Internet Revolution That Elected Obama Could Save Earth: Gore
Former US vice president Al Gore said an Internet revolution carrying Barack Obama to the White House should now focus its power on stopping Earth's climate crisis.
The one-time presidential contender turned environmental champion told Web 2.0 Summit goers in San Francisco Friday that technology has provided tools to save the planet while creating jobs and stimulating the crippled economy.
"The young people who have been inspired by Barack Obama's campaign and the movement that powered Barack Obama's campaign want a purpose," Gore said.
"One of the reasons we were all thrilled Tuesday night is it was pretty obvious this was a collectively intelligent decision."
The Internet's critical role in Democrat Obama's victory in the presidential race against Republican John McCain was a "great blow for victory" in addressing a "democracy crisis" stifling action against climate change, Gore said.
The Web has "revolutionized" nearly every aspect of running for US president and delivered an "electrifying redemption" of the founding national principle that all people are created equal, according to Gore.
"Some week," Gore said in greeting to an audience that leapt to its feet cheering. "It really was overwhelming. It couldn't have happened without the Internet."
Obama's victory, seen by many as a repudiation of policies of president George W. Bush, was validation of sorts for Gore, who lost to Bush in a controversial election outcome in 2000.
"Belated redemption is part of what we are celebrating this week," Gore said.
Since leaving politics Gore has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless efforts to combat climate change and starred in an Academy Award-winning global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
He also founded Current TV, a cable television operation that taps into user-generated videos and news coverage fed to its website.
The one-time newspaper reporter said his reasons for creating Current included a belief in the need to "democratize television media."
"One of the main reasons why our political system has not been operating well until this election is the unhealthy influence of the television medium as it has operated," Gore said.
"The Internet comes in and democratizes information again and it is so exciting. All the vibrant forms of information are living on the Internet but TVs are still dampening it."
Current TV teamed with Twitter and Digg on election night to weave feeds from the popular Internet websites into its coverage of the vote.
The Web has the potential to "revolutionize almost every aspect" of running for US president, according to Gore. He believes that social activism made possible by people connecting and sharing information online is in its infancy.
"What happened in the election opens a full new range of possibilities and now is the time to really move swiftly to exploit these new possibilities," Gore said of turning the power of the Internet to cooling global warming.
Gore said Obama should announce a national goal of getting all US electric power from renewable and non-carbon energy within the next decade and spend the billions necessary to build an "electrinet" smart power grid.
"Web 2.0 has to have a purpose" Gore said.
"The purpose I would urge is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our relationship to this planet and the imminent danger we face. We have everything we need to save it."