I’ve just now gotten around to closely reading Gore’s speech, and felt the usual mix of admiration and sorrow at what could have been. Three bits jumped out at me that I haven’t highlighted yet.
First, a little hometown pride:
Many individuals and businesses have decided to take an approach known as "Zero Carbon." They are reducing their CO2 as much as possible and then offsetting the rest with reductions elsewhere including by the planting of trees. At least one entire community — Ballard, a city of 18,000 people in Washington State — is embarking on a goal of making the entire community zero carbon.
Ballard in effect! Wo0t!
Second, a little wonkiness:
Today … We worry today that terrorists might try to inflict great damage on America’s energy infrastructure by attacking a single vulnerable part of the oil distribution or electricity distribution network. So, taking a page from the early pioneers of ARPANET, we should develop a distributed electricity and liquid fuels distribution network that is less dependent on large coal-fired generating plants and vulnerable oil ports and refineries.
Small windmills and photovoltaic solar cells distributed widely throughout the electricity grid would sharply reduce CO2 emissions and at the same time increase our energy security. Likewise, widely dispersed ethanol and biodiesel production facilities would shift our transportation fuel stocks to renewable forms of energy while making us less dependent on and vulnerable to disruptions in the supply of expensive crude oil …. It would also make us less vulnerable to the impact of a category 5 hurricane hitting coastal refineries or to a terrorist attack on ports or key parts of our current energy infrastructure.
Just as a robust information economy was triggered by the introduction of the Internet, a dynamic new renewable energy economy can be stimulated by the development of an "electranet," or smart grid, that allows individual homeowners and business-owners anywhere in America to use their own renewable sources of energy to sell electricity into the grid when they have a surplus and purchase it from the grid when they don’t. The same electranet could give homeowners and business-owners accurate and powerful tools with which to precisely measure how much energy they are using where and when, and identify opportunities for eliminating unnecessary costs and wasteful usage patterns.
Of the many solutions available to our energy woes, this one — the smart grid hooking up distributed small-scale sources — is the one that most gets my intellectual juices flowing. So much there to chew over.
And finally, this is one aspect of the global warming/peak oil problematic that just doesn’t get discussed enough:
[The climate crisis] gives us an opportunity to experience something that few generations ever have the privilege of knowing: a common moral purpose compelling enough to lift us above our limitations and motivate us to set aside some of the bickering to which we as human beings are naturally vulnerable. … In rising to meet this challenge, we too will find self-renewal and transcendence and a new capacity for vision to see other crises in our time that cry out for solutions … by rising to meet the climate crisis, we will find the vision and moral authority to see them not as political problems but as moral imperatives.
There is great value and great succor in coming together around a common purpose. It is a self-reinforcing, virtuous cycle. The toxic fucktards in Washington today do not and will never understand that, despite their rhetoric.
We need to recapture that spirit, recapture the belief that we can be good, that we can come together and achieve great things. That fire is down to embers, but I don’t think it’s out.