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Al Gore/Google/NRDC Choose Electricity & Plug-Ins: Videos & Quotes

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  • Felix Kramer
    On November 9, when we posted Gore/Alliance for Climate Protection: All-In for Plug-Ins, http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1022.html we thought with the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24, 2008
      On November 9, when we posted "Gore/Alliance for
      Climate Protection: All-In for Plug-Ins,"
      http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1022.html we
      thought with the appearance of plug-ins as a
      central component of the "Repower America"
      campaign, and strong endorsements by Al Gore in
      the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times, we said
      we'd finally gotten buy-in from global warming
      advocates. But that may turn out to be just the
      beginning. On Sunday Al Gore continued by
      responding to a question about what to do about
      the auto industry with even more unequivocal
      comments on plug-in hybrids and using batteries
      to store intermittent renewable energy. And later
      on, he may have become the most prominent person
      to compare "clean coal" to always-promising
      hydrogen. His most powerful comment: " We cannot
      allow an illusion to be the basis of a strategy
      for human survival." We include much of the
      transcript. And we follow that with substantial
      excerpts from a recent Google/NRDC talk where
      people involved closely with the transition team
      talk about energy and plug-in policies.

      (Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting
      will also be viewable at
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html -- there
      you can add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)


      SEE GORE VIDEO OR READ TRANSCRIPT BELOW: on
      journalist Fareed Zakaria's TV interview show,
      "GPS,"
      http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/fareed.zakaria.gps
      . You can watch the two-part video at
      http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2008/11/24/fz.al.gore.1.cnn
      and
      http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2008/11/24/fz.al.gore.2.cnn
      -- or if that's not available at Youtube at
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKuozM9d1P8 Part
      II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5kff-wDHEg . And
      this show is savvy enough to produce a transcript
      for those who'd rather scan it quickly and
      forward to others. Find that at
      http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0811/23/fzgps.01.html
      We've added timings to the comments, and we
      include most of the remaining interview after the
      comments on coal, because what he says about
      China and India is so important -- and because he
      ends with advice to Obama to "make more of the
      thoughtful, long, expository speeches, because in
      this new media age, people are listening


      ZAKARIA (04:35): Let me ask you about what's
      going on in Washington right now. You're watching
      the auto industry ask for a massive bailout. This
      must tug at different sides of you. I mean, as a
      Democrat, you must have some sympathy for the
      unions, and for the plight of people who are
      going to be laid off. On the other hand, as the
      world's foremost environmentalist, you must look
      at the U.S. auto industry as having been too late
      and insufficient in its climate -- in its efforts
      on energy. Would you bail out the auto industry?

      GORE (05:07): Well, I think the whole industry
      should be transformed. It's really tragic that
      General Motors, for example, allowed Toyota to
      get a seven-year head start on the hybrid drive
      train in the Prius that is now positioned to
      really be a dominant feature of the industry in this century.

      I personally believe that the U.S. auto fleet
      should make a transition as quickly as possible
      toward plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. I think
      that the twin problems of the climate crisis and
      the economic crisis can both be addressed by
      investing in a transformation of our energy and
      transportation infrastructure to focus on renewable sources of energy.

      And at the same time, our security vulnerability
      to a potential cutoff of the world's access to
      Persian Gulf, Middle East oil should be
      addressed, at long last, without delay. And
      shifting to electric vehicles instead of
      petroleum vehicles is the best way to do that.

      ZAKARIA (06:25): If you look at the situation
      right now with oil prices down to $50 a barrel --
      the lowest in two or three years -- are we back
      to a familiar cycle where once the price of oil
      gets back down, the impetus for these alternate energies will dissipate?

      GORE (06:43): Well, I don't think we're going to
      fall for it this time. And I was very impressed
      with the language used by President- elect Barack
      Obama in his "60 Minutes" interview. He used a
      phrase that I hadn't heard before, that I think summed it up really well.

      (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA:
      We go from shock to trance. You know, we -- oil
      prices go up, gas prices at the pump go up,
      everybody goes into a flurry of activity. And
      then the prices go back down, and suddenly we act
      like it's not important, and we start filling up
      our SUVs again. And as a consequence, we never make any progress.

      GORE: We cannot allow ourselves to be vulnerable
      to that anymore. We should learn from history.

      ZAKARIA 00:05 One of the solutions to the problem
      of climate change and the problem of CO2
      emissions has often been presented as "clean
      coal" -- that what we shouldd be doing is
      essentially making coal emit much less CO2
      through various wasy of capture and
      sequestration. But in a Wall Street Journal
      article, you seemed doubtful. You don't think this is a good idea?

