The hot rumor at the moment is that Al Gore is going to appear at Netroots Nation immediately following Nancy Pelosi’s Q&A session (which is going on right now). We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: There he is!

Let’s blog along, shall we?

He loves the netroots — informed citizenry, etc. etc.

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North pole melting — 75-80 percent chance that the entire polar ice cap will be melted and gone within five years. How can we absorb the meaning of an event of that magnitude?

If we keep procrastinating, fail to take up our generation’s challenge, the ice will never come back.

Climate crisis connected to economic crisis and national security crisis. Foreign oil; rising prices; older industries premised on cheap fossil fuels being devastated. China’s demand swamping new discoveries. The idea that we can drill our way out of this is absurd. Reminds me of the old saying: hair of the dog that bit you. If you’re in a hole, stop digging!

Cheapest, fastest way to reduce emissions is through electricity (transportation will take longer). Need a unified national grid with high-voltage transmission. 100% of electricity from renewable sources within 10 years! We can do it.

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Defenders of status quo are the ones who got us in this mess. Ridiculous to open a few more areas for drilling to produce oil in 10 years that will be sold to China. Makes about as much sense as responding to an attack from Afghanistan by invading some other country.

Just mentioned CCS.

“Engines of distraction” say it’s unrealistic — more realistic to sleep walk off the cliff. We can shift public opinion. [Stumps for Alliance for Climate Protection — says it’s bipartisan. Stumps for We campaign. Trying to raise a million activists.]

We need your help. You won’t see this organization get partisan, you won’t see it change its mission. You won’t see it give up or slow down. In it for the long haul.

You are on the cutting edge of a new era of history. You will look back some day and tell your grandchildren you were here. Thank you.

[This crowd loves them some Al!]

Doing Q&A.

Would you take a position in an Obama administration?

I don’t think that’s the best thing for me to do. The highest and best use of whatever experience I’ve had is to expand the political space within which elected officials address this crisis. We need a sea change in public opinion across party lines to support the huge changes we need.

Doesn’t meat cause tons of global warming pollution?

Meat intensity increasing in China and other developing countries. It is true that it would be healthier for us as individuals and as a planet if we eat less meat. Part of the question is, why hasn’t that been a more prominent part of the effort? I plead guilty to thinking we can only do so much at once. Also I’m a meat eater and that plays a part. But it is a significant part of what needs to be done.

Q: Mountaintop mining.

Mountaintop mining is an atrocity. It’s part and parcel of the energy system that’s causing global warming and the same moral blindness.

We should guarantee a good job for every miner affected by the transition.

Using coal to make liquid fuel is “insane.” If you only care about independence, you could do it at great cost. But we’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time — energy independence and climate change. Not just domestic fuel, but renewable energy.

Pelosi: I love Gore. He’s giving us a path to the future. He helped on telecom too (big applause).

Pelosi: President saying drill drill drill as excuse for failed energy policy. It won’t do anything to help. To oil companies: use it or lose it. Drilling has no relation to price today. Don’t drill Arctic Refuge. Drill where you already have leases. They’re looking for an excuse, not a reason. President says drilling will lower costs — I tell my colleagues not to give him any validation on that. It’s a bill of goods. “We want to increase supply … we want to reduce prices at the pump.” [Sigh.] Release oil from strategic reserve — 10 days rather than 10 years. “Free our oil.” [Sigh.] And end speculation. [Sigh.]

Gore: wind power is competitive today. Combination of wind, solar, and geothermal important because of intermittency. Concentrating solar can help solve that, as can geothermal. When we make an all out commitment and do all these things, these problems subside.

[Here’s audio of Gore’s speech (mp3).]

Will Pelosi accept the challenge?

Pelosi: It is absolutely possible. [This is the most significant thing to come out of their joint appearance, IMO.] No one thought House could pass RPS, but it cleared by 40 votes. Senate’s the problem.

Q: What about storage?

Gore: Wonky stuff about batteries, mentions other forms (molten salt, etc.).

Q: What about Buckminster Fuller’s idea of putting windmills on existing buildings? [cuckoo !]

Gore: Uh … that would be expensive. But wind farms are competitive now. The economics of renewables are increasingly attractive.

Q: Nuclear?

Gore: usual spiel.

All in all, a dramatic appearance, which seemed to put Pelosi on record in support of a wildly ambitious energy goal. Kate and I asked Pelosi about it afterward — we’ll put that video up today or tomorrow.

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