It was a difficult year for many Americans, and climate change is largely to blame. Between those hit by hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, and others affected by wildfires in California, there were many who had to deal with hardship brought on by the changing climate. But through it all, one key figure in the climate change conversation remains optimistic.

Al Gore, the former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee whose film, An Inconvenient Truth, thrust climate change into the national conversation, sat down for an interview with USA Today in which he said some “signs of progress” were visible despite the rocky 2017.

Gore, who was at the Palm Springs International Film Festival to screen his new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, said there were plenty of reasons for optimism apparent worldwide. India, for example, is committed to selling only electric vehicles by 2030, and China is beginning a new carbon trading program that will cut pollution. The former VP theorized that 2017’s weather disasters might be remembered as a tipping point that motivated people around the globe to take action.

“We saw it with the marriage equality movement,” Gore said. “We saw it earlier with the civil rights movement. All these movements have bumped along very slowly with an agonizingly slow pace, and then all of a sudden, there’s an inflection, and people say, ‘Oh, I get it.’ We’re at that point now with efforts to solve the climate crisis.”

There is optimism that the events of 2017 could make a difference, as climate change is harder now to ignore than ever before. Federal scientists say that 2017 was America’s third-hottest year on record, and financial losses stemming from climate disasters exceeded $1 billion for the first time. Gore believes that this new evidence will spark a strong response from the United States and from the world.

“People are connecting the dots on their own,” he said.

Wondering what you can do as an individual to fight climate change? Start with these four green New Year’s resolutions.

Photo: txking /