Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff about the perils of global warming, presenting dramatic images of melting glaciers, rising oceans and parched earth to help spread his environmental message.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who steps down on Dec. 31 after 10 years at the helm of the United Nations, said in his introductory remarks Thursday that Gore’s new role helps the planet — and retiring officials.
“What he has done recently has also shown that there is a life after public office,” Annan joked.
Gore’s film, derived from his slide-show presentation, has become one of the highest-grossing documentaries and made the former vice president an unexpected film star, while its companion book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has become a national best-seller.
Gore warned in the lecture — part of a series instituted by Annan — that the world faces a “full-scale climate emergency that threatens the future of civilization on earth.”
He showed slides of devastation brought by recent hurricanes, which scientists link to global warming, of the snows of Kilimanjaro of a few decades ago now receding to reveal bare mountain slopes, and footage of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska crumbling with a powerful whoosh.
Gore followed with computer-generated projections of ocean water rushing in to submerge the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, parts of China, India and other nations, should ice shelves in Antarctica or Greenland melt and slip into the sea, raising water levels by 6-7 meters.
“The planet itself will do nicely, thank you very much — what is at risk is human civilization,” Gore said.