Friday, February 26, 2016

But why, some ask, go to the moon?

With the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence on his side, Al Gore has no trouble making the case that climate changes poses a serious threat, globally ... but making the case for an optimistic approach to solving that problem ... that's a little harder to do.

But in his two-minute conclusion to his Presentation at the Ted2016 Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia (a couple of weeks ago), Al Gore knocked it out of the park.

Those two minutes (which begin at the 19min mark), are well worth watching ... even if you disagree with him, you'll understand why the man is persuasive.

He concluded his presentation by saying:

I'll finish with this story. When I was 13 years old, I heard that proposal by President Kennedy to land a person on the Moon and bring him back safely in 10 years. And I heard adults of that day and time say, "That's reckless, expensive, may well fail." But eight years and two months later, in the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, there was great cheer that went up in NASA's mission control in Houston. Here's a little-known fact about that: the average age of the systems engineers, the controllers in the room that day, was 26, which means, among other things, their age, when they heard that challenge, was 18.

We now have a moral challenge that is in the tradition of others that we have faced. One of the greatest poets of the last century in the US, Wallace Stevens, wrote a line that has stayed with me: "After the final 'no,' there comes a 'yes,' and on that 'yes', the future world depends." When the abolitionists started their movement, they met with no after no after no. And then came a yes. The Women's Suffrage and Women's Rights Movement met endless no's, until finally, there was a yes. The Civil Rights Movement, the movement against apartheid, and more recently, the movement for gay and lesbian rights here in the United States and elsewhere. After the final "no" comes a "yes."

When any great moral challenge is ultimately resolved into a binary choice between what is right and what is wrong, the outcome is fore-ordained because of who we are as human beings. Ninety-nine percent of us, that is where we are now and it is why we're going to win this. We have everything we need. Some still doubt that we have the will to act, but I say the will to act is, itself, a renewable resource.

In answering the rhetorical question he posed in 1962, President John Kennedy said:  "We choose to go to the moon in this decade, not because it will be easy, but because it will be hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."


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