Al Gore has toughened his climate change rhetoric saying that there is a need to "punish climate-change deniers" and that politicians should pay a price for rejecting "accepted science."
The former Vice President and founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project spoke at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas for the third time in the last three years. The festival is a massive film, interactive and music festival that brings together designers, developers, investors, entrepreneurs, and politicians for panels and discussions about technology and innovation.
Gore said forward-thinking investors are beginning to abandon companies invested in fossil fuels and are focusing more towards companies investing in renewable energy. "We need to put a price on carbon to accelerate these market trends," said Gore, referring to a proposed bill that would penalize companies that exceeded their carbon-emissions. "And in order to do that, we need to put a price on denial in politics."
He called on the tech-minded crowd attending the SXSW to launch grassroots movements to tackle climate change and call out climate deniers. "We have this denial industry cranked up constantly," Gore said. "In addition to 99 percent of the scientists and all the professional scientific organizations, now Mother Nature is weighing in."
Gore said that years from now the next generation will look and ask: "How did you change?"
"Part of the answer may well be that a group of people came to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas in 2015 and helped to make a revolution."
Gore's goal is for these young, tech-savvy attendees to approach the climate change battle much like they did net neutrality or the Stop Online Piracy Act. That means the signing of petitions, leveraging the power of social media to call out climate deniers and streaming and drawing attention to the Earth Road to Paris concert in June, an event designed to draw attention to the climate talks in Paris this December.
The former Vice President also gave a nod to Pope Francis saying "How about this Pope?" Pope Francis celebrated his two-year anniversary as Pope and is currently experiencing a wave of popularity "that has reinvigorated the Catholic Church in ways not seen since the days of St. John Paul II." Gore said he is looking forward to the Pope's highly anticipated encyclical on the environment saying, "I'm not a Catholic, but I could be persuaded to become one."