the al gore ten year challenge: is it possible?

No time to comment now, but here’s a clip from the “New York Times“:

Former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday urged the United States to wean the nation from its entire electricity grid to carbon-free energy within 10 years, warning that drastic steps were needed to avoid a global economic and ecological cataclysm.

Like a modern Jeremiah, Mr. Gore called down thunder to justify the spending of trillions of dollars to remake the American power system, a plan fraught with technological and political challenges that goes far beyond the changes recently debated in Congress and by world leaders.

“The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,” he said in a midday speech to a friendly crowd of mostly young supporters in Washington. “And even more — if more should be required — the future of human civilization is at stake”…

He said the United States and the rest of the world were facing unprecedented problems, including growing demand for electricity, dangerous changes in the climate driven largely by emissions of carbon dioxide and political instability in regions that produce much of the world’s oil.

“When we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges — the economic, environmental and national security crises,” Mr. Gore said. “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that has to change”…

“Mr. Gore is continuing his talent of identifying the key challenges, emphasizing urgency and translating it to a broad audience. That’s terrific,” said Ernest J. Moniz, director of the energy initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former under secretary at the Department of Energy in the Clinton administration. “Everyone agrees that the solution to the climate challenge is decarbonization and the first place to go is the electricity sector. Can we get there that fast? Obviously it’s very, very tough”…

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11 Comments

  1. Meta
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Gore is getting some conservative buy-in too:

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/statement-bob-barr-vice-president-al-gores-campaign/

  2. It's not too late
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Global warming is a myth, Algore is an ass. This “crisis” is designed to destroy the middle class. The eco propaganda starts in nursery school and has reached everyone under the age of 40.

  3. Posted July 18, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    We need to get the stupid liberals to stop getting in the way of drilling for more oil.

    I think we should retry Nixon.

  4. Posted July 18, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Bob Barr is a Libertarian, not conservative. Big difference.

    Also, I believe Nixon would support this too. The neo-cons of today are a far cry from what conservatives use to be.

    From wikipedia…

    “Although often viewed as a conservative by his contemporaries, Nixon’s domestic policies often appear centrist, or even liberal, to later observers. As President, Nixon imposed wage and price controls, indexed Social Security for inflation, and created Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The number of pages added to the Federal Register each year doubled under Nixon. He eradicated the last remnants of the gold standard, created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), promoted the Legacy of parks program and implemented the Philadelphia Plan, the first significant federal affirmative action program, and dramatically increased spending on federal employees’s salaries. In the wake of racial tensions that had sometimes erupted into urban violence before he assumed the Presidency, Nixon’s policy on race relations and civil rights was perceived to be influenced by a doctrine commonly referred to as “benign neglect.” As a party leader, Nixon helped build the Republican Party (GOP), but he ran his 1972 campaign separately from the party, which perhaps helped the GOP escape some of the damage from Watergate. The Nixon White House was the first to organize a daily press event and daily message for the media, a practice that all subsequent staffs have performed.”
    and yes I know, wikipedia is all LIES!

  5. Swing Chick
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Urban chickens will stop global warming!

    Chick power!

  6. Robert
    Posted July 19, 2008 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure how the global warming “myth” contributes to the destruction of the middle class. Mysterious “It’s not too late” visitor, would you elaborate please?

    I’m not sure I’m all on board with all the assertions and conclusions of the global warming crowd, but I don’t see how their proposals do anything but set a play-it-safe standard with regard to our place in the environment, and create a whole new industry which contributes to a better economy.

    It’s not “conservative” to be against taking precautions, and it’s hard in this economy to understand why anyone would be against creating a whole new eco-industry.

    The most bizarre thing to me is that with all the clear and immediate threats eroding the middle class in America, someone would be talking about something which is not so clearly a threat, and certainly not at all immediate.

  7. Mike doesn't have a clever name
    Posted July 19, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Robert,

    Yeah, the “destruction of the middle class” is a good one. I’m not sure if I’ve heard that one before.

