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8lightminutesaway's avatar

What do you think of Al Gore's challenge?

Asked by 8lightminutesaway (1413points) July 22nd, 2008

Al Gore haters aside, what do you of think of Al Gore’s challenge in this speech?

“I challenge our nation to commit to producing %100 of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources within ten years… ”

can we do it? i think so.

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29 Answers

Dog's avatar

I like the idea- it has to be done for us to protect the planet and help us advance to a better way of life. I feel it is our evolutionary role as humans on the planet.

HOWEVER- that being said I would respect the speech more if it came from Ed Begly Jr. who walks the talk.

Dog's avatar

Just want to add that I don’t hate Gore.
In my eyes he is neither good nor bad and it would be great if the challenge was met and exceeded.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I think it is very possible. My only concern is that it comes from solar plants and wind farms, which I am against. I always hear about becoming energy independent, I hope that means that individuals will be producing their own energy, rather than it being provided and controlled by large corporations. Otherwise, I guarantee we will be in the position we are in now.

Indy318's avatar

In theory it seems like a great idea, however, it will probably never work out commerically. Nonnewable sources of energy will alwalys make up a majority of our energy dependance because right now they are cheap (yes, gas is a lot cheaper than most renewble sources) and plentiful. This idea may be taken more seriously in the future when nonrenewable sources become scare. Once again people will not react to global warming until it hits them in the wallet. Once gas is $250 a barrel and conflict in the middle east is irrevirsible, people will start to overlook the cost of renewable energy in order to save our planet from peril.

marinelife's avatar

I think we should strive to meet this challenge. I hope there will be more.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@chris6137 why are you agains solar plants and wind farms?

@Indy318 maybe, but consider when Kennedy set a goal to go to the moon in 10 years… everyone thought he was crazy. But we did it.

@Dog, yeah I know, I hear a lot of crap about his house.

I’ll respond more in depth later to you guys, but thank you for your replies

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I feel that we as individuals should be more involved in producing the necessities in life rather than large corporations, such as food and energy.
I feel if we are producing our own energy, we will be more conscious of the amount of energy we use, we can sell the power back to the grid provider, and be in complete control of your own energy. It will also give more opportunities to new small businesses rather than just creating mediocre jobs for people working for power companies.

Think about it…. If we produce our own energy and food, and can abolish the property tax, we could actually free. I mean really free. We could have the time to do what we really want to be doing, rather than working this stupid 40 hour work week, just to get by.
Unfortunately, since our system of capitalism in this country requires constant growth in order for it not to collapse, i doubt this will ever happen.

Dog's avatar

Ed Begly rides a stationary bicycle to generate his own energy for his morning toast.
If we all followed suit we would not only be a more efficient nation but we would be more fit and obesity rates would decline.

Just dreaming.

peggylou's avatar

I feel relief that someone has finally suggested a plan that could solve three of the largest problems for our country and our earth! In the past, I had no idea how we could turn this mess around. I truly feel this could work. So much so that I’m even putting my money where my mouth is!

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@chris, I see what you’re saying. That seems like a really great long term goal, but right now, not many people are going to put up the up front investment for their own solar/wind, the return is too long. I really like your point though, and I hope it is that way someday. For now though, we need those corporations. It is the fastest way to solve the problem, I think.

@Dog, I think I actually want to do that… I’m going to search online for some designs :) once I have some spare money again, I’ll do it.

@peggylou, great! :) Did you sign up for the newsletter and stuff?

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Im not trying to attack you, but we need to stop coming up with solutions and start identifying the problems before coming up with solutions. Its not just the dependence on foreign oil that is hurting us, it is us being dependent on big business. Think about it, big business is going to run food, energy, and possibly health care. Does anyone else see a problem with this? WE need to control our necessities, not big business. They dont care about us, all they care about is profits.

Ex. Oilman T. Boone Pickens wants to build wind farms down south. We are going to end up giving all the control of energy, to the very same people that have it now.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/opinion/22tue3.html?ref=opinion

We can not be free and independent like we are told we are, unless we become responsible for our own necessities, rather than working just to pay someone else to do it for us.

