Al Gore just spoke to a packed Daughters of the American Revolution hall and challenged America to use 100% renewable energy by 2018. It was a good speech (Full speech text here) and it’s an audacious goal.
Gore argues that a ten year national goal has proven to be the perfect balance of long-term thinking and short-term immediacy. He points to the Marshall Plan, the Interstate Highway System, and of course, the Apollo Project as examples of bold goals that America was able to achieve in a decade or so.
But there are two rather formidable challenges.
The first is a combination of extremely powerful vested interests mixed with the legitimately glacial nature of changing our energy infrastructure on such a massive scale.
The second is that our broken political system allows already-powerful vested interests – we’re talking coal and oil companies here – to run the system. Gore acknowledged this and blamed it for the “baby step policies” that succeed only in not offending special interests, but he fell short of prescribing any political changes that need to happen.
I’d love to think that a few million people on a grassroots email list could make completely upend our energy sourcing, infrastructure, and consumption habits, but I’m afraid it’s going to take a lot more. That’s why I’m working for publicly funded federal elections. I believe that we need to attack the root of this (and many other problems): an electoral system that lopsidedly favors vested interests.
So the question is: Can America still be bold? Can we still achieve an ambitious goal if we put ourselves to it? Moving first on this issue is in our own national interest.
Some fun facts and quotes:
We send $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil.
One OPEC official noted that “the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones”
Gore drew the most applause in ridiculing the notion that drilling for more oil and giving more money to oil companies is going to do anything to alleviate our pain at the pump. He said only a dysfunctional system would suggest such a “solution” and that the best way to bring gas prices down would be to stop using gas. The real driver of energy costs is increased energy use by China, India, and others, and this isn’t going to slow regardless of whether we stop funding our own infrastructure with a $0.14 tax.
Some related Onion fun:
By Tony Hayward
The National Intelligence Council recently addressed Congress to discuss the security threats that need to be considered in the face of global warming. What risks are expected to be aggravated by global warming?
Military protection fails when sun-drenched artillery far too hot to handle with bare hands
Invasion might catch America off guard while it’s cooling down in a movie theater
Glaciers embittered by the rising temperatures may stage revenge “suicide meltings” on innocent civilians
Frozen Mongol warriors may be defrosted and angry
Too muggy to tell if terrorists have attacked
Heatstroke affecting thousands of security officials, allowing millions of 3-ounce gels to enter aircraft unnoticed
Increased precipitation will allow terrorists to conduct activity more surreptitiously under large umbrellas
Natural disaster could occur on 9/11, dividing nation’s patriotic sentiment
Al Gore becoming even more powerful