Sunday, November 09, 2008
Gore: "The nation needs to build 'an electronet,' a unified national smart grid"
And since it’s Al Gore, you know that purpose has got to be green.
“The purpose, I would urge all of you — as many of you as are willing to take it up — is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our planet and the imminent danger and opportunity we face because of the radical transformation in the relationship between human beings and the Earth,” Mr. Gore said Friday evening at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
In other words, Web 2.0 should be used to fight global warming. He didn’t say exactly how, but that didn’t stop the audience from giving two standing ovations to the Oscar-winning movie director, venture capitalist, money manager, book author, cable television mogul and Nobel laureate.
Mr. Gore said that he feared that his advocacy work, spearheaded by his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has not done its job. “I feel, in a sense, I’ve failed badly,” he said. “Because even though there’s a greater sense of awareness, there is not anything anywhere close to an appropriate sense of urgency. This is an existential threat.”
Mr. Gore called on President-elect Barack Obama to set a national goal of getting 100 percent of America’s electricity from renewable and non-carbon sources within a decade.
John F. Kennedy’s declaration that the nation would land a man on the moon in ten years was thought to be impossible, but was achieved eight years later. The engineers who made it possible were an average age of 18 when President Kennedy issued the challenge, Mr. Gore said. “We need exactly that all over this country,” dedicated to reversing climate change, he said.
Mr. Obama has pledged to spend $150 billion over the next ten years in clean energy. That is not enough, Mr. Gore said.
The nation needs to build “an electronet,” a unified national smart grid, with high-voltage, low-loss underground wires that deliver renewable energy from the places that produce it — like the sunny Arizona deserts or the windy Dakota plains — to the cities where the majority of it is used. Such a grid would require a $400 billion investment upfront, but would pay off in just over three years, he said, because the nation spends $120 billion annually on costs from power outages blamed on the existing grid.
In addition, the United States needs a national retrofit program to insulate homes and install new windows and light bulbs.
Forty percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere comes from buildings, he said. Making these changes would not only save homeowners money but create 10 million new jobs, he said.
The Internet — specifically, the “cloud” where information is stored — also has a role to play, Mr. Gore said. “We have to have the truth — the inconvenient truth, forgive me — stored in the cloud so that people don’t have to rely on that process, and so we can respond to it collectively.”