Mike Terry, Deseret News
Elder M. Russell Ballard, left, of the Quorum of the Twelve talks with former Vice President Al Gore at the Church Administration Building.

Former Vice President Al Gore met with LDS Church leaders Thursday evening to talk about global warming, a meeting that was his only stop during a brief visit to Salt Lake City.

The environmental activist had a brief courtesy meeting with LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson before sitting down with other church officials for a more detailed discussion, LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said.

"Mr. Gore had a cordial meeting with Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Quentin L. Cook, and others members of the church's public-affairs committee," Trotter said. "He gave a 30-minute presentation and expressed his concerns about CO2 emissions, which was followed by several minutes of questions and answers."

The meeting was scheduled at Gore's request, Trotter said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not taken a position on global warming, but did participate in last week's "Earth Hour," by dimming the lights of the Salt Lake Temple.

"Prudent stewardship and wise use of resources are principles that church leaders have emphasized throughout the history of the church," Trotter said last week of the church's participation in the worldwide event.

Gore was not available to the media while in Utah, but someone involved with his efforts explained that he "speaks frequently with a broad cross-section of people about the climate crisis, (and) this will be one of those conversations. Vice President Gore did initiate the meeting, but we are not commenting on the process."

A Washington, D.C., public-relations firm representing the environmental activist referred press inquiries about the meeting to the church.

Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said the visit validates "the church's significant efforts to construct environmentally friendly buildings," including part of the massive downtown City Creek development that is under way.

And, Jowers said, having a leading Democrat sitting down with Mormon leaders "can only reinforce what the church has been saying for a number of years: that both parties have principles compatible with the church's principles," which should encourage Utah Democrats.

Utah State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland agreed. "Absolutely it helps, especially when it's clear the church has an interest in this issue and has always had a history of stewardship of the planet," Holland said. "That the church is talking with people like Vice President Al Gore is good for us."

232 comments on this story

Gore — the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, as well as an Academy Award for a film on the subject, "An Inconvenient Truth" — wasn't expected to spend much time in Utah. He spoke Wednesday night in Chicago about three "crises" facing the country: the environment, economics and security, according to the Chicago Tribune. He is scheduled to address a wireless-communications-industry convention in Las Vegas on Friday morning.

Even though Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, has been active on climate-change issues, he did not meet with the former vice president, his spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, told the Deseret News.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com