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What meeting Al Gore taught me

By 17 November 2023 No Comments

What meeting Al Gore taught me

The Dutch are famous for their dikes. Hundreds of years ago a decision was made to keep the sea out. It was a remarkable decision because, in a way, it would have been easier to move to a better, less dangerous place. But the Dutch stayed and did it anyway. WHY? Because they knew they could! Men are capable of so many things, history has shown that time and again. Climate change can be dealt with, that’s what Al Gore has taught me.

In 2011 I went to San Francisco to meet Al Gore for a 4-day climate Leadership Summit.

Meeting Al Gore

A 1000 people were invited to learn about climate change to become Climate Leader with Al Gore’s leadership group. I was one of them. In those 4 days I met engaged people from all over the world. People from rural areas in Africa to doctors from New York City. We met Al Gore up close and personal, and spend 4 days learning, discussing and exchanging ideas about how to resolve climate change.

Seasonal change

One of the things that struck me during Al Gore’s explanation of what climate change is, was the fact that we will not just experience a heating up of the earth.

One of the most significant changes that will occur is that the seasons will dramatically change. Rainfall, for example, will intensify to a sometimes destructive level. And these periods of rain will be short and intense. Periods of droughts will elongate. It will be difficult to manage crops. Areas normally blessed with a steady stream of rain like for example, The Netherlands, will experience more and more drought.

Al Gore showed us very specifically what the science predicts. Because all of these changes are logical and when you apply basic statistics it is relatively easy to understand how one leads to the other.

A farmers experience

As a mental coach I speak to a lot of people and in 2019 a farmer contacted me. He had a severe burnout and needed some guidance in his recovery. When I asked about how his burnout came about, he told me that he never ever experienced the severity of the drought he experienced in that year. Never before water was rationed in The Netherlands and this year it was. He hardly slept, because to save his crop he had to get up every couple of hours with his wife to water the fields. This went on for months till he was so exhausted he could not anymore.

A fluke in the weather?

The year after a similar weather pattern emerges in the Netherlands. One thing the Dutch could have never anticipated, a SHORTAGE OF WATER, is now a reality.

Fast forward to 2023, in Spain a flash flooding startles the nation, the same happens in Italy and in India extreme landslides happen because of flash rains. In June the highest worldwide temperatures on record were measured. And the wintertime temperatures in the Antarctic are 9 degrees Celsius above 0!

Now are these events a fluke in the weather? Or are we witnessing a systemic climate diaster? In 2011 Al Gore made some predictions about the worldwide systemic weather changes. From increased fires in California, Australia and other places to intense flooding in many parts of the world and the melting of ice, and much more. All of Al Gores ‘predictions’ have come true, some times exactly to the geographic location.

A closed atmosphere

The impact of all these changes will grow stronger and will intensify. Why? We live in a closed atmosphere, a very thin layer of air that surrounds our planet. Most people do not realize that CO2 has a halftime of 50 to 300 years (opinions differ). This means that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere takes 50 to 300 years to brake down if it’s not absorbed by trees. When we add more CO2 than trees can absorb the CO2 stays in the atmosphere, trapping heat, trapping humidity and so on.

Heat stress

Another thing I learned from Gore is that plants have limit to the level of heat they can experience. Once that threshold is crossed the plants die. Other living creatures also have a heat threshold. Italy will reach 48 degrees C and it’s only the beginning of July. The systemic nature of all the changes will ignite processes in, for example, the oceans that will speed up this proces. All increasing the odds of real catastrophe.

Because we can

This is not a time for fear or complacency, this is a time of determined action! The Dutch were threatened by seawater. The easiest thing they could have done is pack up and leave. But they didn’t, the Dutch did something extraordinary, they build dykes so that a land 7 meters under water level could flourish. And it did flourish! Why did they do that? BECAUSE THEY COULD! They had the will to make it happen! They dreamed of a land that could flourish and pulled off an incredible feat. We need to do that again, we need to pull off an incredible feat. We have to change the way we use fossil fuels, we have to build a future for all living things. Why? On the one hand because we are on a trajectory of disaster if we don’t and on the other hand, BECAUSE WE CAN.

The first worldwide crisis YOU can do something about

Please have a look at the animation I made some years ago about how much influence an individual has even when you might feel powerless: The first worldwide crisis YOU can do something about.

Wassili Zafiris