      GORE 00:027: Well, I think if they can do it, it
      is a good idea. But what I am greatly concerned
      about is that they talk as if it's already here.
      And as a practical matter, what many in the
      industry are proposing is to go forward with the
      construction of thousands of new coal-fired
      generating plants, on the assumption that they
      will at some point be retrofitted with this
      technology that does not yet exist. There is not
      a single large-scale demonstration plant anywhere
      in the United States. There is one in the North
      Sea that the Norwegians are running, there's one
      in the Algerian desert that BP is running, and
      they show some promise. But it is not anywhere
      near a stage that justifies building new coal
      -fired generating plants on the promise that
      it'll soon be availabale. If the industry can
      make good on its promise, then I'm all for it.

      GORE 1:30 But it's beginning to resmelbe
      something that the auto companies did for
      years....every few years, they would show "the
      cars of the future," that run on hydrogen or
      whatever, and it's gonna be magical and
      pollution-free. And they put them in the
      showroom, but then they never build them. And you
      just keep cranking along. And it's led to a
      disaster for that industry. We cannot allow an
      illusion to be the basis of a strategy for human
      survival. We are really facing a very serioius
      existential threat to to the future of human
      civilization. And I know that language sounds
      shrill and dire,, and people instinctively say
      that can't be so. But it is so. And the
      scientific ommunity, the IPCC, the International
      Panel on Climate [thousands of
      scientists]...three thousand of the very best
      scientists, from 130 countries have studied this
      for 20 years, and have issued four unanimous
      reports, the last of which said the evicence is unequivocal. We have to act.

      ZAKARIA (Part 2 00:05) One of the solutions to
      the problem of climate change and the problem of
      CO2 emissions has often been presented as clean
      coal, that what we should be doing is essentially
      making coal emit many fewer -- you know, much
      less CO2 -- through various ways of capture and
      sequestration. But in a "Wall Street Journal"
      article, you seem doubtful. You don't think this is a good idea?

      GORE (00:27): Well, I think if they can do it, it
      is a good idea. But what I am greatly concerned
      about is that they talk as if it's already here.
      And as a practical matter, what many in the
      industry are proposing is to go forward with the
      construction of thousands of new coal-fired
      generating plants, on the assumption that they
      will at some point be retrofitted with this
      technology that does not yet exist. There is not
      a single, large-scale demonstration plant
      anywhere in the United States. There is one in
      the North Sea that the Norwegians are running.
      There's one in the Algerian desert that BP is
      running. And they show some promise. But it is
      not anywhere near a stage that justifies building
      new coal-fired generating plants on the promise
      that it'll soon be available. If the industry can
      make good on its promise, then I'm all for it.

      (01:30) But it's beginning to resemble something
      that the auto companies did for years. Every few
      years they would show the cars of the future that
      run on hydrogen, or whatever, and it's going to
      be magical and pollution- free. And they put them
      in the showroom, but then they never build them.
      And you just keep cranking along. And it's led to
      a disaster for that industry.

      We cannot allow an illusion to be the basis of a
      strategy for human survival. We are really facing
      a very serious existential threat to the future
      of human civilization. And I know that language
      sounds shrill and dire, and people instinctively
      say that that can't be so. But it is so. And the
      scientific community, the IPCC -- the
      Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ...

      ZAKARIA: Which are thousands of scientists.

      GORE: Three thousand of the very best scientists
      in the world from 130 countries, who have studied
      this for 20 years, and have issued four unanimous
      reports, the last of which said the evidence is
      unequivocal -- unequivocal. We have to act.

      ZAKARIA: One of the key objections that President
      Bush has always had to the Kyoto Protocol, and to
      all that kind of climate change activism, was
      you're leaving out China and India. And if you
      leave out China and India, you're not going to solve the problem.

      GORE: Yes.

      ZAKARIA: You started to work on this issue, to
      try to convince the Chinas and Indias of the
      world that this is their problem, too.

      GORE: Yes. I just came back from China two days
      ago. And as you know, I'm on my way to India
      after the holiday, and looking forward to it.
      China and India, and other developing countries,
      all have exactly the same excuse for not moving
      on the climate crisis. Their common excuse is,
      "Wait a minute. The United States hasn't done
      anything. It's the wealthiest country in the
      world, the natural leader of the world. Why
      doesn't the U.S. act?" And I think that when the
      U.S. acts, it will be by far the most effective
      way to improve the odds that China and India, and
      other smaller developing economies, will also
      act. They know that it's in their own interest to tackle this problem.

