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Climate Emergency

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore stumps for the environment

4 min read

Two and a half years ago, in the company of a professor of atmospheric sciences, I went to see the former U.S. senator and vice president deliver the lecture that is the basis of his film, An Inconvenient Truth . It was classic Al Gore. He did the best job of presenting and illustrating the basics of global warming that we had ever seen. But he delivered the talk on what was more or less the coldest day of that winter in New York City, making him the butt of jokes by late-night television chat-show hosts.

The filmed version of the talk, which Gore has now delivered—by his reckoning—close to 1000 times, opened in the United States on 25May, and it has something of the same odd combination of Gore’s professorial brilliance and political clumsiness, only more so. The talk itself and the illustrations are even better—so good, indeed, that they should not be missed, whether you look at them in the film or in the companion book now on sale: An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It .

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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