Gore Challenges America to 100% Clean Energy in 10 Years

WASHINGTON, DC, July 18, 2008 (ENS) – “Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years,” said former Vice President and Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore Thursday.

Speaking to an audience at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, Gore said, “This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.”

Gore says America is at a turning point and immediate action is required to utilize the abundant supplies of wind, solar and geothermal energy that exist right now in the United States.

“There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger,” Gore said.

“In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside,” he said.

“This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake.”

Al Gore emphasizes the urgency of
immediate action to reverse climate
change. July 17, 2008 (Photo by
Matthew Bradley)

The speech was given to draw public attention to Gore’s latest project, the We Can Solve It Campaign, a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Gore, with the ultimate aim of halting global warming.

Gore said transformation must happen within 10 years because the climate crisis is worsening more quickly than predicted.

“Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland,” Gore told the audience at Constitution Hall.

“According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.”

Gore cited two studies from military intelligence experts warning about “the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.”

“Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.”

Gore says the answer is to stop relying on carbon-based fuels.

“In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis,” he told the audience, “I have held a series of ‘solutions summits’ with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices.”

“They are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf,” he said.

Gore says American can use fuels that are not expensive, do not cause pollution and are abundantly available within the United States.

“We have such fuels,” he said. “Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.”

“And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of U.S. electricity demand,” said Gore.

“Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.”

One by one, Gore set up the possible criticisms his plan might face and knocked them down.

“To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge,” he said.

“To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.”

Gore says his plan will not only free the country from the shakles of foreign oil but also build back the faltering economy.

“When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home,” he said.

“Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done,” said Gore. “Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo – the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise.”

“To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years,” said Gore.

“The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down,” he said.

“To those who say the challenge is not politically viable: I suggest they go before the American people and try to defend the status quo. Then bear witness to the people’s appetite for change,” Gore said.

“I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil.”

“And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.”

Gore said the 10 year target he proposes is the right amount of time to allow for focused action without losing sight of the goal.

“Some of our greatest accomplishments as a nation have resulted from commitments to reach a goal that fell well beyond the next election: the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the interstate highway system. But a political promise to do something 40 years from now is universally ignored because everyone knows that it’s meaningless,” Gore said. “Ten years is about the maximum time that we as a nation can hold a steady aim and hit our target.”

Gore served as vice president of the United States from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. He served first in the U.S. House of Representatives (1977–85) and later in the U.S. Senate (1985–93) representing Tennessee before becoming vice president.

In 2007, Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for “efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

He is the author of the 2006 text, “An Inconvenient Truth,” a slide show on global warming and starred in the Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” released in conjunction with the book. He helped to organize the July 7, 2007 set of Live Earth benefit concerts to combat global warming.

Gore is currently the cofounder and chairman of Generation Investment Management, cofounder and chairman of the Emmy award winning American television channel Current TV, a member of the Board of Directors of Apple Inc., and a Senior Advisor to Google. He is also a partner in the venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, heading that firm’s climate change solutions group.

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