Today is Earth Day.
And here in low-lying, hurricane prone Florida, the day has special meaning.
Sea-level rise is no longer something so incremental that we don't notice.
It's real and visible, and planning for a future of rising oceans has become a top priority for local towns, cities and counties across the state.
For some perspective, WLRN turned to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has become one of world's foremost thinkers on the consequences of global warming and climate change.
In his new book, "The Future: Six Drivers Of Global Change," Gore goes beyond just the climate crisis of "Inconvenient Truth" and identifies six broad trends shaping the road ahead for humankind: economic globalization, digital communications, the shifting balance of power among nation-states, sustainable development, the revolution in life sciences and the changing relationship between human beings and Earth's ecosystems.
Below is some of the conversation:
WLRN: How does Florida fit into your version of the future?
Gore: South Florida is experiencing many of the trends that I describe in the future. On thing that stands out on the climate front of course is sea level rise which people in South Florida know a great deal about as well as stronger hurricanes coming in off the Atlantic. The other trends (in the book) affect everyone in the world.
WLRN: What is your best advice to Florida lawmakers and policymakers?
Gore: People in vulnerable areas (will feel it first), where storm surges will cause damage long before the overall sea level goes up that much. In New York, they are actively trying to give incentives for people to move away from vulnerable, low-lying areas... I think we should have a carbon tax. We should put a price on carbon so that the markets will work for us and not against us. We need to shift to renewable energy and I would like to see much more aggressive programs in encouraging solar energy and wind power.
WLRN: Do you see income inequality getting worse in South Florida?
Gore: Income inequality has been getting worse but not only in the U.S. but also in Europe, Japan, China, India. And one of the reasons is that technology is having a bigger impact on the loss of middle class income as jobs are being both outsourced to other countries and robo-sourced (jobs replaced by advanced automation.) You're always going to have inequality but when it comes to these hyper levels it becomes a problem for democracy and capitalism.
Listen to the full interview above by clicking play on the audio file.