The Climate for Change
The Climate for Change
By AL GORE
Published: November 9, 2008
inspiring and transformative choice by the American people to elect
Barack Obama as our 44th president lays the foundation for another
fateful choice that he — and we — must make this January to begin an
emergency rescue of human civilization from the imminent and rapidly
growing threat posed by the climate crisis.
redemption of America’s revolutionary declaration that all human beings
are born equal sets the stage for the renewal of United States
leadership in a world that desperately needs to protect its primary
endowment: the integrity and livability
of the planet.
The world authority on the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, after 20 years of detailed study and four
unanimous reports, now says that the evidence is “unequivocal.” To
those who are still tempted to dismiss the increasingly urgent alarms
from scientists around the world, ignore the melting of the north polar
ice cap and all of the other apocalyptic warnings from the planet
itself, and who roll their eyes at the very mention of this existential
threat to the future of the human species, please wake up. Our children
and grandchildren need you to hear and recognize the truth of our
situation, before it is too late.
Here is the good news: the
bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the
same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis
and the energy security crisis.
Economists across the
spectrum — including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers — agree
that large and rapid investments in a jobs-intensive infrastructure
initiative is the best way to revive our economy in a quick and
sustainable way. Many also agree that our economy will fall behind if
we continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign oil
every year. Moreover, national security experts in both parties agree
that we face a dangerous strategic vulnerability if the world suddenly
loses access to Middle Eastern oil.
Abraham Lincoln said during America’s darkest hour, “The occasion is
piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our
case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.” In our present case,
thinking anew requires discarding an outdated and fatally flawed
definition of the problem we face.
Thirty-five years ago this
past week, President Richard Nixon created Project Independence, which
set a national goal that, within seven years, the United States would
develop “the potential to meet our
own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy sources.” His
statement came three weeks after the Arab oil embargo had sent prices
skyrocketing and woke America to the dangers of dependence on foreign
oil. And — not coincidentally — it came only three years after United
States domestic oil production had peaked.
the time, the United States imported less than a third of its oil from
foreign countries. Yet today, after all six of the presidents
succeeding Nixon repeated some version of his goal, our dependence has
doubled from one-third to nearly two-thirds — and many feel that global
oil production is at or near its peak.
Some still see this as
a problem of domestic production. If we could only increase oil and
coal production at home, they argue, then we wouldn’t have to rely on
imports from the Middle East. Some have come up with even dirtier and
more expensive new ways to extract the same old fuels, like coal
liquids, oil shale, tar sands
and “clean coal” technology.
But in every case, the
resources in question are much too expensive or polluting, or, in the
case of “clean coal,” too imaginary to make a difference in protecting
either our national security or the global climate. Indeed, those who
spend hundreds of millions promoting “clean coal” technology
consistently omit the fact that there is little investment and not a
single large-scale demonstration project in the United States for
capturing and safely burying all of this pollution. If the coal
industry can make good on this promise, then I’m all for it. But until
that day comes, we simply cannot any longer base the strategy for human
survival on a cynical and self-interested illusion.
what we can do — now: we can make an immediate and large strategic
investment to put people to work replacing 19th-century energy
technologies that depend on dangerous and expensive carbon-based fuels
with 21st-century technologies that use
fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of
follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to
producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources
within 10 years. It is a plan that would simultaneously move us toward
solutions to the climate crisis and the economic crisis — and create
millions of new jobs that cannot be outsourced.
new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment
in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants
in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from
Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that
could produce large amounts of electricity.
Second, we should
begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid
for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where
it is mostly generated to the cities where it is
mostly used. New high-voltage, low-loss underground lines can be
designed with “smart” features that provide consumers with
sophisticated information and easy-to-use tools for conserving
electricity, eliminating inefficiency and reducing their energy bills.
