Former US Vice President, Al Gore, spoke to over 800 people at Exam Schools last Thursday in an event hosted by the Oxford Martin School. The heavily oversubscribed event filled both the North and South Schools, the latter of which served as an overflow room where a large screen was put up to show the talk and Q&A session.
Former Vice-President Gore’s talk, entitled ‘The future: six drivers of global change’, focused on topics including corporate influence on American politics. Gore suggested a solution to this problem, saying, “It can change…The internet means people can engage even more in democracy. But it requires a decision by individuals to get engaged.”
As expected, he also discussed the issue of climate change, highlighting how some of the predictions in his 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth such as flooding in New York have come to pass much sooner than even he thought they would.
He compared the fight against deniers of climate change to the fight against racial discrimination and homophobia, stating that where choices were between right and wrong, right will win in the end.
The Oxford Martin School commented that Gore, “called upon younger generations to engage with politics to create a future worthy of them.” Professor Ian Goldin, Director of the school, stated: “Al Gore has done more than anyone else to raise awareness on climate change. He is a visionary…[and] should inspire all of us. ”
Gore’s speech was warmly received by many students. Second year Lincoln historian Richard Black commented, “It was a very engaging talk [that] brought to the fore the ways in which scientific and technological advances would really dominate our lives.”
Jonathan Hunter, also a 2nd year historian added: “Gore is a truly inspirational figure, outlining the problems which the world faces today- and more importantly, urging us to solve them!”
The Oxford Martin School consists of a group of 300 scholars and was founded in 2005. Its focus is on future challenges and only accepts scholars who it believes “will make a tangible difference to…today’s significant global challenges.”
Gore, 65, was Vice President of the United States from 1993-2001 under Bill Clinton. He famously lost the 2000 US Presidential election to George W Bush, a result only confirmed after losing a contentious Supreme Court case over a Florida recount. The Tennessee politician’s famous book and film, An Inconvenient Truth, won a Grammy Award and Academy Award respectively. He is also the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and a graduate of Harvard University.
Two unsuccessful US presidential candidates have now visited Oxford in two years, after John McCain spoke at the Oxford Union last Michaelmas.