Ask what you can do for your country

9 11 2008

american_flag_2Al Gore, founder of The Alliance for Climate Protection, in today’s Op Ed piece in the New York Times outlines a 5-part plan to “repower America with a commitment to producing 100% of our electricity from carbon-free sources in 10 years”. This will help the United States achieve energy independence, offset the economic crisis as well as create millions of “green jobs” that can’t be outsourced.

Four of the five parts of the plan can only be accomplished by forward thinking governments, utilities or car companies:

  1. Large scale investment for concentrated solar thermal plants, wind farms and geothermal plants that will generate large amounts of clean energy.
  2. Build a unified national smart grid (read Tom Friedman’s Hot Flat and Crowded if you want to get weepingly excited about this)
  3. Help America’s big and small auto companies rapidly convert to plug-in hybrids which can be charged at night during off-peak energy-use hours and then contribute the power back to the grid during peak hours.
  4. (see below)
  5. Institute a carbon tax, lead the way to an upgrade of the Kyoto Treaty and work with other nations to reduce deforestation (read Jared Diamond’s Collapse if you want to get weepingly terrified about this.)

Now for #4:

Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting. Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from buildings — and stopping that pollution saves money for homeowners and businesses. This initiative should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.

There is no easy solution to the mess we’re in environmentally or economically but for a start, this is one smart strategy all citizens can do for their country.

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