Global Warming: A Sputnik Moment?

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The science is incontrovertible: if we don’t act now to curb global warming, we’re in serious trouble.

And U.S. public opinion is finally catching on, helped along, most recently, by Al Gore’s new movie An Inconvenient Truth (see our hour on Al Gore Unplugged). The buzz about the movie turns on whether or not Gore’s going to run in 2008, which begs this question: could a presidential candidate now actually build a viable political platform based on global warming? If enough politicians sense the tide turning, could we imagine a kind of Sputnik moment for climate change, where political and business forces align to meet the challenge?

So, the question of the day: If the majority of Americans now understand the gravity of global warming, how could we seize this moment to do what we do best, to innovate? How could we take the lead in what may be the next “new economy” of alternative fuels? Could this be America’s chance to keep its grip on economic power and prevent China or India from closing in? What will it take to jump-start a Manhattan Project or Sputnik rocket for global warming?

Kevin Sweeney

Lecturer in socially responsible business, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

Former environmental strategies director, Patagonia

Former special assistant to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt

Former press secretary for Senator Gary Hart

Former chairman, Ozone Action

Author, “Climate of Hope“, Salon

Bracken Hendricks

Senior fellow, Center for American Progress

Former executive director, Apollo Alliance

Author, “A New Prairie Populism“, The American Prospect

Brian Schweitzer

Governor of Montana

Robert Metcalfe

General Partner, venture capital firm Polaris Venture Partners

Co-inventor of Ethernet

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