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Gore Urges Obama To Take Lead On Climate Change

Three years ago, former Vice President Al Gore won an Academy Award for his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, about global warming. But he hasn't given up pushing his cause: Now Gore has released a new book, called Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Global Climate Crisis.

At the end of the book, he writes a hypothetical, optimistic history of an upcoming event: "In December of 2009, all the nations of the world gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, to negotiate a global treaty that many, even then, thought was impossible. Later, it was strengthened. And in 2010, an idealistic new generation took the initiative and changed the political tone in nation after nation."

But there has been warning that next month's United Nations conference in Copenhagen won't achieve a meaningful agreement on climate change.

Gore tells NPR's Robert Siegel that he hopes President Obama will go to the conference to send a message. He says that if the Senate passes legislation on climate change before then, Obama will have a "strengthened hand."

"The United States is still the acknowledged leader of the world, and we have the largest economy in the world, and we're one of the two largest emitters of global warming pollution," he says. "Unless the United States plays its customary leadership role, it would be impossible to resolve this crisis. But with the United States leading in a responsible way, we can."

But Gore also has been accused of profiting as an investor from some of the green-energy policies that, as an advocate, he urged Congress to adopt.

"I've given away everything and more that's attributable to anything of that sort," Gore says. "The majority of my business career over the last nine years, since I left public service, has been focused on other areas: Internet, information technology and the like. But I have made some investments in the things that I believe in.

"If I were not to do so, I would be accused by these same people of being a hypocrite. I have donated all of that and more to the Alliance of Climate Protection, a nonprofit that focuses on raising awareness to the climate crisis and the solutions to the same."

For decades, Gore has urged consumers to adopt green changes to their lifestyles that might help put a dent in global warming. But when asked if progress has been made on this front, he says, "some."

"We have made some progress, but the burning of fossil fuels and the rapid deforestation under way in many countries — particularly tropical countries — has moved ahead much faster," Gore says.

He adds: "In writing this book over the last 3 1/2 years, I came to the conclusion that we have all of the tools we need to solve three or four climate crises — and we only have to solve one. But we have to choose to do it."

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