Speaking yesterday at Harvard University, former vice president Al Gore renewed his call for an end to dependence on oil and other carbon-based fuels, blaming it for global warming and the United States' problems in the Middle East.
"We have a very few short years to change the way we conduct global civilization," Gore said. "It is almost absurd to think that we as a human race could make any one decision as a species, but that is, in fact, the challenge before us."
His comments came during an outdoor program highlighting the university's previously announced plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2006 levels over the next eight years. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide contribute to global warming, which many believe is responsible for extreme changes in weather patterns.
During her introduction of Gore, Harvard's president, Drew Gilpin Faust, said the school must be a model in the fight to reduce pollution, both in the classroom and in everyday life.
"How we light our classrooms, how we heat our water, how we plan and build our laboratories all send a powerful signal," Faust said.
Executive vice president Ed Forst, who will oversee the university's new Office for Sustainability, said becoming more environmentally friendly has long been a Harvard goal.
"Today is really our call to action to say, fine, we've set an eight-year goal and we want to go ahead and galvanize our community to move forward," Forst said.
Earlier this year, a Harvard task force estimated it could cost as much as $26 million a year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the task force also said substantial portions of the expenses likely would be recouped through lower energy bills
, which now are almost $100 million a year.