      ZAKARIA: What about India? Talk about India,
      where you're going, and what you're going to do.

      GORE: Well, I'm very excited to be hosting Live
      Earth India on December 7th. And all of the
      greatest stars of Bollywood are going to gather
      in your hometown, Mumbai. And a lot of the
      greatest Western artists are coming over to join,
      as well You know, the Indian government now
      subsidizes kerosene -- probably the dirtiest fuel
      you can use. But they need alternatives. And
      these solar lanterns and solar cookers are very
      cost-effective. And we're doing everything to
      raise money for it -- and to build awareness.

      ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about this election,
      finally. If you had one piece of advice to Obama,
      to consolidate these forces of realignment, what
      would it be? How should he govern? From the
      center, from -- you know, you hear all this advice given to him.

      GORE: Well, again, you know, just as with the
      categories that we label Democratic and
      Republican, I think center, left, right -- you
      hear this a lot. It's almost a cliche to say we
      need to move forward, not left or right. But in
      fact, that is the case. And I think he has an
      awfully good, innate sense of that.

      I feel, you know, me offering him advice doesn't
      feel right, because he's doing so well. But if I
      did offer him advice I would say, make more of
      the thoughtful, long, expository speeches,
      because in this new media age, people are
      listening. Maybe they don't get through all of
      the television and radio outlets. Maybe you'll
      still have only a little sound bite. But people
      are downloading these speeches now, if they're
      good ones. You know, it's remarkable that the
      paid advertisement, the 30- minute paid
      advertisement that he had four or five days
      before the election, was one of the highest-rated
      programs of the year. And I think people are now
      hungry for a thoughtful treatment of how we can
      solve the problems that we face. And I would go
      back to that strength. And I'm sure that he will
      without me advising him to do so.



      PERFECT FOLLOW-ON: a counterpart of Gore's
      comments is excerpts from a not-to-be-missed
      recent talk by Google's Eric Schmidt and Dan
      Reicher, accompanied by NRDC's Frances Beinecke
      and Ralph Cavanaugh. NRDC has been increasingly
      vocal on plug-in cars; with Cavanaugh's on-target
      comments about how we can no longer afford "all
      of the above," we're still hoping that it will
      begin to take leadership in educating its members
      and in promoting priority programs in state and federal policies.

      SCHMIDT/REICHER/CAVANAUGH/BEINEKE: The posting
      referred to above, "Gore/Alliance for Climate
      Protection: All-In for Plug-Ins,"
      http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1022.html
      also included links to a speech by Google CEO
      Eric Schmidt. Now we have a new video, "Eric
      Schmidt on Strategies and Solutions for Enegy
      Security"
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRJlO5gdsfk . It's
      a 33-minute talk held recently at Google NYC. .

      This is one of the most inspiring presentations
      we've seen. It offers a window into the thinking
      and plans of several people who are central to
      the next administration's plans for the
      energy/climate components of an economic stimulus
      program that's now expected to be far greater
      than previously thought -- over $500 billion.
      It's been reported that the administration might
      appoint a "climate czar" to coordinate efforts at
      the Energy/Environment/Interior departments. This
      talk reassures us that smart people who are
      thinking about the whole picture have a good
      chance to change the game and spark a rapid
      transition generation and use of renewable energy.

      Schmidt was one of the Transition Advisors on
      stage behind Obama at his first press conference.
      (He has said he's not interested in leaving
      Google.) He was accompanied by Dan Reicher,
      Google.org's director of climate and energy
      initiatives, former Department of Energy
      Assistant Secretary, former NRDC staffer, who has
      been suggested as a possible administration
      appointee. Also speaking was Ralph Cavanaugh,
      co-director of the energy program a the Natural
      Resources Defense Council, and introduced by
      Frances Beinecke, NRDC President. NRDC has many
      people involved in the transition program.

      Here are some excerpts. (We didn't include what
      we now expect (explaining the benefits of plug-in
      cars, but you can see that around 5-10 minutes into the talk.)

      SCHMIDT (13:04): So how do we put up this plan?
      Well, first place, we need some cash. Thank
      goodness, there's a whole bunch of cash about to
      happen. And I'm not talking about the bank
      bailout, I'm talking about the stimulus package.
      And President-Elect Obama has talked about, thank
      goodness, that if you're going to have a stimulus
      package, you might as well invest in roads,
      bridges, schools, broadband, and energy
      efficiency and these kinds of things. Perfect.

