Gore’s 10-Year Plan to Save the Planet

11: 46 AM – Approaching Constitution Hall, where Gore will be speaking, the first brochure handed to me from a vegan group, then another from an anti-meat group, next LaRouchies, then the large contingent of Americans for Prosperity and Bureaucrash and CEI interns. Great signs, lots of energy. I left my colleague William Yeatman at the counter-rally. Huge crowd of people outside on 18th waiting to get in. Apparently, thousands are on the waiting list. Not well organized. I just got in and found a very good seat a few rows up on the back balcony. Lots of upper balcony seats still to be filled. Young, well-heeled, casually-dressed group. Overwhelmingly white.

Heard an older woman ahead of me in line saying, “Now I’m getting really concerned about all the windmills and what they’ll do to bird migration patterns.” The woman she was with then shared a related concern that I couldn’t hear. It is sadly the case that for do-gooders the worries never end. Now to wait for Our Prophetic Leader. Still lots of seats to fill.

12:12 PM — It’s noon and the hall is almost full. Just a few hundred more. The woman next to me struck up a conversation by saying, “I just realized I’m not sure what the purpose of this is. Do you know?” Reply: “I think Al Gore is going to give us a 10-year plan to save the planet.” Mumbled reply, then we chatted pleasantly about attending various concerts here many years ago. Some seats on the edges of the upper balcony are still available, but people seem to have stopped coming in. Someone just came to the podium, but only put a folder down.

Most in the VIP section in front are still standing and chatting. OK, two people have come to the podium. Cathy Zoi (head of the We Campaign) is welcoming us, introduces the vice chairman, Sherry Boehlert (former Green Republican Representative from New York). Nine members of board, four Ds, four Rs, and one I (Gore is of course chairman). Amusing quote from Woody Allen, then: “Woody gave us humor; what you are about to hear gives us hope.” First met Al on the Science Committee in ‘82. You’re about to hear a challenge. But you (at CEI) are probably all listening on TV, so I won’t send a running account of what Gore is saying.

1:05 PM – Well, I left as soon as Gore ended. I walked four blocks toward the Metro station before hailing a cab. Yes, I must confess that I took a cab from CEI to Constitution Hall and now am taking a cab to the Hill for a meeting (despite an e-mail from the We Campaign admonishing me to walk, bike, take bus or subway). The Dark Side of the Force proposed that we dare to act boldly and pass laws that will require that 100 percent of our electricity be produced from renewable sources within 10 years. This 10-year plan will move us from coal, natural gas, and nuclear (not sure if hydropower still qualifies as a renewable) to solar, wind, and geothermal power.

This will be achieved by the rapid price reductions for renewable power that have already been achieved, plus the enormous economies of scale that will cause even more rapid price decreases in the next few years, plus continuing increases in prices for hydrocarbon fuels, plus additional increases through a carbon tax (which will replace the payroll tax).

Some people may see this ambitious goal as impossible to achieve. Those are the people who are defending Big Oil, King Coal, etc., and the people who have given us our current dysfunctional politics, and people who don’t rise to big challenges, dream great thoughts, dare to achieve great goals — that is, people who aren’t really Americans. The 10-year plan is commensurate with the threat, which threatens the survival of our country and of human civilization as we know it.

Whew! Well, I don’t normally drink carbonated beverages (at least not non-alcoholic ones) out of respect for the planet, but I think I’ll have a Coca-Cola with my sandwich. The fact is that utilities are having a hard time keeping up with population and demand growth building every kind of power plant they can — coal, natural gas, wind. Meeting all new demand in the next few decades just with renewables would be extremely difficult and expensive. Doing that and replacing all current coal and gas power plants in ten years is preposterous.