Wise Leadership Interview Series: Al Gore Puts Sustainability in the Spotlight

Caitlin Krause
Nov 5, 2017 · 9 min read

Al Gore talks about making An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: “When discussions about a sequel began several years ago… when it came to the 10-year anniversary that seemed like a good marker to say, Okay, here’s what’s new.”

In each of these series of interviews, we spend 7 minutes (or more, in this case!) talking with vital voices on leadership. In October 2017, we joined Al Gore in conversation, whose film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power featured at this year’s Zurich Film Festival. The following words are all Al’s; the headlines are our questions and themes.

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Does the existence of a sequel mean that the critical climate change message of the first film (An Inconvenient Truth) wasn’t received, and the film didn’t achieve its purpose?

Since the Paris Agreement, India, for example, has done a complete u-turn. They’ve closed 37 coal mines this year… they are going all-out to build solar installations. India just announced that, within only 13 years, 100% of all their new cars and trucks must be electric vehicles. And we are seeing that same commitment made by Norway and Denmark, even more quickly.

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It’s Electric. How are leaders’ approaches to energy changing?

“It’s like a race between the development of political will and the onrushing crisis that we have caused with this heat-trapping pollution.” — Al Gore

In the film, Gore says, “We’re not talking about a climate crisis, we’re talking about a democracy crisis.”

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How is there hope in the midst of a leadership crisis?

How is the new generation different, and looking for new answers?

What about the Future of Jobs?

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On the Subject of the Paris Agreement & Denial

“We are moving. We are going to solve this crisis.” — Al Gore

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A Matter of Timing

“I don’t even play a scientist on television. I just channel the knowledge that (the experts) very patiently put in simple enough terms for me to understand.” — Al Gore

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“Ours can be the first generation to end poverty — and the last generation to address climate change before it is too late.” — Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General 2007–2016, at the announcement of the Sustainable Development Goals

There have been those times in history when humanity has risen to the challenge of creating a better future.

“Now is the time for us to steer by the stars and not by the lights of each passing ship.” — General George Marshall

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And, why put out another movie, well that’s the reason, to try to refresh that awareness of just how important these decisions that lie immediately before us really are.

On Calmness & Reason

There are some things that I miss about being in public service… I have hope that positive change is underway… In the presidential election last year, one of the least remarked-upon developments was one of the other Democratic Candidates, Bernie Sanders, regardless of how you feel about his proposals or policies, he demonstrated that it is now possible with the internet to finance a very robust and potentially successful campaign without taking any money from lobbyists or big wealthy contributors, but relying solely on small contributions over the internet. I think that is a very positive development…

You know, another reason for the climate denial, a great German philosopher Jürgen Habermas wrote in the early 1960s about the structural transformation of the public sphere and how the Enlightenment (began here in Switzerland and in Germany with Gutenberg’s printing press and Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and all of the movements surrounding the Reformation) really came out of this new communications technology and information ecosystem that was developed at that time, where logic and reason and the best available evidence came to occupy a really important place in collective decision-making.

On Truth and Power

And sometimes the climate deniers, and sometimes other parts of the political dialogue in my country seem to be bringing those prophecies into being.

Internet Revolution & Collective Decision-making

We are on the verge of a potentially very positive restoration of the role of reason.

Each individual can be the change, be the leader.

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About the Author: Caitlin E. Krause works in interdisciplinary arenas linking technology, learning, leadership, writing and immersive storytelling. Caitlin founded the company MindWise® in 2016; her upcoming book Mindful by Design (Corwin Press, 2018) addresses mindfulness, neuroscience, creativity and innovative learning. Caitlin is a co-founder of The Center of Wise Leadership in Switzerland. She and fellow CoWLs core members are currently conducting a series of interviews with global leaders about their approaches to positive change and social impact.

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