Former Vice President Al Gore said his conscience is regularly challenged by a consumerism that contributes to the global warming he has made it his mission to reverse.
"It is so hard for those of us who want to live according to our values,"Gore said Monday at the Chautauqua Institution, during the latest in a series of lectures he has given on global warming.
"We're embedded in a culture that makes it so easy to just go with the flow and support a pattern that's horribly destructive,"he said."And so we need to address this personally."
Gore first lectured on global warming at the western New York think tank in 1990. Since then, the consensus that the planet is in crisis has grown stronger, he said, and the ability to make the point is not cluttered by campaign issues like the economy and health care.
"This is by far the most serious challenge that we face or have ever faced,"he said during the 90-minute appearance."None of the other ones will matter if we don't get this right."
Later, Gore planned to sign copies of his book,"An Inconvenient Truth."The related documentary film was being shown on campus.
Dressed in a navy suit and tie and occasionally wandering from his podium, Gore showed the packed house dozens of slides to make his point that human behavior, if not changed, would destroy the planet.
He pointed to the melting of glaciers and mountain ice caps, bleaching of coral reefs, strengthening of hurricanes and record numbers of tornadoes.
"We're playing with fire here and we have to act quickly,"he said."The good news is we can."
Flyers distributed to attendees urged them to use fluorescent light bulbs, drive less, plant a tree, recycle and avoid products with a lot of packaging to reduce carbon dioxide. Besides the 5,500 people in the auditorium, at least 200 people waited outside during his address.
Gore said he and his wife, Tipper, who was in the audience, had adopted a"carbon neutral lifestyle."
"We've fallen into this pattern of consuming more and more and more and I'm part of it, I understand,"he said.
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