Former Vice President Al Gore talks to TODAY's Matt Lauer about the state of politics today, as well as his new book, "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change."
Hurricane Sandy and other recent weather-related disasters, like this week’s intense flooding and monstrous sea foam levels in Australia, are a direct result of climate change, former vice president Al Gore said Tuesday.
“These storms – it’s like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation on the news every day now,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “People are connecting the dots.”
Gore also spoke publicly for the first time about his separation from his wife, Tipper. The couple announced their surprise split in 2010 but have not filed for divorce.
“We made a mutual agreement after 40 years of marriage. We’re doing great by the way,” he said, describing their current relationship as "warm."
“We had the children and grandchildren for Christmas, and we have regular family gatherings. Life is good,” he said.
"We have a good relationship and our family is strong and that’s what matters.”
Since his term as VP ended, Gore has elevated climate change to an international stage. He placed a lot of the blame for the public’s confusion and “falsehoods” surrounding global warming on corporations and the way they have influenced politics.
The former vice president talks about the challenges of tackling climate change amid the "antagonism" in the political world today.
“Large carbon polluters have business plans that depend upon them being able to use the Earth’s atmosphere as an open sewer,” he said. “It’s the same thing that tobacco companies did years ago in trying to convince people that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was not believable.”
Although Gore has been critical of President Obama’s action to date on global warming, he said he was pleased the president tackled the issue in his second inaugural address last week.
"Making the kind of commitment he did is comparable. He’s put his presidency behind this issue now,” he said.
“In his first term, even though, yes, he fell short, he ended up doing more than any other previous president.”
Gore, who is pushing his environmental agenda in his newest book, “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change,” acknowledged “there are some things I miss about” politics. But he said his current platform allows him to continue to speak out about current political issues.
“One of the themes of this books, Matt, is that our democracy has been hacked,” he said. “That’s a computer term, of course, that implies control of the way our political system works has been taken over, in this case, by big money, corporations designated as persons, anonymous donors. Big money is having a corrupting influence and it’s degrading the quality of our democracy.”
Yet, Gore defended selling his cable television channel, Current TV, to the foreign company Al Jazeera. The government of Qatar, which gets most of its money from oil and natural gas reserves, contributes much of the funding for Al Jazeera.
Gore said he understands concern over the perceived conflict of philosophy and critics who called the sale hypocritical.
“I certainly understand that criticism. I disagree with it, because I think Al Jazeera has obviously long established itself as a really distinguished and effective news gathering organization,” he said. “And by the way, its climate coverage has been far more extensive and of high quality than any of the networks there.”
Actress Melissa McCarthy gets a little star-struck when she meets Vice President Al Gore on the TODAY set, but the two turn out to be big fans of each other.
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