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I'll follow Al Gore

by Bill McGaughey

I always felt that America’s “finest hour” was when President Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely by the end of the decade and especially - talk is cheap - when the nation’s scientists, engineers, industrialists, astronauts, and space administrators actually did it. That was forty years ago.

Then the “realists” took over. We withdrew resources from space exploration and devoted them instead to more traditional ends such as building bureaucracies and waging wars. Political constituencies existed for that.

Today we are faced with an unparalleled challenge arising from population growth and increased industrialization on earth. The $4.00 per gallon price of gasoline is or ought to be a “wake up call” summoning us to new modes of transportation and energy use. The stakes are greater today than in the 1960s.

Last week, former vice president Al Gore called for the nation to abandon its reliance on fossil fuel and produce all its electricity from “renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources” within ten years. If the generation of electric power from renewable sources is combined with increasing use of electricity to power automobiles, that would go a long way toward reducing gasoline consumption, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, improving our nation’s trade balance, and eliminating the need for military adventures in the Middle East. It’s exactly what we need.

Minneapolis and Minnesota are prime locations for the conversion of our energy sources from petroleum to renewables. We have some of the nation’s largest wind farms in western Minnesota. Headquartered in our city is Xcel Energy, the nation’s leading power company in terms of generating electricity from renewable sources. We have important experiments in battery technology. We have environmentally citizens and idealistic consumers. For instance, our city’s mayor, R. T. Rybak, recently spent $11,000 to convert his Toyota Prius hybrid to a new battery system that extends the range of driving on electric power.

If President Bush had issued a statement at his State of the Union Address calling for the complete conversion of electricity to renewables in ten years, it would have rightly been compared to John F. Kennedy’s pronouncement with respect to manned flight to the Moon. But the President was too immersed in his Commander-in-Chief-of-the-world’s-only-superpower role. So it’s left to the man whom he defeated for President in 2000, Al Gore, to provide true Presidential leadership on what’s important to our country.

Now I know that some will argue that Gore actually won the election. Well, that’s water over the dam. It doesn’t matter any more. What matters is that we respond intelligently and decisively to the challenges that we face now. Al Gore has given our nation a good set of marching orders. So let’s close our eyes, imagine that he is President, and pull together politically to do what we need to do in the next ten years.

Independence Party candidate for Congress, 5th District.

Posted on e-democracy forum for Minneapolis on July 22, 2008

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