Speaking at Tel Aviv University's Renewable Energy Conference on Tuesday, former U.S. vice president Al Gore, called on Israel to take the lead in the development of renewable energy sources.
"The people of Israel stand in my moral imagination as guardians of the proposition that we as human beings are answerable to moral beauties, that there are ethical laws that should guide our decisions and choices at this moment in history in which for the first time all the people of this earth have to make a clear, seemingly difficult but quite clear -moral judgment about our future. The people of Israel can lead the way to renewable energy."
"We do face a planetary emergency. The phrase sounds shrill to many, but it is unfortunately quite accurate," Gore said during his address at Tel Aviv University Monday, where the Dan David Foundation awarded him its annual prize in the "present" category for alerting the world to the crisis caused by overuse of fossil fuels. Prizes were also awarded in the "past" and "future" categories.
Noting that "30 percent of the icebergs at the North Pole have melted over the past 20 years," Gore warned that unless humanity brings about a change, it will be facing disaster. He called for urgent action for "our children" and future generations, adding that he understood he would have to pass the message from town to town and person to person.
President Shimon Peres also spoke at the conference and said that 'from an Israeli point of view, it's better to hang on the sun than to hang on oil-producing countries. The sun is more permanent, more objective, is not a member of the Arab League. We have direct connections and there is plenty of it."
The prize was awarded to Gore and others for their contribution to raising international awareness of environmental issues. The judges termed Gore the "world's leading politician" in his field, adding that his intensive activity, including political activity, lectures, films and books, has created a real change in awareness of climate change among both people and governments.
Gore, already a Nobel Prize laureate, said he would donate 10 percent of the prize to young researchers and the rest to the Alliance for Climate Protection.
The prize recipients in the "past category" were author Amos Oz, English playwright Tom Stoppard and director Atom Egoyan, who jointly received $1 million for their contribution to reflecting the past in works of literature, theater and cinema.
Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Lonnie Thompson and Geoffrey Eglinton jointly received the "future" prize for their contribution to earth sciences. Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken and TAU Rector Dan Levitan jointly presented the prize to Eglinton, a professor emeritus and senior research fellow in earth sciences at the University of Bristol.
The $3 million Dan David Prize has been awarded annually since 2002 to people and institutions that made outstanding contributions to humanity in the past, present and future categories ($1 million for each). Prize recipients all contribute 10 percent of their winnings to stipends for Ph.D. and post-doctoral students.
The Shani Choir sealed the ceremony with John Lennon's song Imagine in English, Arabic and Hebrew, while the symbol of Israel's 60th anniversary was screened on the wall.
In his address Monday, he said that 40 minutes of sunlight would provide a year'sworth of energy for the world. On Tuesday Al Gore gave the keynote address at TAU's Renewable Energy Conference.
Gore told his TAU audience that the Middle East's water shortage is a major part of the global climate crisis.
Gore praised Israel for irrigating its desert landscape. But he warned against decreasing water levels in the region's lakes and rivers and called for action, as water levels in both the Dead Sea and Jordan River are dropping quickly.
Environmental groups say the nation's water-hungry agriculture industry puts too much strain on its limited natural resources. Jordan and Israel have joined together in a campaign to save the Dead Sea, which borders both nations.
On Monday, Gore received the $1 million Dan David prize for his work helping the environment
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