INCLINE VILLAGE — Former Vice President Al Gore warned of the dangers of global warming Monday during the Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit.
Sixteen years after organizing the first summit with President Bill Clinton and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Gore urged the Tahoe Basin communities to not only restore the lake’s environment, but to serve as an example to the world in the battle against global warming.
“I believe that Lake Tahoe can be a symbol,” Gore told a crowd of about 700. “If the communities around this lake can find a way to become sustainable — not just in name only, not just with the label, not just with a few efforts, but truly and genuinely sustainable, then the Lake Tahoe communities could play a more important role in inspiring the world than any national park could.”
Tahoe could become home to a global summit each year to present sustainable technologies and innovations to reduce global-warming pollution, he said.
Gore said that could “make this place not only awe-inspiring for its beauty but awe inspiring for the demonstrable commitment of the men and women and children and families and businesses and organizations that live here.”
That kind of commitment could help the world find out how to effectively combat global warming, he said.
It would be appropriate for that to take place at Lake Tahoe, where efforts appear to have slowed the lake’s historic decline in clarity, Gore said.
“This started without partisanship,” he said. “This started without ideology. It continues without regard to partisanship, or politics or ideology. You got that going for you. Our country needs a bit of that, really.”
Senate Majority Leader Reid, who said organizing that first Tahoe Summit was the most significant thing he has done, introduced Gore. Reid said it was Gore who turned what could have just been “a photo opportunity” into a conference that has changed Tahoe.
California Gov. Jerry Brown said the collaboration between then-Republican governors Paul Laxalt of Nevada and Ronald Reagan of California in the 1960s created the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. That collaboration continues without regard to party between Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and him, he said.
Sandoval also stressed the need for collaboration, pointing out that he and Brown are working together to ensure the lake’s future is bright. Before Monday’s summit, the governors signed a proclamation pledging cooperation between the two states on forest health.
Brown said the lake is improving, but that there is work to do.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said a new bill to pump $415 million in federal funding into the basin is making its way through Congress. Its chances are good in the Senate, but “we will need help in the House,” she said.
“The House is not known for doing constructive projects right now,” she said.