    But they’re proposals do accomplish more than just setting a “play-it-safe standard.” The vast majority of the proposals seek to centralize control of enormous amounts of resources into the hands of a strong national, or in some cases, international, governing body. As most people, taken outside of the polarized atmosphere surrounding modern environmentalism, do generally understand the need for conservation, and would generally conserve resources that they privately own (which is advantageous for moral and economic reasons), I am skeptical of plans to hand over control to a largely corporate-owned government that may or may not choose to, or may or may not be able to, best allocate and protect resources. It is unfortunate that our conception of private property rights has not matured much in the light of advancing technologies, but that does not necessarily imply the need for central control. If we could expand our notion of private property rights to include not just the blades of grass on our lawn, but also the air molecules between them, and allowed pollution to be prosecuted as trespassing, at least at the local level, it would do much to reduce harmful pollution.

    I was listening to someone on the radio talking about the need for subsidies in the solar and wind industries. He was asked to reply to the “conservative” (I still can’t imagine being lumped in with most of those assholes) opinion that we should let the market work it out free of government intervention. His answer was that because oil and coal receive so many subsidies, that wind and solar need them too to stay on a level playing field. I was floored, because he implicitly stated that his definition of “free of government intervention” seemed to mean that oil and coal receive subsidies, but wind and solar do not. I don’t care how many republican politicians have tried to deny this, but giving government subsidies to one sector of business pretty much qualifies as government intervention. Most of the common folk who oppose environmental subsidies don’t just hate the environment, or have a rich uncle in the oil industry, but they may not want to pay higher taxes or see their savings further weakened through inflation due to government debt. It would be much easier to convince them to level the playing field by removing those subsidies.

    And we have to remember how oil and coal were viewed when they started out. They freed countless people from a life of filth and disease living and working in close quarters to animal waste. Sure they made a little smoke, but nobody thought there would ever be any significant (and certainly no global) downside. As they became more widely used, and the industries became more friendly with government, a favorable public policy made it very difficult for emerging technologies to effectively compete, thus slowing investment in those technologies. Now, I would definitely prefer to have tax dollars subsidizing solar rather than oil, but even that causes problems. Maybe there’s some new technology out there that uses fewer resources than solar panels and wind turbines that hasn’t caught politicians attention because it’s been invented by a Steve Jobs in his garage instead of an IBM with political influence. Thank god we didn’t decide that government had to take charge in creating a whole new personal computer industry, because the grants would have certainly gone to IBM, and likely prevented Apple or Microsoft from making it off the ground.

  8. Posted July 20, 2008 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    Five great points that Gore made in this speech:
    1. Ten years is not too quick for us to accomplish a focused national goal; in fact, a longer time table would only diminish our ability to take any meaningful action. We have quickly surmounted enormous national challenges many times before. That is part of what makes us proud to be American.
    2. We can not wait for other nations, we must lead the world to the renewable energy future.
    3. More oil drilling won’t increase our national security nor decrease fuel costs.
    4. Increased demand and production of electricity made from fossil fuels exacerbates our oil addiction and drives costs up as oil supplies dwindle inexorably.
    5. Increased demand and production of solar powered electricity drives costs down (through economies inherent in mass production) as we harness an endless supply of sunlight with American-made solar panels.

  9. John on Forest
    Posted July 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I was take aback at Mr. Gore’s idea of doing it in just ten years. The more I think about it though, the more I think it really could be done.

    I think what he’s talking about is something like the Apollo project, which he cited, as well as the interstate highway system, before that the intercontinental railroad, and the CCC type creation of National Park resources.

    Moreover, Mr. Gore put forward this proposal only a few days after T. Boone Pickens proposed converting all natural gas generated electricity to wind generated electricity. The freed up natural gas (per Pickens) could be diverted to automobile fuel. While this proposal is not exactly the same as Gore’s it is compatible with it.

    I think the most important point both Gore and Pickens are making is that America’s importing of foreign oil is driving up national debt and is destabilizing internationally, therefore threatening national security.

    Can we generate 100% of our electricity from non-carbon based within 10 years? Maybe, maybe not. But we might be able to come close if we set it as a goal.

    I’m all for it.

  10. elviscostello
    Posted July 20, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    At the “non-Shadow Art Fair”, I was stopped at a DTE booth where they were talking with current customers about jacking up your bill $2.50 a month, and that would designate that 20% of your electricity (100 kw) would come from Windmills in Michigan and Methane production. I signed up, figuring that if it encourages them to build more windmills, etc, good…think I got scammed by DTE? Any thoughts?

  11. WillieBonkaz
    Posted July 21, 2008 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    His plan is possible here’s why http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/991/

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