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article imageFormer Vice President Al Gore outlines 'The Future' Special

By Kay Mathews     Feb 19, 2013 in Science
Savannah - At the Savannah Book Festival, Al Gore, former vice president of the United States, spoke of scientific developments that took us to the present and challenged attendees to consider the six most important drivers of global change that impact our future.
The 2013 Savannah Book Festival featured more than 40 prominent authors who presented their recent books at, or near, Telfair Square in Savannah's Historic District. Former Vice President Al Gore, Navy psychologist Heidi Kraft, and CNN anchor Jake Tapper were among the prominent speakers at the Trinity United Methodist Church venue on Saturday, February 16.
While walking around Telfair Square on Friday, Feb. 15, I saw the sign below, which informed me that Trinity Church is "The Mother Church of Savannah Methodism." According to Trinity United Methodist Church, "As the first and oldest Methodist church in the city, Trinity holds a unique place in the development of both American and World Methodism....The cornerstone of Trinity Church was laid February 14, 1848."
Trinity United Methodist Church.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
Trinity United Methodist Church. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
A front door of Trinity United Methodist Church was open on Friday and I peered inside. It is a spectacularly beautiful church, as can be seen in the photograph below. The equipment in the church belonged to C-SPAN2/Book TV, which covered authors featured in the Trinity Church venue.
Trinity United Methodist Church.  Savannah  Ga.  2/15/13
Trinity United Methodist Church. Savannah, Ga. 2/15/13
The church's pews were not empty on Saturday, Feb. 16; rather, pews in the sanctuary, including the balcony, were filled to capacity by those wishing to hear Al Gore's discussion of his book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Gore began his outline of "The Future" by noting that "We are used to linear change," but "emergent change" and the "notion of complexity science" should be considered when thinking about the future. Emergent change and complexity theory are rooted in the work by Ilya Prigogine, "who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of a major corollary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics," states Gore in the Introduction of his 558-page book (Gore 2013, xvi - xviii).*
In his book, Gore writes, "Prigogine's discovery was that an open system - that is, a system that imports flows of energy from outside the system into it, though it, and out again - not only breaks down, but as the flow of energy continues, the system then reorganizes itself at a higher level of complexity. In a sense, the phenomenon described by Prigogine is the opposite of entropy. Self-organization, as a law of nature and as a process of change, is truly astonishing. What it means is that complex new forms can emerge spontaneously through self-organization" (2013, xvii).*
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga. (2/16/13)
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. (2/16/13)
Gore gave examples concerning the World Wide Web and information patterns. "Think about what's happened over the last 20 years," said Gore. "When President Clinton and I went into the White House there were 50 sites on the World Wide Web, now there are trillions. Look at newspapers and patterns."
Gore describes the process in this way:
Elements of the old information pattern began to break down. Many newspapers went bankrupt, readership sharply declined in most others, bookstores consolidated and closed. Many business models became obsolete. But the new emergent pattern led to self-organization of thousands of new business models, and volumes of online communication dwarfing those that characterized the world of the printing press (Gore 2013, xvii).*
"The six drivers of global change are emergent, building-up over time," said Gore. He then presented an overview of six chapters in his book: Earth, Inc., The Global Mind, Power in the Balance, Outgrowth, The Reinvention of Life and Death, and The Edge.
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Quotes from Mr. Gore's presentation include:
We now have outsourcing in a completely different way - robosourcing, new level of automation.
New technologies include those that extend physical and cognitive abilities.
Algorithm [example] - Simple first year lawyer working with algorithm doing research that used to require 500 lawyers.
Acknowledge that middle class is being hollowed-out.
We've got good people trapped in what is now a bad system. Largely due to the role of money.
Members of Congress spend five to six hours a day begging for money from special interests and rich people.
Since 2008, ninety-three percent of extra national income has gone to one percent. We are now more unequal than either Egypt or Tunisia. Gap is growing. We can change that, but we have to have a clear understanding of what we are.
Ford doubled employee wage so they can buy cars.
Pollution in atmosphere as if it's a sewer.
Half of the north polar ice shelf melted last summer.
Are we destined to destroy our own future? I refuse to believe it. I refuse to accept it.
I'm an optimist. And I'm more optimistic after researching and writing this book. But my optimism is based on the assumption that we as human beings have the capacity to rise to big challenges and now is such a time.
Gore's presentation can be seen in its entirety via C-SPAN here. As C-SPAN notes, "Among the subjects addressed were the role of science and technology, changing methods of communication, globalization in politics and business, and environmental stewardship."
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
At the conclusion of his discussion, Mr. Gore received a standing ovation from the crowd and then he went into the audience to shake hands.
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Many members of the Savannah Book Festival's Board of Directors were in the audience, including Executive Director Robin Gold who is pictured below with Mr. Gore.
Al Gore with Robin Gold  executive director of the Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore with Robin Gold, executive director of the Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
A book signing was scheduled after Mr. Gore's discussion of The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Hundreds lined-up on York Street at the side of Trinity Church, and soon made their way into the room where Mr. Gore was signing books.
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival.  Savannah  Ga.  2/16/13
Al Gore at 2013 Savannah Book Festival. Savannah, Ga. 2/16/13
At the conclusion of his book, Gore writes, "Human civilization has reached a fork in the road we have long traveled. One of two paths must be chosen. Both lead us into the unknown. But one leads toward the destruction of the climate balance on which we depend, the depletion of irreplaceable resources that sustain us, the degradation of uniquely human values, and the possibility that civilization as we know it would come to an end. The other leads to the future" (2013, 374).*
*Source: Gore, Al. 2013. The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. New York: Random House.
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