Former Vice President Al Gore said Sunday that even if President Joe Biden hesitated on declaring a national emergency to address climate change, Mother Nature had already done so and the planet was feeling the effects of a warming world with dire consequences.
Gore made the comments on ABC’s “This Week,” telling host Jonathan Karl shattered heat records, Antarctic ice melt and the ongoing devastation of drought, flooding and wildfires were hitting the world “hard” and with immediate effect.
“We’re seeing this global emergency play out and it’s getting worse more quickly than was predicted,” Gore said Sunday. “This should be a moment for a global epiphany and the voters and the publics in countries around the world need to put a lot more pressure on their political leaders.”
“Don’t forget,” he continued, “the fact that all 50 of the Republican senators have been against doing anything on climate, even though the vast majority of the American people want it.”
Gore went on to say the planet had been using “our atmosphere as an open sewer,” spewing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon emissions into the environment every day. Karl pointed to the recent surge in gas prices, saying Biden had been challenged in his effort to address climate change. But Gore pressed back, saying people had confused the short-term benefits of fossil fuels at the expense of long-term harms.
“That’s why the heat records are being broken all the time,” Gore said. “That’s why the storms are stronger, why the ice is melting and the sea levels are rising, and why the droughts and fires are hitting us so hard and so many other consequences. And they’re predicting now up to a billion climate refugees crossing international borders in this century. We have got to act.”
Biden stopped short of declaring a formal national emergency to address climate change last week after Democrats were stymied by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in their hopes to pass meaningful climate legislation. The president said climate change was, indeed, an emergency, but unveiled a package of modest executive actions instead.
“Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world,” Biden said last week. “This is an emergency, an emergency, and I will look at it that way.”
Many progressive Democrats and environmentalists, however, have called on the White House to take more decisive action. Declaring a formal emergency could allow Biden to reinstate a ban on crude oil exports, which could substantially limit greenhouse gas emissions, or halt new oil and gas drilling in federal waters, both significant moves climate activists have called for for years.