Al Gore headlines NASCAR Green Summit in Chicago

Al Gore headlines NASCAR Green Summit in Chicago

On the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Former Vice President of the United States and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project Al Gore gave a speech in Chicago that included a line evoking Ground Zero in New York City.

At the 2013 NASCAR Green Summit, Al Gore said:

"When my movie (An Inconvenient Truth) first came out, one of the criticisms from the people who just don't get it, was about the World Trade Center site being underwater- that's not going to happen. They said.

And here it happened ahead of schedule last October," referencing Superstorm Sandy.

As threatening as terrorist attacks are, extreme natural disasters brought on by climate change can be even more deadly and scary.

But it wasn't all gloom and doom in the 15 minutes Al Gore was at the podium at Venue 610 on South Michigan Avenue. He actually opened by telling this joke about the film Sharknado. Expect a Miley Cyrus twerking joke when Gore gives a speech in December.

Al Gore certainly had his moments but the man that preceded him, Retired 4-star U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, was by far the most captivating speaker of the day.

“It’s all connected- war, energy, climate change. Forty years, three wars, trillions of dollars, is what we’re paying in national security to import oil. Every economic crisis has been caused by a jump in the price of oil. We elevated oil in oil producing countries,” the former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe and NATO said.

Clark is the Co-Chairman of Growth Energy and was considered a top candidate to be Obama’s running mate in 2008. The way he owned the room today, you’d think Wesley Clark was running for office. Or will be soon.

And he'd likely win.

Of course, Clark addressed the current crisis in Syria, and took questions on the same topic from the media after his time on dais.

Al Gore worked very closely with NASCAR CEO Brian France on NASCAR Green, which was celebrating its fifth year today.

"He's a big NASCAR fan," France said of the man who won the 2000 Presidential Election popular vote, but lost the Supreme Court vote 5-4.

France also discussed NASCAR's place in Chicago:

"It's a very busy market, with all that goes on this time of year, but we like the Chicago market, the Midwest in general, is an extraordinary place for NASCAR."

NASCAR fans are nearly 70% more likely to support the use of ethanol blended with gasoline to fuel NASCAR race cars, and more than 50% more likely to support the use of ethanol blended with gasoline to fuel their own car. (Source- Custom Environment-Related Tracker commissioned by NASCAR and conducted by Toluna (July 2013).

Today also saw UNEP, United Nations Environmental Programme, release the results of an alarming new study. Waste of 1.3 billion tons of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself, says a new FAO report.

The study claims $750 billion in annual economic consequences. I covered events at the UN in 2008, and reached out to Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General.

"UNEP and FAO have identified food waste and loss--food wastage--as a major opportunity for economies everywhere to assist in a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and inclusive Green Economy. Today's excellent report by the FAO underlines the multiple benefits that can be realized," said Steiner.

Today, was all about NASCAR environmental initiatives, and Al Gore was indeed the event's rock star. However, General Clark gave a much more compelling and interesting speech.

“It (foreign oil dependence) got us more deeply involved in a volatile region that has a long long long way to go,” he said referring to American foreign policy in the Middle East.

"We're talking green here, but we're also talking American national security," asserted Clark.

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener is at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet on Sunday, Sept. 15 (1 p.m. CDT, ESPN).

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and Facebook.

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