We’ve all talked about Al Gore’s description of global warming as a “great threat” to human civilization, but we haven’t looked at his proposed solutions.
So I checked what he has proposed to fight this threat to mankind. In summary, this is what Gore has recommended:
1. Ban any increase in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and then start reducing emissions. Tax CO2 emissions (and simultaneously eliminate all payroll taxes) to encourage clean-coal technology and other greenhouse gas reducers.
2. Change the U.S. auto industry to reduce use of oil. Encourage GM and Ford to switch to flex-fuel, plug-in, hybrid vehicles. Gore says in the average gasoline-driven car today, 90 percent of the energy is wasted.
3. Change U.S. factories, to penalize CO2 emissions, reward the capture and use of heat that now goes to waste, and encourage use of computerized energy-use monitors to save fuel.
4. Encourage U.S. farms to produce more fuel, to plant more trees and to stop deforestation. In the timber industry, lengthen the harvest cycle, giving trees more time to make oxygen.
5. Encourage retrofitting of U.S. homes for better fuel efficiency by making special low-interest mortgages available. Immediately require that architectural designs cut in half the use of fossil fuels in new buildings and make all new buildings “carbon neutral” by 2030.
6. Encourage greater use of windmills and photovoltaic solar cells. Encourage more private buying and selling of U.S. electricity into the national grid. Increase ethanol and biodiesel production.
7. Modestly increase use of nuclear power. Gore sees no significant increase in global electricity production from atomic power, first, because nuclear plants are expensive, and, second, because if nuclear power expands around the world, more nations will be tempted to use nuclear fuel for atomic weapons.
Nuclear meltdown. On the last point, nuclear power, I wanted to see how Gore would go. He doesn’t go far. Instead of saying what we should do with nuclear power, he predicts what he believes will happen to it.
He doesn’t lead. He’s “nuclear neutral.”
“While I am not opposed to nuclear power and expect to see some modest increased use of nuclear reactors, I doubt that they will play a significant role in most countries as a new source of electricity.” Gore says. “I believe that nuclear reactors will only play a limited role.”
He is right to worry about nuclear arms proliferation, particularly in the world’s dictatorships. But Gore himself has said polluting nations like China and India are looking to the United States for leadership on the climate problem. Well? China and India already have nuclear weapons. More nuclear power can’t alter the nuclear-arms status of the world’s three most populous nations. (The U.S. is No. 3.)
Unspoken truth. It’s obvious Gore doesn’t want to go too far on nuclear power for fear of alienating the Democratic Party base, which zealously views nuclear power as evil per se. By softpeddling nuclear power, he has missed an opportunity to lead courageously. Can’t a major new U.S. nuclear power program be even a temporary solution to this “greatest challenge”?
Gore says there is no “silver bullet” to solve global warming, but there is only what environmentalist Bill McKibben has called the “silver buckshot” approach. In other words, Gore is counting on lots of little things to save the world.
Let’s hope he’s right. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy for government, industry and the people to ignore little things.