Al Gore looks at dizzying pace of change in today's world

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore talks to CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition about his latest book, which takes on the weightiest of subjects — nothing less than the future of our civilization.

'The scientific and technological revolution... has accelerated'

Al Gore told Michael Enright, host of CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition, the world would benefit from the U.S. re-establishing itself as a policy leader. (Associated Press)

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore's latest book takes on the weightiest of subjects — nothing less than the future of our civilization. He talked about his work with the host of CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition, Michael Enright.

Gore started the outline of his book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, about eight years ago, when someone asked him to provide a list of the top revolutionary changes in the world today.

"It became somewhat of an obsession," said Gore, who was the 45th vice-president of the U.S. for eight years and might have been elected its 43rd president if not for that famous U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively resolving the highly disputed 2000 election.

Gore took 15,000 pages of research and whittled it down to six driving forces of change.

"It was by far the hardest book I've written, but I found the process exciting, truly."

"The scientific and technological revolution has not only matured, it has accelerated," Gore told Enright. "These drivers have come to interact with one another."

Among them is economic globalization, featuring outsourcing and robosourcing, as well as the speed at which money travels.

Gore says the global economy has emerged as a unified entity. Sovereign wealth funds, he says, are connected to a desire of nations to defend themselves in this "Earth Inc." against the unpredictable flows of capital throughout the global economy.

He says the flow of capital is occurring "faster than micro seconds, and it will soon be in nano seconds."

"The going market rate, that I calculated anyway in very rough terms, is that if you can shave one millisecond off the flows of capital, that's worth in market terms about $100 million US in investments."

"Earth Inc. now receives 85 per cent of its energy from carbon-based fuels," Gore says, adding it's not all bad news.

"The reductions in cost of electricity from solar and wind are coming much faster and much more dramatically than anyone predicted. Second,  we are seeing the slow motion stabilization of global population."

Gore says the best hope for avoiding "catastrophe" is the re-establishment of global leadership of the U.S. He told CBC he knows that statement opens him to criticism.

"And yet, I ran that risk because I think the evidence supports the statement that I made."

He says he thinks there is still no feasible alternative to the United States as a policy leader for the world.