Im sorry I am so enthusiastic about this subject. I just finished my electrical apprenticeship and see great opportunity in this field, so long that big business doesnt come in and take it over. We need to bring back the “land of opportunity” and give small businesses more of a shot rather than just accepting that we will have plenty of work, because all of the money made, will continue to go to a few people.

btko's avatar

I wish we had an Al Gore in Canada.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

No worries, I understand its not an attack. I welcome your response, its quite engaging. I actually hold a very similar view, but the problem is that I’m a realist, and aim to solve the largest problem at hand (climate change, energy dependence) as quickly as possible. The way I see it, this is a very large problem. How do small businesses have the capacity to solve such a large problem without collaborating and probably merging into another big business? The answer there may be large government intervention by way of incentives, subsidies, tax credits for alt energy use, etc for these small businesses, but I doubt you’d support that either (would you?) Myself, I certainly support a small federal government, but to solve climate change etc, we will need strong government intervention and leadership because the problem is so vast. It’s also a free market, and if these companies want to join and get bigger because it will bring efficiency up and prices down, then we can’t stop them.

At the same time, you’ve convinced me to question my belief in how to solve the problem, because it is direct contradiction with one of my main principles, which can summed easily a favorite quote of mine by Ben Franklin: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both”

And don’t apologize for enthusiasm :) I have more questions but I’ll wait.

Dog's avatar

@8lightminutesaway I actually emailed Ed and he sent me the link to the fellow that created his battery backup generator in California. I will search my old laptop to see if I have it on there as it is not on this computer. When I contacted them they were considering how to mass- produce the generators. Hopefully they have by now and I can get one.
My goal is to make my entire art studio human powered.

After that my goal is to make the kids PlayStation require exercise to run.

insomni's avatar

It’s pretty ironic that Gore and his fans complain about oil prices and dependence on Middle Eastern oil when they cut off any attempts to drill for the stuff in North America. There are oil-rich parts of the U.S. but new drilling is extremely limited due to NIMBY environmental concerns. Concerns that often fall apart when you look at them closely.

I don’t think Gore’s challenge is feasible. The amount of real estate necessary to create large wind and solar farms (not to mention the equipment) capable of producing that much electricity would be astronomical — nowhere near paying for themselves. And just wait until people hear you’re going to be cluttering their view with those things (see the oft-cited opposition by Sen. Ted Kennedy and other wealthy & powerful people to wind farms in Cape Cod).

I’m all for reducing or eliminating dependence on oil from the ME and would love to have a hydrogen-powered car. But if you want true independence and less environmental impact, then we should go nuclear. Yes, that’s on a conservative site, but give the article a read before writing it off. Interesting stuff!

btko's avatar

@insomni: And what is your solution for nuclear waste? Bury it for the people of the future to deal with?

Indy318's avatar

insomni I agree such a project would not be plausible because its simply not practical. Solar panels, wind mills, and nuclear plants are very expensive and had to maintain. We need to first figure out how to cheaply produce solar panels so that the majority of people can have them in their homes. Nuclear power is very clean and plentiful but potentially the most dangerous. Where will the nuclear waste be diposed? We should look into fusion powered plants rather than the fission ones we use today. Fusion reaction release far more energy and can supply us a enough energy to become oil and gas independent. I agree that something needs to be done about excessive polution produced by us humans. First, we need to change our irresponsible and excessive lifestyle and think about the future of our planet instead of just wording about the present.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

insomni, the idea is to also address the overuse of carbon based fuels, not just middle eastern oil dependence. While I agree, nuclear should be expanded, and it is extremely efficient (~95% now I think?) there are a couple problems. I spoke to a couple nuclear experts in person, one who works at a plant, they said that we should definitely expand nuclear because we already have the technology and it is proven, we don’t have the capacity to do so. There is a huge initial investment for companies, and it takes about 10 years from the companies decision to build a nuclear power plant to the day its running, half of which is typically dealing with legal stuff. Also, while I was surprised to find that a typical plant only produces 20 cubic yards of waste per year if you expand nuclear its still going to be a large problem. Where do you put it? I also heard the supply of uranium is going down or getting harder to find… not sure if that is true. Nuclear is part of the solution but not all of it. Its actually pretty safe too.

And really, many say wind farms and such would block their view but come on, what you rather see a plume of smoke stretching for miles from coal plants or wind turbines turning in the distance? Yes it takes a large amount of real estate and equipment (though everything needs a lot of equipment…) the difference here is that the US definitely has the manufacturing capability to produce all of the parts for wind turbines, and we stand to do very well in such a market, definitely helping the economy. Solar too, but it looks like Germany is taking some of that over. But in turn we sell that equipment overseas too and help pay our huge debt off while producing renewable, clean, almost free energy.

