Former Vice president Al Gore on Friday refuted claims that global warning is a myth, saying that 97 to 98 percent of the worlds’ scientists attest to its veracity.
Gore was the keynote speaker at the inauguration of Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash Friday. The theme of Lash’s inauguration was “Educating for Change: critical thinking in a critical time.”
“Now there are some talk radio show hosts, they say that (global warming is) not (real),” Gore said. “It’s up to you; my point is we must respond. What the scientists tell us is going to take place if we do not is too awful to contemplate.”
Just before Gore spoke, he was he introduced by Hampshire alumnus Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of the New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm, who announced a $1 million donation to the college for its commitment to the environment.
Gore, who spoke for about 20 minutes before the more than 2,000 people who packed the tent on the campus lawn, told stories about growing up in Nashville, Tenn., at a time of the civil rights movement and the need to address injustice. He spent just a few minutes addressing the environment and global warming.
In 2007, Gore won the Nobel Prize with the U.N Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “An Inconvenient Truth,” a film about his campaign to educate people about global warming, won two Oscars in 2006. Since then some have contested the veracity of the claims that climate change is caused by humans.
Gore said that some claim environmental change is caused by sunspots or volcanoes. “That’s not true. It’s an urgent problem that requires urgent attention and must be addressed,” he said.
Gore told students that some doubted the wisdom of President John F. Kennedy saying in the early 1960s that the United State would land on the moon within a decade. “You will have the opportunity to do things greater than you can possibly imagine,” Gore said. “And now is the time. We need an American spring this spring. We need to occupy democracy.”
Those remarks drew wild applause. Gore did not take questions or meet with the media. According to campus officials, he was on a tight schedule. He and Lash have been friends for decades.
In his remarks following officially becoming the sixth president of Hamphire College, Lash also spoke of his concern for the environment. “I think what we are doing to our earth is stupid, wrong, short-sighted and completely unnecessary,” Lash, who described himself as a “card-carrying greenie,” said.
Lash referred to this time as belonging to the Anthropocene era, which some scientists are calling a new geologic era.
“Part of my role at Hampshire will be to be relentless and ambitious about what our community can do to live, and prepare our students to thrive in the Anthropocene,” Lash said. “How can we link our farm and our food, our curriculum and our operations, our understanding of culture and art, and our notion of humankind’s place on earth to make a difference in the course of events.”
He outlined seven ways in which the college is addressing these issues, including a climate action project to make the college operations “climate neutral” in 10 years. Another project is a major upgrade of the Robert Crown Center that will result in a major reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings. And with money from Hirschberg, he said the college is undertaking a “comprehensive program seeking transitions in the way Hampshire feeds itself, uses its farm, operates its campus…and defines its culture.”
The two-hour ceremony featured many speakers welcoming Lash and musical interludes.