ABC News Online, Posted Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:09pm AEST
Former US vice-president and environmental activist Al Gore says Victoria's recent bushfires underline the importance of a global deal on climate change.
The climate change campaigner is in Melbourne, where he is supporting the Federal Government's push to implement an emissions trading scheme.
Mr Gore says Australia's own experience with bushfires, floods and cyclones shows why a global deal on climate change is imperative.
"What they do say again with increasing force is that the odds have been shifted so heavily that fires that used to be manageable now threaten to spin out of control and wreak damages that are far beyond what was experienced in the past," he said.
"The planet now has a fever.
"If you have a young child with a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor tells you ... you have to take some serious medical action, the typical response from parents is not 'well I was listening to a commentator on the radio the other day and I think you're wrong doctor.' You may ask for a second opinion, and that's what the world has done."
Mr Gore was helping to launch a new organisation called Safe Climate Australia that wants to link science, business, government and the community to press the case for a national response to the challenges of climate change.
"It is an emergency. We really do have to act," he said.
Mr Gore had been speaking at a conference in Melbourne to train 300 people from across the Asia-Pacific region as climate ambassadors.
"When a sheep farmer talks to other farmers, when a firefighter talks to other firefighters, the word spreads," he said.