Climate Change

Former VP Al Gore launches efforts to train climate activists across the gulf coasts

Three of 10 of the most vulnerable counties to climate-related disasters are in Texas.

Ed Castillo/Houston Public Media

The Climate Reality Project invited 400 participants to Houston to go through training with an emphasis on climate and environmental injustice. The organization was founded by former Vice President Al Gore and does education and advocacy related to climate change.

Gore stopped by Houston Matters with Craig Cohen on Thursday to discuss training for climate activists across the gulf coast.

Gore's organization is a non-profit which has previously had more than 50 trainings. In the past, they have focused on the causes of the climate crisis and solutions that are currently available. For the training in Houston, they plan to discuss how pollution levels are higher than what doctors recommend.

Gore said cancer can be 50 times more likely than the national average in fenceline – communities that are adjacent to pollution-causing industries – or frontline communities with higher pollution levels. Many of these communities are populated by Black, Hispanic, or sometimes Native American populations. Ten counties most vulnerable to climate-related disasters show 81 percent of their population is Black. Three of those counties are in Texas.

"At some point what these people say about designating a sacrifice zone begins to bug me a bit," Gore said. "How much should these people be asked to suffer the health and life and death consequences for so many families, unfortunately, of the extra pollution?"

Last year, 21 percent of all electricity came from wind power, and some utilities in Texas are even offering free electricity at night because of the abundance of wind. Gore said a majority of Texans are in favor of moving toward renewable energy, and doing so will save money and provide jobs in the Gulf South region.

"Dollar for dollar, you get three times as many jobs for one dollar invested in clean energy as you do in the dying fossil fuel sector," said Gore. "But we're still putting 162 million tons of manmade global warming pollution into the sky every day using it as an open sewer."

While support for climate activism has increased over the years, there has also been an increase in downpours that Gore said should only be happening once in a thousand years. In the United States, there have been five of them. Studies from the National Climate Assessment show that while most of the increase affects flooding in Midwestern and Northeast areas, they are expected to affect the country as a whole.

"I am optimistic, but it's a race against time. The remaining question is whether we're going to be able to reduce the emissions fast enough," Gore said.

Today in Houston Newsletter Signup
We're in the process of transitioning services for our Today in Houston newsletter. If you'd like to sign up now, fill out the form below and we will add you as soon as we finish the transition. **Please note** If you are already signed up for the newsletter, you do not need to sign up again. Your subscription will be migrated over.