Washington: Nobel laureate and former US vice president Al Gore echoed president John F. Kennedy on Thursday as he urged Americans to shoot for the moon and make a total shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy in 10 years.
“I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100% 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.
“When president John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many 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 a huge cheer.
Make the shift to new energy sources
Just as Kennedy, in 1961, urged Americans to “take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth”, Gore said the shift to new energy sources was needed to ensure “the survival of the United States of America as we know it.”
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,” and again citing the history-making speech in which Kennedy called on Americans to enter the space race and put a man on the moon.
Blamed a dysfunctional US political system that has vested interests
The chief obstacle to achieving 100% 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.
Scientists and researchers applauded Gore’s leadership and urged Americans to heed his call to rapidly move over to renewable energy sources.
“Responding to climate change requires the full engagement of national, state and local public officials, business executives, religious and community leaders, and every citizen,” said Alden Hayden of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Renewable energy could be the answer
Going over to renewable energy would “cure our carbon addiction and stimulate the economy. It would be the turning point that is needed to lead the world to a stable climate,” said James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
And Jonathan Lash, head of the environmental think-tank, the World Resources Institute, said: “America has led every major technological shift in the last 100 years, and we can lead the next one as well. “The problem is not technology, it is political will,” he said.
To a rousing cheer and standing ovation, Gore, 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.