Former Vice President Al Gore said democratic capitalism is in need of “serious reform” in the United States.
“Democracy has been hacked. Capitalism is in need of reform – serious reform. The short-termism that has been bemoaned by some of the leaders of the bigger firms in global markets is really hampering the success of capitalism in building value and reaching its goals,” Gore said during a discussion at the Washington Ideas Forum.
“The repeat and increasingly frequent crises now radiate globally and much more frequently because of the emergence of the earth and really an interconnected global economy. The ignoring of central factors like failure to measure the negative externalities – like pollution and the depletion of natural resources. Positive externalities like investment in public goods, inequality of wealth and incomes,” he added.
Gore, chairman of The Climate Reality Project, cited recent financial reports that showed “GDP has gone up 3.5 percent” but also revealed median income has gone down by the same amount.
“Pollution has gone way up. Depletion of resources has gone way up and inequality has gotten out of control and there is a dearth of investment in public goods like education and healthcare and environmental protection. And this is true everywhere the dominant version of democratic capitalism is being pursued – that needs to be changed and in the capitalism part of that, it’s really important to adopt the kinds of reforms that more and more people are seeing are greatly needed,” he said.
Gore, a member of Apple’s board of directors, said America is behind on addressing climate change.
“We’re really behind on the scoreboard. The time is running down but the momentum has shifted and everybody can feel it and there’s just enough time on the clock to score enough points to actually win. I think we are winning,” he said.
Gore, who won an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, pointed to Pope Francis’ U.S. visit and President Obama’s success in implementing carbon emission reductions as evidence that the world is moving in the right direction on climate change. Despite this, Gore called for further action.
“The cumulative amount of manmade global warming pollution is now trapping as much extra heat energy in the atmosphere as would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima class atomic bombs exploding every day. That’s a conservative estimate, believe me, if the deniers or denialists were able to pick apart that statistic they would have, it’s a conservative estimate. Most of it goes into the ocean,” he said.
Gore told the audience he recently saw fish swimming in the streets of Broward County, Fla.
“They are spending $400 million to raise the sea wall, to put in pumps and these are temporary measures so we have to take action,” he said.
To tackle climate change, Gore encouraged the audience to change to more energy efficient light bulbs and windows.
“But it’s more important to change laws,” he said. “We really have to address the democracy crisis.”
According to Gore, the business community is leading the political community on climate change.
“We really need to restore the vitality of democracy,” he said.
Asked if he is considering running for president, Gore said, “I am a recovering politician and the longer I go without a relapse the less likely one becomes.”
James Fallows of The Atlantic referred to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and the race for the Republican presidential nomination “a spectacle.” He asked Gore for his opinion of the Republican contest.
“It’s astonishing to me,” Gore said. “I think there’s a big wheel turning slowly and we are now in a phase where our politics have really been degraded and our democracy has been hacked.”