H/T Ellie Belle
In a Nov. 9 Guest Editorial in the august New York Times, Nobel laureate and erstwhile VP Albert Gore offers a sort of a Unified Filed Theory of Big Government Solutions to All of Life’s Problems. [emphasis mine throughout]
The 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. …
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.
I’m not sure I’m really in the mood to be transformed, but Al says there’s something real, something practical we can do about these problems! What is it, Al?
Here’s 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 the earth.
What 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. In 2007, geothermal, solar and wind energy combined accounted for 1.6% of the 41 quadrillion BTUs of electrical power generation in the U.S. For those of you who haven’t noticed, it’s a really, really big economy, and we use lots and lots of electricity. (Note: Al is silent on the subjects of nuclear and hydro, which currently supply 27% of electricity.)
Al’s proposal is to grow the contribution from geothermal, solar and wind by a factor of 50, even before accounting for population growth. *In just ten years. *
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.
Have you had an engineer look at this, Al? Nah, I didn’t think so. Putting a man on the moon was a pretty big deal, and it took a big commitment, but the fact that you’d use that as a point of comparison underscores the point that you have absolutely no concept of the scale, the scope and the implications of your proposal.
First, the 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.
It’s gonna be really tough to get much growth out of geothermal – hot spots are near plate boundaries and volcanoes, so unless you’re ready to start drilling in Yellowstone, you’re probably not going to even double it. And so far, solar has not had much of an impact on power generation – but you apparently want to line the Grand Canyon with tinfoil. Are there property rights issues, Al? Environmental impacts for the scale of the projects you propose? Oh, how rude of me to interrupt, when you’re busy trying to save my grandbabies!
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. …
Third, we should help America’s automobile industry … 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.
But, if all 250,000,000 of our cars are plug-in hybrids, doesn’t that mean we’ll need even more electrical generating capacity?
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 national grid.
On second thought, it’s better for Al if we don’t think about it! If we plug in our cars and sell the electricity back to the grid, how is the car going to run when we need it to? Has Al Gore invented the Perpetual Motion Machine?
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 … 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.
“Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from buildings.” Presumably, the other 60% comes from gasbag ex-Vice Presidents.
Fifth, 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.
A treaty more effective than Kyoto? Well, that shouldn’t be much of a problem!
OK, so thus far, Al, your Unified Theory of Everything offers a solution not only for Global Warming, the Balance of Trade Deficit, High Unemployment, Our Aging Infrastructure and the Stock Market Crisis, but in the process we also get to solve the Mortgage Crisis while saving the Rain Forests! Uh, while we’re at it maybe we can find a cure for the Burning Itch of Psoriasis…