To the moon

Posted

Saturday, July 19
Once again, Al Gore is showing us why he won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election. He is saying what ex-oil man George W. Bush will never say (well, we can't imagine that happening) about the dire need for alternative fuel sources.

Mr. Gore, the former vice president, this week urged a "man to the moon" style effort to shift all U.S. electricity production to wind, solar and other carbon-free sources within 10 years. The dramatic change, he said, would reduce the threat of global warming and curb our dangerous reliance on foreign oil, which threatens both our economy and national security.

This, of course, is the bold initiative the president should have launched at the beginning of the decade, but perhaps it is not too late for the next president to act. There is a good chance a President Obama will heed the call for an all-out effort many people see as essential for the survival of the human race, never mind the United States.

Mr. Gore did not paint a rose-colored picture but freely admitted the hard work and hard currency involved in such a major shift of priorities. In 2005, coal generation supplied about half the 3.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity we used, nuclear power 21 percent and natural gas 15 percent.

Renewable sources like wind and solar produced 8.6 percent.

We would argue that the amount supplied by nuclear power, which doesn't contribute to global warming or the coffers of the oil-producing nations, should be retained. And that new plants be built to replace existing antiques like Vermont Yankee on the same sites.

But instead of the insanity of off-shore drilling, we should look to off-shore wind farms, and to both massive solar facilities in sparsely populated, low-lying areas where screening is not a problem — and to smaller units on individual homes and businesses.

This all should be done with direct help from the government, which, if it had the will, could change a dire situation almost overnight just by demonstrating that will.

Mr. Gore asked Americans to undertake a decade-long crusade. The next question to ask is whether we are still the same nation that had what it took to go to the moon — and back.

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