Al Gore headlines major sustainability conference at the University of Hawaii

>> Al Gore, former U.S. vice president: Our way of life is at stake. Our grandchildren are at stake. The future of human civilization is at stake. >> Narrator Alexandra Roth, UH student: Former Vice President Al Gore, speaking about the dangers of climate change before a crowd of nearly seven-thousand people at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Stan Sheriff Center. >> Gore: If we act together, there is absolutely no question that we will solve this. >> Narrator: Gore’s speech on the evening of April 15, 2014 was the capstone event of Ascent, a one day conference on clean energy and a sustainable future hosted by the UH Sea Grant College Program, UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. >> Gore: We’ve got to rally on this and we’ve got to understand what’s at risk. >> Clarice Schafer, UH Manoa student: It was really exciting to see energy and passion, to support the knowledge and facts that he had to bring to us.

>> Levi Viloria, UH Manoa student: It was really interesting to see that we had that sort of connection with getting someone as famous as president, vice president Al Gore, to come down here and talk about it. >> Narrator: The Ascent conference started in the morning with an opening speech by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California at UH Manoa’s Orvis Auditorium. >> U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, California: Clean energy is good for our lungs, energy efficiency is good for our pocket book, both create good paying jobs that can’t be outsourced and as we move forward, we will make sure consumers are protected. That is the right thing to do and that is the moral thing to do. Hawaii gets it. >> Narrator: Boxer’s speech was followed by a roundtable discussion on water and energy sustainability with respected community and business leaders from Hawaii and the continental United States. The discussion continued in the afternoon during break out sessions at the East-West Center on the Manoa campus with experts from the public and private sectors who are on the front lines of sustainability efforts.

>> Daniele Spirandelli, UH Manoa Urban Regional Planning professor: What they bring up is just how difficult decisions are that they have to make on a day-to-day basis dealing with costs when it comes to. >> Narrator: The University of Hawaii Ascent conference addressed key underlying issues of sustainability and demonstrated the role UH plays. >> Boxer: This university has been fantastic and hosting this conference is a very big, big move because it captures people’s interest." >> Gordon Grau, UH Sea Grant College Program director: We can attract the quality of people like Senator Boxer and Vice President Gore, who are the major thinkers in these areas, not only in the nation but across the world.

So it is very, very important and it shows the importance of the university, not just locally, but nationally and internationally. >> Narrator: All of the speakers waived their fees, including Gore, who ended the conference by imploring the audience to think about future generations. >> Gore: I want them to look back at us, at our time, and ask, how did you find the moral courage to stand up and do the right thing, and turn the tide? And part of the answer is that the State of Hawaii provided leadership and the United States finally listened. Always remember, that the only thing we need is political will and political will is a renewable resource! Thank you very much..