Climate change is occurring far faster than even the worst predictions of the UN's Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change foresaw, Al Gore warned Thursday.
New evidence shows "the climate crisis is significantly worse and unfolding more rapidly than those on the pessimistic side of the IPCC projections had warned us," the former US vice president and climate campaigner told delegates at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
There are now forecasts that the North Pole ice cap may disappear entirely during summer months in as little as five years, Gore said.
"This is a planetary emergency. There has never been anything remotely like it in the entire history of human civilisation. We are putting at risk all of human civilisation," he added.
He said that the single most important policy that could be implemented would be a tax on carbon emissions that is applied across the whole world, "so that those who don't pay the price for carbon don't have an advantage over those who do."
"I think it is really important from a climate change point of view to move away from the idea that personal actions from each of us represents the solution to this crisis.
"These are important... but in addition to changing the light bulbs it is important to change the laws," Gore said.
Again, we have to keep in mind that, as these events progress, they will push attention and resources away from all the other things that seem so important to us now, including corrections sentencing. If we think there are pressures to find other ways to achieve equal or greater crime and victim reduction than prison now, those pressures will multiply enormously in the foreseeable future. The costs to government of shoring up and retrofitting, not to mention the impacts of relocating, energy spirals, and water shortage, will dwarf what we’re facing at this moment. If we wait until hooey and fan meet, the costs and effectiveness of what we end up doing will be first much higher and second much lower. Global warming is a corrections sentencing issue whether we like that or not. I don’t see anything to give confidence that we as a nation and a planet will address what we need to do to slow the effects of the warming in anything like the way we will need to so the impact on what corr sent does will probably max out. So, the time for action is now.