WE, the human species, have arrived at a moment of decision.
It is unprecedented and even laughable for us to imagine that we could actually
make a conscious choice as a species, but that is nevertheless the challenge
that is before us.
Our home, Earth, is in danger. What is at risk of being destroyed
is not the planet itself, but the conditions that have made it hospitable
for human beings.
Without realizing the consequences of our actions, we have begun to put so
much carbon dioxide into the thin shell of air surrounding our world that
we have literally changed the heat balance between Earth and the Sun. If we
donÂ¹t stop doing this pretty quickly, the average temperature will increase
to levels humans have never known and put an end to the favorable climate
balance on which our civilization depends.
In the last 150 years, in an accelerating frenzy, we have been removing increasing
quantities of carbon from the ground, mainly in the form of coal and
oil, and burning it in ways that dump 70 million tons of CO2 every
24 hours into the EarthÂ¹s atmosphere.
Similarly, at the other end of the planet, near the South Pole, scientists
have found new evidence of snow melting in West Antarctica across an area
as large as California.
This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue, one that affects the
survival of human civilization. It is not a question of left versus right;
it is a question of right versus wrong. Put simply, it is wrong to destroy
the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every generation
that follows ours.
On Sept. 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, Â³In our obsession with
antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members
of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to recognize this
common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences would vanish
if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.Â² … ..
Al Gore, vice president from 1993 to 2001, is the chairman of the Alliance
for Climate Protection. He is the author, most recently, of The Assault