Former vice president Al Gore today challenged the U.S. to go from getting more than half its electrical power from greenhouse gas-spewing coal-fired power plants to getting all of it from 100 percent carbon neutral sources in a decade. In other words: eliminate fossil fuels for electricity, until the greenhouse gases can be captured and buried, in favor of nuclear, solar, wind and geothermal.
In a plan he explicitly likened to President John F. Kennedy's “moon shot,” Gore called in a speech (transcript) for a national grid to link wind power in the Dakotas with cities to the east and west, improved energy efficiency, taxes on carbon dioxide, and even plug-in electric cars, though there were few details on how to pay for this ambitious transformation.
Gore is not the first to express this kind of ambition. The Apollo Alliance of business, labor and environmental groups was founded in 2004 for the same purpose, and leading scientists, such as Stephen Chu of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have made similar arguments. It is, however, the first time it has been advocated by such a prominent figure as the former politician, climate campaigner and Nobel laureate.
Gore explicitly called on "every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge" and "move beyond empty rhetoric." Otherwise, he said, "the survival of the United States of America as we know it" and even "the future of human civilization" is at risk.
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama said in reaction to the speech that he strongly agreed and would invest in "solar power, wind power and advanced biofuels" but did not pledge his commitment to the plan. Nor did Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain though, according to the AP, he said he believes it's "doable."
But the challenge isn't just aimed at politicians. What do you think?