Indy318, wind mills and nuclear are not expensive to maintain. Nuclear is one of the most profitable ways to produce electricity, its very cheap, its just that it takes so long to get running. a wind turbine can be put up in a couple days, and I’m pretty sure they’re low maintenance but I don’t have a source for that. Residential solar is low maintenance too unless there is a tornado/tidal wave/alien attack. I think they last about 30 years now. Solar plants I’m not as sure about, I think you may be right on maintenance cost for them, but many have already been built and they’re up and running. I think after a few more years of research, testing, and actual implementation the costs would definitely go down. They’ve been going down for years and years.
Also, fusion is very attractive, but it is still about 50 – 100 years away from actually being used for power, if they get it stable and workable. They’re building a plant in france right now, I think they another 30 years before they turn it on, and then 20 years of testing or something. But theres always delays with this sort of thing. Also, fuel is a concern for fusion plants, its expensive and hard to get.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

I know I have a different view point than most, so i look at things a lil differently. Im not too sure what to make of climate change. I know that through emissions we are killing our planet. I also know that we need to be energy independent. I have learned alot about the media and propaganda lately, and see that when it is used against people, it creates fear and panic. It always seems that the media tell us what the problem is and then gives us the solution. They act like we have options, but tomorrow when the media says something is this way, who are we to question it.
We should not jump to solutions, without identifying the problem. If we act irrationally and give our “new” source of energy to big business, what makes you think we will every get that back? The same with healthcare. The problem isnt that people dont have healthcare, the problem is that HMOs and big pharma have taken it over. Whats our solution, let the govt control it. The problem isnt that gas prices are high, the problem is our dollar is devalued.
As far as govt incentives go, my state is one of the best for it, but I feel that when the govt takes on a responsibility like that, there is no incentive for prices to go down, since the govt will take care of the rest. Plus, they seem to screw everything up all the time, so no thanks.

In a free market, we can stop big business. Efficiency goes up and prices go down… at first, until they get a stronghold on it, then they can charge whatever they want again and it doesnt matter. We are at their control. But… we can stop them, by being discipline and not buying their product or service, but unfortunately, most of us think short term pleasure rather than long term goals.

btko's avatar

Thinking about the sources of emissions: only 21% of global emissions is from power generation. A big chunk certainly, but certainly not the answer if you consider that if the entire planet switched to nuclear we would have roughly 10 years of extractable uranium left. (I forget right now where I read that… i’ll find a source).

Regardless of what we switch to as a world we are still going to have to cut consumption massively. This will be the biggest challenge.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@btko, 21% is huge. There is no source the contributes say 50% of emmisions to the atmosphere, its a bunch of things together. We have to stop each one, and power generation is one of the, if not the largest producer of emissions and is growing very fast. The equivalent of a coal plant goes up weekly in china. And yes if the entire planet switched to nuclear we would probably only have 10 years of uranium left. But that’s a very skewed statistic, because it is nearly impossible to get the whole world to do that, we don’t have the capacity, let alone for half the world to switch. Its just not going to happen. (read my post above about nuclear) The answer is a combination of sources, not just nuclear. We move forward with residential solar electricity/water heating, solar power plants, wind turbines, tidal turbines, geothermal, biofuels, passive solar design in new buildings, nuclear, etc.
And yes, we have to cut consumption hardcore because we are consuming way too much already, and the population is growing.

btko's avatar

Good point, (“Great Answer”). I’m still really leery of nuclear power generation. Out of all of your solutions that’s the only point I disagree on.

btko's avatar

I get some login screen.. :\

finkelitis's avatar

you should be able to watch an ad and get through it. You could try just going to http://salon.com first.

winblowzxp's avatar

Let’s look to Europe on this one, since we love looking there. Particulary France. They are totally on nuclear, what they’re doing with waste, I don’t know.

I agree that we should get off of the nipple of foreign oil. We need to expidite our own oil resources and put that into our economy first and foremost. I would favor R&D on alternatives, but I can also see that that could take at least 30 years, at least for it to become cheap enough to replace the oil standard.

I have problems with hydrogen fuel cell cars…they’re quite dangerous. Depending on the size of the fuel cells, an accident could take out half a city block, as when hydrogen and oxygen meet, they combust. Electric cars are fine, at least temporarily. I’d hate to pay upwards of $25k to buy one of those little buggars and then just like my laptop, the battery stops charging and then I have a useless piece of machinery in my garage. I would support technology which can burn in a standard IC engine and not ruin it like ethanol does.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

@btko: you can have him.

critter1982's avatar

I find Al Gore to be incredibly hypocritical.
Al Gore

With that said, I don’t see any way to accomplish this in 10 years. The immediate cost to homeowners alone to incorporate these renewable energy sources is incredibly high. Second, there aren’t enough companies capable of installing these systems over a ten year period.

Rock2's avatar

I challenge our nation to commit to ignoring 100% of Al Gore’s idiocy forever within ten minutes

can we do it? i think so.

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