The cost of this modern grid — $400 billion over 10 years — pales in
comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion
due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current
balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.
we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three
but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to
plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be
available as the rest of this plan matures. In combination with the
unified grid, a nationwide fleet of plug-in hybrids would also help to
solve the problem of electricity storage. Think about it: with this
sort of grid, cars could be charged during
off-peak energy-use hours; during peak hours, when fewer cars are on
the road, they could contribute their electricity back into the
Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient
windows and lighting. Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide
emissions in the United States come from buildings — and stopping that
pollution saves money for homeowners and businesses. This initiative
should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who
are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.
the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here
at home, and by leading the world’s efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty
next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global
carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in
efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by
sharply reducing deforestation.
Of course, the best way — indeed the only way — to secure a global agreement to safeguard our future is by re-establishing the United States as the country with the moral and political authority to lead the world toward a solution.
ahead, I have great hope that we will have the courage to embrace the
changes necessary to save our economy, our planet and ultimately
In an earlier transformative era in American
history, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man
on the moon within 10 years. Eight years and two months later, Neil
Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. The average age of the systems
engineers cheering on Apollo 11 from the Houston control room that day
was 26, which means that their average age when President Kennedy
announced the challenge was 18.
This year similarly saw the
rise of young Americans, whose enthusiasm electrified Barack Obama’s
campaign. There is little doubt that this same group of energized youth
will play an essential role in this project to secure our national
future, once again turning seemingly impossible goals into inspiring
Gore, the vice president from 1993 to 2001, was the co-recipient of the
Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He founded the Alliance for Climate
Protection and, as a businessman, invests in alternative energy
More Articles in Opinion » A version of this article appeared in print on November 9, 2008, on page WK10 of the New York edition.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
i will sell al some of my carbon credits he really needs them. i call him bigfoot when it comes to carbon footprints
Published on Sunday, November 9, 2008 by Agence France Presse
Internet Revolution That Elected Obama Could Save Earth: Gore
US vice president Al Gore said an Internet revolution carrying Barack
Obama to the White House should now focus its power on stopping Earth’s
The one-time presidential contender turned
environmental champion told Web 2.0 Summit goers in San Francisco
Friday that technology has provided tools to save the planet while
creating jobs and stimulating the crippled economy.
inspired by Barack Obama’s campaign and the movement that powered Barack Obama’s campaign want a purpose," Gore said.
Internet’s critical role in Democrat Obama’s victory in the
presidential race against Republican John McCain was a "great blow for
victory" in addressing a "democracy crisis" stifling action against
climate change, Gore said.
nearly every aspect of running for US president and delivered an
"electrifying redemption" of the founding national principle that all
people are created equal, according to Gore.
Gore said in greeting to an audience that leapt to its feet cheering.
"It really was overwhelming. It couldn’t have happened without the
validation of sorts for Gore, who lost to Bush in a controversial election outcome in 2000.
leaving politics Gore has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his
relentless efforts to combat climate change and starred in an Academy
Award-winning global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
also founded Current TV, a cable television operation that taps into
user-generated videos and news coverage fed to its website.
one-time newspaper reporter said his reasons for creating Current
included a belief in the need to "democratize television media."
of the main reasons why our political system has not been operating
well until this election is the unhealthy influence of the television
medium as it has operated," Gore said.
forms of information are living on the Internet but TVs are still dampening it."
TV teamed with Twitter and Digg on election night to weave feeds from
the popular Internet websites into its coverage of the vote.
Web has the potential to "revolutionize almost every aspect" of running
for US president, according to Gore. He believes that social activism
made possible by people connecting and sharing information online is in
range of possibilities and now is the time to really move swiftly to
exploit these new possibilities," Gore said of turning the power of the Internet to cooling global warming.
said Obama should announce a national goal of getting all US electric
power from renewable and non-carbon energy within the next decade and
spend the billions necessary to build an "electrinet" smart power grid.
purpose I would urge is to bring about a higher level of consciousness
about our relationship to this planet and the imminent danger we face.
We have everything we need to save it."