Energy & Environment

Al Gore Launches Youth Voter Turnout Initiative In Houston

The former vice president talked about the impacts of climate change in Houston and urged students to vote.

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks as part of a voter registration rally at Texas Southern University.

Former Vice President Al Gore launched a new youth voter turnout initiative at Texas Southern University Wednesday, urging students to help combat climate change by heading to the polls.

“To anybody who believes that we as human beings do not have the capacity or the political will to rise to this challenge, just remember that every great morally-based movement in the history of humanity has faced times of despair and hopelessness,” he said, comparing the climate crisis to that of the Civil Rights Movement.

Students at a voter registration rally at Texas Southern University. Taken February 19, 2020

In the past, Gore said, social movements have succeeded when young people made it their cause.

“The moment that young people got seriously involved, that’s when the victory started to take shape,” he said, addressing students at the rally. “So you tell them that if anybody ever thinks that we as human beings don’t have the political will to move towards justice – political will is itself a renewable resource.”

Gore’s speech was the kickoff to his Vote Your Future: Vote Climate campaign, which will continue at college campuses across the U.S. this year.

Gore said he chose Houston as the launchpad for his new voter initiative because of his longstanding friendship with TSU Professor Dr. Robert Bullard, who is known as the father of environmental justice.  

“Environmental justice has to be at the center of how we understand the climate crisis unfolding,” Gore said. “To this day the number one determinant of where you can find a hazardous waste site is race.”

Gore also spoke about the impact that climate change is already having on Houston and Texas.

“From May 2015 to September 2019 — that’s four years and three months — Houston was hit by 10 major flood events and three once-in-1,000-year downpours,” he said. “A once-in-a-1,000-year downpour, I’m given to believe is not supposed to occur every single year.”

TSU Professor Dr. Robert Bullard, who is known as the father of environmental justice., introduced Gore at the youth voter registration event.

Gore also emphasized the need to transition away from fossil fuels, citing Texas’ role in producing wind and solar power.

Student and local voter registration groups were at the rally to sign students up to vote.

A voter registration rally at Texas Southern University. Taken February 19, 2020

Dorian Franks, a junior and Environmental Health major at TSU, said she registered to vote in Texas at the event. Franks said climate change and racial issues are driving her to the polls.

“[Al Gore] was very powerful in trying to get us to implement change in our society, and talk about the future and show light on the problem that’s going to become more advanced if we don’t take charge,” she said. “I was very empowered by today.”

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