Former Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday that burning fossil fuels “should be understood as a precondition for higher death rates from COVID-19.”
The loser of the 2000 presidential election cited a study that he claimed showed a connection between “particulate pollution” in cities and higher virus infection rates.
In an online interview, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler asked if Gore saw a connection “between the change in climate, extreme weather, and other aspects of climate change and the advent of the virus.”
“Well, yes. I’d mention two important ones. First of all, we now know from multiple studies that the burning of fossil fuels should be understood as a precondition for higher death rates from COVID-19. A massive study of 324 cities in China showed a significant linear increase in infections and serious infections related to cities and communities where there is more particulate pollution in the air. Of course, the principal source of that is burning fossil fuels,” Gore said.
“We are encountering, now, five new infectious diseases every year. And three quarters of them are called zoonotic diseases, which I now know means they come from animals to humans. And of course, that’s where SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, came from—from bats in a region near Wuhan. And that’s happening because we are steadily encroaching more and more into the wild, previously wild areas of the world where there are literally millions of viruses that human beings have not encountered,” he said.
“Now, the consequences of the climate crisis in disrupting the water cycle, creating storms like the one headed toward the U.S. coast right now, creating the fires like those that are raging in California and Nevada right now and Oregon, actually shift the balance along—mainly, with the higher temperatures—in the relationship between humans and microbes, and they shift the balance in favor of microbes. We’re seeing tropical diseases move pole-ward, north in the northern hemisphere, south in the southern hemisphere, and air travel has a lot to do with that. But the places where they take root and become endemic is very much affected by the changed climate conditions where these viruses travel,” Gore said.
Adler also asked Gore a hypothetical question about what should happen if Trump declares the 2020 election results illegitimate.
“I don’t know,” Gore said. “But it’s important to say that it’s really not up to him. I hear people saying, ‘Well, will he accept the decision?’ Well, it doesn’t matter; it’s not up to him. Because at noon on January 20, if a new president is elected … the police force, the Secret Service, the military, all of the executive branch officers, will respond to the command and direction of the new president.”
Gore added: “I’m hoping that it will be a decisive victory [for Joe Biden], but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because like a lot of people in my political party, I felt kind of optimistic four years ago, and we all saw what happened. So I don’t think anybody who is a partisan for Biden and Harris are gonna be relaxing or coasting just because they have a lead in the polls right now.”