There is never a shortage of celebrity in Morelia. The festival attracts the best and brightest from Mexico, Latin America and indeed the rest of the world. But it’s something special when the festival gets to play host to a guest as unique and influential as a former Vice President of the United States like it did Saturday night with Al Gore.
In town to promote his climate crisis documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel,” the former VP addressed a crowded Teatro Ruben Romero. A wall of cameras and microphones pointed at the stage as the stately environmental activist sat for a half hour talk that stretched long. Once he started, it was clear he wasn’t going to stop until he addressed each issue fully.
Gore’s answers came slowly and deliberately as he picked his words carefully, making sure to keep them informative and relevant to the local crowd.
“Mexico is a fast growing emerging economy with a fantastic future ahead of it, and in developing and emerging economies there is a greater opportunity to quickly adopt renewable energy and new technologies instead of repeating the mistakes that the industrial countries made over the last 150 years,” he said.
Expanding further, Gore pointed out, “In India there are nearly as many people with no electricity as there are people in the United States. It makes no sense to build a grid for coal power plants when they can go straight to solar. And, by the way, 150 years ago if the U.S. had had this very cheap solar energy available we would have gone straight to that in the first place.”
Gore was also asked what effect current hydrocarbon extraction practices may have on earthquakes, a question all too relevant in past weeks. The activist was quick to express sorrow for those affected by the two earthquakes that recently rocked Chiapas, Oaxaca and Mexico City.
“First of all I would like to express deep condolences to the families of victims of the horrible earthquake,” he said. “To the families who have lost loved ones, the victims who are still attempting to recover and all of those impacted by this terrible tragedy.”
He continued to clarify his statements: while fracking is undoubtedly linked to smaller earthquakes and tremors, there isn’t any scientific data to link the practices to events like September’s devastating earthquakes.
“Generally, yes, there have been a lot of smaller earthquakes associated with fracking because when they pump the fluids down into the earth, that can cause some small earthquakes…the large ones, as far as I know, don’t have any connection.”
When asked about the recent Paris Climate Accords, Gore took a shot at current President Trump, refusing to blame the U.S. as a country for opting out, but instead placing the blame squarely on Trump.
“We succeeded in getting a long term goal that every country in the world except Syria and Trump agreed on, to get to net zero global warming pollution by mid-century,” he stated, in a not-isolated reference to the current president.
“I had a lot of conversations with Trump after he was elected and I actually thought there was a chance he would come to his senses, but I was wrong,” responded Gore when asked if he would try to show the film to Trump. “Since he made his speech on the Paris agreement I haven’t been in further contact with him… I hope someone shows him the movie but I don’t have much hope he will change his mind.”
Although Gore may not have much hope for Trump, he said he did come out of last year’s election with a new source of hope for American democracy that he saw in democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’s campaign.
“He proved that we have now reached a stage of development with the internet where you can now run a massively funded campaign without any lobbyist contributions, any corporate contributions, instead relying on small contributions by millions through the internet. I hope and pray that this model is tried again and is effective at the regional and local level, and that future campaigns will be far less dependent on the money that is always made available by polluters, tobacco companies and drug companies that want prices high.”
He also expressed hope for the future of our environment and a resolution to end the current climate crisis.
“We are in the early stages of a new sustainability revolution that has the scale of the industrial [revolution], but the speed of the digital revolution.”
The room was clearly uplifted upon the talk’s completion, and gave an emphatic applause as Gore said his adioses and headed off to the festival’s screening of “An Inconvenient Sequel.”