arms:

We have the opportunity to seize the future. Aristotle wrote that the end of the thing defines its nature. What is our end destined to be? Should, God forbid, we not rise to the occasion and these incredibly powerful changes sweep us along and bring about an end to civilization — as the scientists say, certainly, the climate crisis can — what does that say about our nature? Or to put it another way, who are we as human beings? Are we destined to prove the proposition that the combination of opposable thumbs and the neocortex was just a big mistake? Are we destined to be creatures that destroy our own future? I refuse to believe that! I refuse to accept that! I know what men and women in Arkansas and Tennessee and throughout this country are made of. And we have our limitations, and we can make mistakes. But when the chips are down and the stakes are high, we, all of us as human beings — and particularly those of us whose minds have had the opportunity to be freed in our country’s system — have the ability to rise to challenges and seize the moment when it is necessary to do so. I hope you will help to save our future and make it worthy of our children.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Speaking of...

Comments (18)

Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge strikes down Arkansas same-sex marriage ban

    Federal Judge Kristine Baker has struck down Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage. I'll have the decision for you shortly.
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • Susan Inman rips MIA Mark Martin

    Susan Inman, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, opened her appearance on AETN's debate this morning by emphasizing incumbent Republican Mark Martin's absence from the debate and the new Blue Hog reporting on Facebook evidence that Martin spends dozens of work days at home in Prairie Grove, not at work in the Capitol.
    • Oct 15, 2014
  • Protest planned for Rapert campaign event at UCA

    UCA student James Thweatt is leading a protest group that plans to demonstrate at a Jason Rapert campaign event at 7 p.m. tonight at the Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA.
    • Oct 21, 2014

Most Shared

  • The museum of yet to come at the University of Arkansas

    At the McMillon Family Retail Innovation and Technology Lab, students and faculty are creating a space that will give both visitors and companies a vital glimpse of the stores, products and consumer habits of the future.
  • The Mansion takeover: Of course it was Hutchinson's idea

    Of course the take over of the Governor's Mansion by Asa Hutchinson was his idea, not that of legislators who claimed credit. And the reason portends changes in historic appearance and use of what was once the people's mansion.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments




© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation