He's a former vice president of the United States, Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author, so the lavish news coverage of Al Gore's latest brainstorm was inevitable. Less understandable is why an idea so irresponsible - in economic terms, in fact, just this side of deranged - attracted so little ridicule.Look, in fairness, I think Al Gore's idea is challenging, to move to electrical power production that is renewable is not an unworthy goal. But the absurdity of doing it in a single decade is ludicrous. We aren't sending three men to the moon, we are providing power to the most power economic engine on the planet. That engine needs power and a nation of 300 million can't make it on wind or solar energy alone in teh next century (probably) let alone the next decade.
Gore proposed last week that the United States "commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years."
Not just all new electricity, mind you, which would be challenging enough. But all existing electricity, too.
This would of course require utilities to mothball hundreds of existing power plants as they launched a crash construction program of solar plants, wind farms and transmission lines costing hundreds of billions and perhaps trillions of dollars. (To put this in perspective, T. Boone Pickens, another fellow who's caught the wind-power bug, claims on his Web site, "Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20 percent of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.")
Gore would subject 300 million people to an experiment in which baseload power that is needed 24 hours a day to keep the economy - and our livelihoods - humming is replaced willy nilly by power sources still susceptible to natural disruption (such as lack of wind or lingering cloud cover), that cost more (at least in the case of solar) and are far less plentiful in some regions than others (Colorado is lucky at least in that regard).
Please call me when Al Gore returns to the real world.