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Gore Addresses Environmental Issues at Campaign Stop in Springdale

Aired August 12, 2000 - 11:51 a.m. ET



DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Daryn Kagan in Los Angeles, California, site of the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

We take you now to Springdale, Pennsylvania, Vice President Al Gore on his pre-convention tour today speaking near the home of environmentalist Rachel Carson, the women who wrote the book "Silent Spring" and inspired Al Gore as a young boy.

Let's listen to the vice president.


ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the Springdale Dynamos, thank you for a wonderful performance.

And you know, I'd like to say before I make my talk, I'd like to comment briefly on what Lauren (ph) said. I asked her, just after she finished, whether or not she had read that use of the thinning shell in the way she used it as a metaphor for the way the environment protects us.

And she said, no, she had read about the thinning shell in Rachel Carson's work. And it had occurred to her that it was a way to describe what happens to the environment around us and the reason why it is important to us and future generations to protect the environment.

I think it was a remarkable insight and way of using the lessons of Rachel Carson and, you know, if you keep on speaking like that, Lauren, I have no doubt you'll not only be on the board, you may soon be chair of the board and may go on to be the next Rachel Carson. I'm very impressed.


Now, you're 14? Fourteen years old, and those of you from the Rachel Carson Homestead and Institute and group here, know very well that the first article written by Rachel Carson was an article she wrote when she was Lauren's age, at 14. She wrote a beautifully crafted essay on looking for birds' nest for a magazine called St. Nicholas, and I had the chance to read it before I came out here, and I was -- I was very impressed.

GORE: You know, if you look at some of the women and men who are doing the most to protect our environment today, you'll find that a lot of them had formative experiences when they were teenagers.

The Nobel Prize winner who has been protecting the ozone layer, Sherry Rowland, was 14 years old or thereabouts when he first started looking at the weather patterns, and there are many other examples. So you kids here, who went through the demonstration with me earlier, bear in mind that what you are learning today -- and I say this to all the young people here -- what you are learning today can shape your life for the rest of your life.

We need you to provide the kind of leadership and insights that Lauren demonstrated and that Rachel Carson demonstrated in her life. So keep at it. Keep doing what your hearts are leading to toward.


It is really for all of our children and grandchildren and great- grandchildren that we fight to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, and it's for them that we also fight to honor the legacy of Rachel Carson.

For my entire life, long before I entered public service, I have been committed to safeguarding our air and our land and the earth itself. I remember as a young child walking with my dad over the farm that my mother still calls home -- I lost my dad a year and a half ago -- but in Tennessee the family farm is still there. Tipper and I own our own farm just across the river.

And when I was a boy, I learned to love that land. I loved it all the more, I guess, because a lot of the year I was in a big city, Washington, D.C., and when I got back home, to Carthage, Tennessee, I exulted in being able to walk across the farm and swim in the river and walk through the woods. And I was interested in reviewing Rachel Carson's life to note that this place and, of course, these trees mark the boundary between the part of her homestead or farmstead where she grew up and an area that has now been put to other constructive uses.

She had a 65-acre farmstead, and as a little girl, she used to love to walk in the woods and listen to the birds and watch for all the critters and learn about nature. When I was a young child, I had similar experiences. Many of you have, as well. And then, as she got older, she began to learn more. Thank goodness, she turned her lessons into great teaching for the rest of us.

And when I was 14 years old, Lauren, my mother read "Silent Spring," and it had such a big impact on her that she shared it with my sister and me. Oh, for weeks, maybe months, we had conversations at the breakfast table and the dinner table which would often turn to some of the -- some of what she learned from that book. And she recommended it to me, and I read it when I was your age. And the main lesson that I took away from it was that there are problems that we can cause for the environment that are not immediately obvious to the naked eye. I had learned from those walks on the farm with my dad that when you saw a gully starting, you needed to stop it up and prevent it from eroding the land. And I learned from him how to see things I didn't notice at first. When a gully just begins to start, if you don't train your eye a little bit, you won't see it. But I learned from his trained eye how to find the earmarks, and those who work to protect the environment have trained eyes.

But even the most highly trained eyes could not see the connection between chemicals like DDT and the thinning of those eggshells. Rachel Carson spelled out that connection and used it as a way to teach the whole world about some of the brand-new concerns that we had to take into our hearts if we were going to express the caring for future generations that all of us have. And it really was it -- it was a major lesson for me.

It really shaped my life and prepared me to see some of the things that came at me later in my education. For example, when I went to college, I was fortunate enough to have a professor named Roger Revell (ph), who was the first person who propose that we start measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and he shared with that little class the first measurements that were coming from the skies way above Hawaii.

And, similarly, you know, Rachel Carson went on to Pennsylvania College for Women, that's now Chatham College where there is an institute, and let's hear it for Chatham College because it performed a major service here.


... and that was really when I used what I had learned from Rachel Carson to pay attention to what that professor was saying. That was before the first Earth Day. And then when the first Earth Day came along, I had been prepared to get a little bit more out of that.

And then later on, when I went into Congress, I started trying to learn more still. And I believe back then -- and I think more and more people agree now that those who deny global warming are just flat-out wrong, it is a real threat that we must confront and provide leadership to challenge...


... and I'm excited about all the opportunities and the positive changes that can come about if we do the right thing.

GORE: You know, Mark Twain once wrote, "Do the right thing. You'll gratify your friends and astonish the rest."


When we do the right thing, to create the new jobs that can be created by building new cars and trucks and boilers and furnaces to cut down on the amount of pollution in the world, then we're not only going to reduce the number of greenhouse gases, we're also going to create a lot of good new jobs and corporate profits earned in the right way and help position the U.S. to lead the 21st century economy, the way we had the 20th century economy.


In order to do that, we've got to recognize that it's not an easy path. There are those who want to stop it from happening. In fact, again, if you look back at Rachel Carson's life, when she published "Silent Spring" she was the target of a very well-orchestrated, well- financed attack from special interests that were profiting from pollution.

And I was looking inside the homestead there, at some of the propaganda that was put out at the time. They had kids this age walking around in the most awful cloud of DDT dust that you ever saw, and the caption was, This is completely harmless. It is wonderful. You don't need to worry about a thing."

And then they had a picture of a woman eating a hot dog and sipping a soda pop right in the midst of this cloud of pesticide, and they say, you know, "completely harmless."

Well, that was propaganda, and it was an effort to undermine and tear down the lessons that Rachel Carson was putting out. We've seen some of the same things in the battle to try to do the right thing about global warming and other forms of pollution.

KAGAN: We've been listening to Vice President Al Gore as he speaks to Sprindale, Pennsylvania today, speaking near the homestead of Rachel Carson, the environmentalist who wrote the book "Silent Spring," a book which the vice president read as a young boy. It inspired his work in environmental efforts himself.

We will continue to follow the vice president throughout the day, throughout the weekend, as he makes his way here to Los Angeles and the Democratic National Convention.

We'll take a break now. "CNN SATURDAY" with Gene Randall is up next.



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