Liberals love Gore’s gall. Conservatives hate that he drove a gas-guzzler to the big speech. Politicians grumble over his timing. Climate policy wonks and science geeks admire the inititive, but want something a little more … feasible … say, 50 to 90 percent renewable electricity by 2020 with a little natural gas for good measure?
Across the blogosphere, however, certain questions about Gore’s plan remain unanswered. What practical measures will we take to get to zero emission electricity in 10 years? Who will lead the charge? From where will the requisite funds come to finance this energy operation? Will Tom Brokaw grill Gore on “Meet the Press” this Sunday? Or will the Goracle leave the details to those in the political trenches and dodge the pragmatic bullet?
The remaining voices:
E.J.Dionne and Michael Gerson of the Washington Post both offered their takes on Gore’s plan this morning. Dionne, the can-do liberal, immediately chimed in on behalf of Gore’s plan:
It sounds like a typical, idealistic Al Gore idea. But two things about this proposal merit attention. It points a country that uses too much energy down the right path.
Dionne extrapolated Gore’s vision to a twist on how Congressional Democrats should battle the political bad will of everclimbing gas prices:
Gore is showing that being environmentally responsible is economically sensible.
Democrats should be concerned about where they are on the gas-price issue right now, and the party’s own strategists are worried that its response so far is inadequate.
Gerson approached Gore’s speech merely tangentially in this morning’s Od-Ed (he began with a riff on … ahem, polar bears); however, he offered a key observation regarding the political will for consensus building around Gore’s plan:
Some Republicans and conservatives are prone to an ideologically motivated skepticism. On AM talk radio, where scientific standards are not particularly high, the attitude seems to be: “If Al Gore is upset about carbon, we must need more of it.” Gore’s partisan, conspiratorial anger is annoying, yet not particularly relevant to the science of this issue.
This points, however, to a broader problem. Any legislation ambitious enough to cut carbon emissions significantly and encourage new energy technologies will require a broad political and social consensus.
Regardless of the hordes of JFK-moon race analogies floating around the environmental blogosphere, Gore is still a polemic figure to many right-wingers. As Gerson indicates, the political will is going to have to be huge to overcome the Gore backlash from the hyped up speech. How will our elected officials handle that?
I’m an EcoGeek, possibly the biggest EcoGeek you know. So I’m optimistic about these things. I know that there are a lot of technologies out there that, if they spring forth from the lab and into widespread use, could make colossal differences in the way we produce power.
But this is a big pill .. .like, football-sized. The lifespan of a coal-fired power plant is between 30 and 50 years. Power companies build these things with those 30 to 50 years in mind. They aren’t going to dismantle them when they’re 15 years old without some gigantic form of compensation.
Green’s right. There are a lot vested interests already in play that potentially could be offered incentives to move towards clean electricity generation. But that will require a lot of investment, federal or otherwise, with the political will greasing the way. Green ends on a cautiously optimistic note:
… the 10-year deadline seems a little insane. Gore’s insistence on it’s practicality is somewhat puzzling to me. But I certainly don’t mind crazy goals. We spend a heck of a lot of money in this country. It’d be nice to spend it on an effort to strengthen the country at the core…rather than weaken itself by over-extension in an attempt to lock up the last little pockets of oil on the planet.
CNET wore its shock on its sleeve with Neal Dikeman’s piece, “Is Al Gore Nuts?” Perhaps so — that may not be such a bad thing — but Dikeman does address the valid point that a goal too ambitious is likely to be forgotten:
That statement is about like challenging your 2 year old to finish college by the time she is 12. Not exactly practical, more than a little crazy, and likely to be either ignored, or if you push it, to cause lots of therapy sessions by the time she is 8.
A bar too high will set up an inevitable failure. But, is a failure of say 70 percent renewable electricity by 2020 all that bad? It’s much more aggressive than the G8’s half-off reduction.
What remains to be seen is how Gore will elaborate on his lofty goals on “Meet the Press.” He will have an hour to articulate the steps, the attack plan, the guts behind the vision that will allow us to proceed towards a carbon neutral future.