Gore: Shift to renewable energy to avert disaster
Nobel laureate and former US vice president Al Gore on Thursday urged Americans to shoot for the moon and make a total shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy to avert a global crisis sparked by climate change.
"I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years," Gore told thousands of people who packed into a conference hall near the White House to hear the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner speak.
The shift to new energy sources was needed to ensure "the survival of the United States of America as we know it," Gore said.
"Even more, the future of human civilization is at risk," he told the crowd, who punctuated his speech with cheers and applause.
Nay-sayers would say the shift to renewable energy could not be achieved, or that 10 years was not enough time to make the transition.
But Gore dismissed them as having "a vested interest in perpetuating the current system no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay." He cited another history-making moment -- when, in 1961, Americans were called on to take a "clearly leading role" and put a man on the moon.
"When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal," Gore said.
"But eight years and two months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon," Gore told the crowd, eliciting another huge cheer.
"We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history," Gore said.
"Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years.
"Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind," he said, echoing the words spoken by Armstrong when he became the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The chief obstacle on the path to achieving 100 percent renewable energy in 10 years was a dysfunctional US political system that panders to special interests, said Gore, who served as vice president for two terms in the 1990s under Democratic president Bill Clinton.
"In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests..." Gore told the rally organized by environmental activism group wecansolveit.org.
Gore, who narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election to President George W. Bush, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body of 3,000 scientists, for work on global warming.
To a rousing cheer and standing ovation, the man who jokingly calls himself the man who used to be the next president of the United States called on Americans to take concrete steps to halt climate change.
Americans need to change "not just light bulbs, but laws," he said.
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast July 17, 2008.
(with wire reports)