MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Former vice president and new Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore announced a new green business venture today. The idea is to promote new ways of curbing global warming. Gore is becoming a partner in a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm that funds those ideas - things such as renewable energy technology, carbon markets, sustainable agriculture.
I asked Al Gore whether it will take government action as opposed to private investment to make real progress on global warming. He says it takes both.
Mr. AL GORE (Former U.S. Vice President; Nobel Peace Prize Winner): We've now reached a stage where this shift is going to happen with or without new government policies. We happen to believe that new government policies will be forthcoming. And whether they are or not, the business sector is ahead of the policymaker of community in recognizing that this shift toward a low-carbon economy has to take place. And the investments are, in some sense, self-fulfilling prophecies, because businesses around the world are now assuming that this shift is going to occur.
BLOCK: Now that you've won the Nobel Peace Prize, what impact do you think that's had on your work?
Mr. GORE: I don't know. But I've seen some evidence that individuals who might have been more skeptical of the message in the past might be a tad more willing to listen to this message. And I think that's a real consequence and I hope it is, but I really don't know.
BLOCK: Hmm. What do you say to the critics who say that your work on climate change, on global warming, doesn't really fit under the rubric of world peace? And that the Nobel Peace Prize has become too politicized?
Mr. GORE: Well, those are two separate questions. I think the second question is answered by the worldwide respect that is given to the committee that makes the award. And that in itself is the reason for the prize promoting the reaction that it gets. But as for the nexus between the climate crisis and peace, the secretary general of the United Nations wrote a few months ago about the connection between the crisis in Darfur and the disappearance of Lake Chad, which in turn is linked to the climate crisis.
The rapid retreat of the north polar ice cap and the gearing up of navies and coast guards and the nationalistic impulses who exploit this new ocean that's now becoming ice-free is one of many, many other examples of how the climate crisis with its disruptive consequences has the potential for causing conflict. But it also has a potential for creating new areas of collaboration and cooperation. And my own work is aimed at trying to create those new opportunities.
BLOCK: Mr. Gore, you've said in the past that you've fallen out of love with politics. And I wonder if you could explain just what you mean by that.
Mr. GORE: It's never been a perfect world and I don't want to create false nostalgia for democracy in the past. But I do think that the world of 30-second television commercials has put more attention on Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears and O.J. Simpson and less attention on complex choices that our democracy has to confront. I don't bemoan that. I just recognize it. And I don't rule out the possibility at some point in the future of playing some role in the political process. I don't think that's likely. What politics has become is less attractive to me than in the past. But it still is the form in which the most important decisions are made and I recognize and respect that.
BLOCK: You said you wouldn't rule it out in the future. You don't think it's likely. If you think about the 2008 presidential election coming up, why not -if you're not interested in running - why not do what you did before the 2004 election and come right out and say, I'm not a candidate? I'm not in this race?
Mr. GORE: Well, I mean, I think people hear pretty clearly what I'm saying. And when they ask, why don't you make a Sherman statement? Well, you know, General Sherman said, if nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. There are some people who say, I was already elected and didn't serve. So I don't see any need to make a so-called Sherman statement. But I think people hear very clearly what I'm saying. It's most unlikely that I'll ever be a candidate again, much less in 2008.
BLOCK: Al Gore, thanks for talking with us today.
Mr. GORE: Thank you. I enjoyed it.
BLOCK: Former vice president Al Gore. He says he'll donate his salary as a partner in a venture capital firm to the advocacy group he founded, the Alliance for Climate Protection. That would not include his stock options.
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