Friday, April 3, 2009 | 12:34 p.m.
The technology industry has a big role to play in turning around the economy and improving the environment, former Vice President Al Gore told attendees of a Las Vegas convention Friday.
"Information is the dominant strategic resource in the economy in the 21st century,'' Gore said.
Gore is known as a techie himself and is a board member of Apple Inc. and a senior adviser to Google. He spoke to several thousand people in town for the International CTIA Wireless tradeshow and conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Because of the recession, attendance at the event was expected to be off about 10 percent from last year's 40,000 people.
Reviewing technology achievements by the wireless industry, Gore noted that building heating and cooling systems and electricity and other energy networks can now be monitored and controlled remotely using wireless technology; while consumers can now use smart phones to transmit real-time, critical information to health care providers such as their blood pressure and blood-sugar levels.
Just as Moore's law correctly predicted the speed and power of microchips would grow exponentially, new technologies continue to be introduced at a fast pace, benefiting consumers and businesses, he said.
"You are able to tap into this amazing source of productivity gains. It is helping to grow our economy,'' he said.
Gore, pitching his long-standing argument that the use of fossil fuels should be cut, said businesses can play a big role by investing for the long term rather than worrying about immediate financial returns.
"We have to break out of the short-term, quarterly-report mentality,'' he said.
Government policymakers and businesses, he said, must continue to push the use of renewable resources and conservation measures.
"The old alleged conflict between the economy and the environment is mostly a myth,'' he said.
Without sustained action, he warned, temperatures could rise 11 degrees in the next 100 years with catastrophic results as ice and snow melt at unprecedented rates, raising the level of the ocean while creating droughts devastating to agriculture and promoting the spread of tropical diseases out of the tropics.
Gore opened his speech with a laugh by saying, "I used to be the next president of the United States.'' The former Tennessee senator and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth,'' won an Academy Award the same year.
Gore's speech was preceded by a presentation from the wireless industry, which says more and more cell phones and smart phones are being made with recycled materials, that more than two thirds of adults now know that their wireless devices are recyclable, that more efficient batteries and chargers are being developed and that cell phone companies -- which have considerable electricity bills to run their cell towers -- are more and more looking to power their operations with wind power and other renewable sources.