Al Gore: The world can't wait for George Bush Bali climate change summit hears a passionate appeal for action by the Nobel Prize-winner.

We, the human species, face a planetary emergency. That phrase still sounds shrill to some ears but it is deadly accurate as a description of the situation that we now confront. The accumulation of greenhouse gases continues to trap more and more heat from the sun in our atmosphere threatening the stable climate balance that has been an unappreciated but crucial assumption for the development of human civilisation.

Just this week new evidence has been presented. I remember years ago listening to the scientists who specialise in the study of ice and snow express concern that some time towards the end of the 21st century we might even face the possibility of losing the entire north polar ice cap. I remember only three years ago when they revised their estimates to say it could happen halfway through the 21st century, by 2050.

I remember at the beginning of this year when I was shocked to hear them say it could happen in as little as 34 years and now, this week, they tell us it could completely disappear in as little as five to seven years. A sense of urgency that is appropriate for this challenge is itself a challenge to our own moral imagination. It is up to us in this generation to see clearly and vividly exactly what is going on.

Twenty of the 21 hottest years ever measured in atmospheric record have come in the last 25 years – the hottest of all in 2005, this year on track to be the second hottest of all. This is not natural variation. It is far beyond the bounds of natural variation and the scientists have told us so over and over again with increasing alarm. But because our new relationship to the earth is unprecedented we have been slow to act. And because CO2 is invisible, it is easy for us to put the climate crisis out of sight and out of mind until we see the consequences beginning to unfold. D

espite a growing number of honourable exceptions, too many of the world's leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill used in 1938 when he described those who were ignoring the threat posed by Adolf Hitler. He said, and I quote: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only be undecided, resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent."

I am not an official of the United States and I am not bound by the diplomatic niceties. So I am going to speak an inconvenient truth. My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali. We all know that. But my country is not the only one that can take steps to ensure that we move forward from Bali with progress and with hope.

Over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now. You must anticipate that. Just in the last few days, on the eve of this meeting, I have received more than 350,000 emails from Americans asking me to say to you: "We're going to change in the United States of America."


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