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News item: The Climate for Change as per Al Gore

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4 comments, last: Jan-28-2009   Add a comment   Contributor:  TheTeam (Nov-13-2008)    Play a Video
Optimism: 3 Categories: Economic/Financial, Global Warming, Philosophical & Quality of Life, Political, Pollution

By Al Gore, published November 9, 2008

THE inspiring and transformative choice by the American people to elect Barack Obama as our 44th president lays the foundation for another fateful choice that he — and we — must make this January to begin an emergency rescue of human civilization from the imminent and rapidly growing threat posed by the climate crisis.

The electrifying redemption of America's revolutionary declaration that all human beings are born equal sets the stage for the renewal of United States leadership in a world that desperately needs to protect its primary endowment: the integrity and livability of the planet.

The world authority on the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after 20 years of detailed study and four unanimous reports, now says that the evidence is "unequivocal." To those who are still tempted to dismiss the increasingly urgent alarms from scientists around the world, ignore the melting of the north polar ice cap and all of the other apocalyptic warnings from the planet itself, and who roll their eyes at the very mention of this existential threat to the future of the human species, please wake up. Our children and grandchildren need you to hear and recognize the truth of our situation, before it is too late.

Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.

Economists across the spectrum — including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers — agree that large and rapid investments in a jobs-intensive infrastructure initiative is the best way to revive our economy in a quick and sustainable way. Many also agree that our economy will fall behind if we continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign oil every year. Moreover, national security experts in both parties agree that we face a dangerous strategic vulnerability if the world suddenly loses access to Middle Eastern oil.

As Abraham Lincoln said during America's darkest hour, "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew." In our present case, thinking anew requires discarding an outdated and fatally flawed definition of the problem we face.

Thirty-five years ago this past week, President Richard Nixon created Project Independence, which set a national goal that, within seven years, the United States would develop "the potential to meet our own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy sources." His statement came three weeks after the Arab oil embargo had sent prices skyrocketing and woke America to the dangers of dependence on foreign oil. And — not coincidentally — it came only three years after United States domestic oil production had peaked.

At the time, the United States imported less than a third of its oil from foreign countries. Yet today, after all six of the presidents succeeding Nixon repeated some version of his goal, our dependence has doubled from one-third to nearly two-thirds — and many feel that global oil production is at or near its peak.

Some still see this as a problem of domestic production. If we could only increase oil and coal production at home, they argue, then we wouldn't have to rely on imports from the Middle East. Some have come up with even dirtier and more expensive new ways to extract the same old fuels, like coal liquids, oil shale, tar sands and "clean coal" technology.

But in every case, the resources in question are much too expensive or polluting, or, in the case of "clean coal," too imaginary to make a difference in protecting either our national security or the global climate. Indeed, those who spend hundreds of millions promoting "clean coal" technology consistently omit the fact that there is little investment and not a single large-scale demonstration project in the United States for capturing and safely burying all of this pollution. If the coal industry can make good on this promise, then I'm all for it. But until that day comes, we simply cannot any longer base the strategy for human survival on a cynical and self-interested illusion.

Source: Al Gore open letter, Nov-9-2008  
Related reading:
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Comment by: emsmusings (Jan-28-2009)   
Further thought - the three prong attack yes I like that - but human beings elect governments and government members are human beings and should have morals and ethics - hence the people have to change - similarly with businesses - again they are run by us - and again we need to develop more ethics, morals, spirituality, and overcome the financially /profit driven mindset in many corporations. It seems some people live two different lives - one in church (perhaps) on Sunday or in some other spiritual practice such as Tai Chi (yes I do as well, with yoga) and then a weekday life that is driven by greed, consumerism, etc.
Have you seen for almost vitriolic in places anti al gore diatribe? Who wins in terms of sheer numbers in America, the anti Gore camp or the dreamer awakening team? Do we have any numbers? I am exploring the role of the shaman or Wounded Healer in saving our crazy world from self destruction - please tell me that the mindless Fox news rantings are not representative of US citizenship!
Comment by: emsmusings (Jan-27-2009)   

thankyou so much for introducing me to those two initiatives that I shall follow up - so relevant!
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Jan-27-2009)   Web site

You ask a good question, and a question that many people have asked. It appears that a combination of government action, personal action, and personal self-reinvention are needed. Individuals can do everything from changing their lightbulbs to compact fluorescent (or LED), driving much less, and insulating their homes well while controlling thermostats, to taking steps of personal growth such as meditation, Tai Chi Chuan, reduction of consumerist behaviors and thinking, and so on.

There will still be a part that government needs to do -- including re-allocation of the cost of production and cleanup to oil and to plastics so those will be a smaller part of the economy, build out a new electric grid and renewable sources of electricity, and migrate transportation to renewable energy, most likely electric as well. Massive incentives and regulation are the responsibility of government, as business will respond too late in some cases, and never in other cases. I am not against business, but they are often not as aware of or focused on the greater public good as we need them to be for the best outcomes.

You might want to check some initiatives featured here in the past such as Awakening the Dreamer and the Transition movement. There are also many groups forming at the local level to encourage local agriculture and food, new forms of energy generation, etc.

Personally, I study Tai Chi Chuan and have a background in meditating as well -- we will all need good, stable minds to face some of the challenges that appear to be on the way.
Comment by: emsmusings (Jan-27-2009)   

I am most interested in this article but dismayed it has prompted no comments? I feel strongly that to solve our planet's problems we have to change - indeed heal - our own behaviour - return to ancient wisdoms and spiritual values, live more simply, less extravagantly, not rely only on Govt interventions. What are you proposing for the individual to do in this oil and energy scenario?

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