      How much money do we need? Oh, a few billion
      dollars. These stimulus packages will be big
      enough that our little corner, the one we're
      working on, is relatively a rounding error
      compared to the scale of the numbers that they're
      talking about. So this is achievable. So that's where the money comes from.

      Intelligent regulation recognizes a couple of
      things. It recognizes first and foremost that
      most of they money is not in the government, it's
      with the public sector. It recognizes that
      incentives need to be designed so that private
      money comes in. Here's an example. What's the
      best stimulus that you can do? Give money to the
      energy efficiency programs that are already in
      place at the state level run by the utilities. In
      our plan we have $10 billion for that. It
      immediately goes to work. What's the best
      insulation program you can do? There's already a
      Low Income Weatheization Program. It's unfunded,
      authorized and in place. How much money do you
      need for advanced R&D? You can't soak up more
      than two or three billion in investments. And
      that money would go to take over plants in places
      like Michigan where there are people who don't
      have any work, where there are sophisticated and high-tech workers.

      15:00 Now I'm a computer scientist. I think about
      the Internet. I look at the electric grid and I
      say, "Why is the electric grid the same as it was
      in the 1960s?" Because nobody cared. Nobody tried
      to build a grid that was flexible, scalable,
      decentralized┬ůSo in the vision of a smart grid,
      here's an example. You guys have all the
      batteries sitting in your cars? What are they
      doing in your garage? Why can they not add to
      peak load when peak load is needed. The utilities
      say that the highest cost of a utility is not
      average load but peak load, which is in the
      afternoons. Right? Plug your car in, draw the
      battery down, charge it up at night. Seems obvious, right? You can't do it.

      (16:08) The other part of it has to do with
      transmission lines, and the lack thereof. So here
      we are private sector, billions of dollars,
      solar and so on, billions of dollars to get it
      working, all those unemployed workers, all the
      suppliers just ready to go, all these people
      buying up desert in New Mexico for cheap,
      thinking that they're going to put their solar
      panel there, and then they discover that they
      can't connect to anything to get it out and so
      the land is worthless? There are proposals now
      for very very sophisticated transmission systems
      throughout the west which are needed for this
      which are currently on a fast track to occur in
      ten years. Okay, we don't have ten years, guys.
      Look at the map of climate change. You want to be
      in a hurry, look at the compounding, look at the math. We don't have time.

      I cannot imagine a better use of everybody's time
      than getting the energy infrastructure of America
      rebuilt. It solves every interesting problem, all
      the things we care about, all the things you care
      about, and it is achievable, and it's the perfect American challenge.

      CAVANAUGH (17:54) What I wanted to say about the
      Google 2030 Clean Energy Plan is that what you've
      just heard is a quite wonderful rebuttal for the
      most common mistake that has characterized
      American energy policy for 30 years, dominated
      the Congress that entire time. It was referred to
      during the recent Presidential campaign as the
      "All of the Above" Strategy. Its fundamental
      insight is that to meet America's climate and
      energy challenge you've got to do everything as
      rapidly as possible: all the coal, all the
      nuclear, all the gas, all the renewables, all the
      energy efficiency. The Congress of the United
      States never met a resource that it didn't like.
      And if you've got an articulate lobbyist or an
      attractive scale model -- and sometimes you only
      need one -- you can be reasonably assured of
      being included in the next federal energy bill.

      But the problem is that we don't have unlimited
      resources; And Eric has laid out the time
      constraints that we face. And all of the above
      just doesn't work. What he's given you instead is
      a system where after letting winners and losers
      emerge on their merits, you have a future you can
      believe in, driven by and dominated by energy efficiency and renewable energy.

      REICHER (23:30): This is the question that we've
      been struggling with for decades: the low hanging
      fruit, we call it, the low-hanging fruit that in
      fact grows back. (29:39): In this crisis that
      we're facing is this great opportunity to make
      the kind of investment that we've long needed and
      we finally have the justifications. We've had the
      environmental justifications, we've had the
      security justifications, now we have the economic
      justification. The electricity grid desperately
      needs to be rebuilt. We need to build 20,000
      miles of transmission lines if we're going to
      move wind from the Dakotas to Chicago or from the
      desert to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. We need to
      put a smart meter in every home in the U.S. so
      that all of us can in fact take advantage of
      real-time information and real-time prices.

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      http://www.calcars.org
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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