Climate change and the environment were not major topics of the presidential campaign. And on Wednesday, President Obama said that while he believes more needs to be done to address what's happening, he won't "ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change."
But former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work raising awareness on climate issues, tells NPR that he's convinced "more and more people in both political parties are taking a hard look at it and saying 'yes we really do need to do something about this.' "
After weather disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, a devastating drought across much of the U.S. this past year and other recent catastrophes, Gore said, more and more Americans are concluding that the issue can't be left for their children and grandchildren to solve. "People are getting the idea that we owe it to ourselves," Gore told Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz. "It's affecting us right here and now."
Former Vice President Al Gore.
Former Vice President Al Gore. Jon Kalish/NPR
Polling, such as that done by Gallup, shows that while concern about global warming is down from the peak (72 percent) hit in 2000, the number of Americans who express that worry has been on the rise in the past year.
Obama's challenge, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee said, will be changing the minds of lawmakers who remain skeptical about whether the climate is changing and whether humans are a factor. "It's fair to say that the real solution to the climate crisis will require a legislative act by the Congress," he said. "So the president does have the challenge of persuading them to act."
But, Gore said, "it's not the first time that we've faced political difficulties in trying to resolve a really important challenge. ... That's one of the reasons we have a president in our Constitution — to lead the country."
This evening, at 7 p.m. ET, Gore wraps up 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. It's part of the Climate Reality Project, which attempts to "mobilize social consensus around climate change." You can watch the show here. It's been a series of reports from all 24 time zones around the world.
And what is "dirty weather?"
"Dirty energy creates dirty weather," Gore said. It's a reason why "storms are stronger," floods are more destructive and weather catastrophes seem to be happening more often. "That's dirty weather."
Much more from the conversation is due on Saturday's edition of Weekend All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts the show.