Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gore appears on Meet the Press to advance his renewable energy plan

This morning (Sunday July 20, 2008) former Vice President Al Gore appeared on NBC’s "Meet the Press", and was interviewed by Tom Brokaw.

Gore (who narrated the film "An Inconvenient Truth" about global warming) reiterated his call to get American on renewable energy sources for its electric power grid by 2018. He claims that this will take a commitment similar in scale to winning World War II, and he referred to Brokaw’s own book “The Greatest Generation.”

Brokaw asked him about the Pickens Plan (referring to a project of T. Boone Pickens that now is building windmills in west Texas). Gore disagreed with an intermediate step of encouraging the manufacture of motor vehicles that run on natural gas. He said we should go through the infrastructure transition only once and convert cars to electric. Pickens is right in that we have transferred $700 million to potentially hostile foreign countries.

The transition to renewable power will cost 1.5 to 3 trillion dollars. That’s about $10000 per American, spread out over ten years. But he says without the transition the costs will be even greater, in continued economic and perhaps military disruptions, as well as the bill for imported oil itself.

Gore pointed out that silicon semi-conductor chips came down in price about 50% every 18 months during the personal computer and Internet revolution of the 80s and 90s. (No, Al Gore doesn’t claim that he invented the Internet!) He claims that the materials for solar conductors will come down in price as technology improves. However, some other groups (such as the producers of “End of Suburbia”) have challenged these claims.

Gore was quizzed about his own lifestyle and his own 10000 sq ft. house in Tennessee. Will you “walk the walk” and “practice what you preach”, Brokaw asked. He says it is entirely green and uses solar conductors and that he has very small natural gas bills. He admitted that he sometimes uses a private jet, but his next airplane trip would be on Southwest Airlines (which had negotiated a “separate peace” on fuel prices).

Gore denied that he wanted a job in a new administration, or even a place on the ticket as a Vice-President. There was even a hint from Brokaw that John McCain could ask him to switch parties. Gore did consider Hillary Clinton’s call for gas tax holiday as window dressing. He says “I was elected in 2000 but did not serve.”

Silicone Valley companies have recently warned that America must get serious about maintaining its power grid infrastructure and using renewable sources, since the Internet is so dependent on power for its huge server farms.

Picture: Did this "Wilson" come from the movie "Cast Away"? A warning of a survivalist future?

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