Our Choice

Audio from Northeast Public Radio

For someone who has spent years studying the significance of humanities accidental and reckless thickening of the belt of greenhouse gases that have long helped regulate our planetary heat, I was disappointed that the world’s leaders just announced a much less ambitious goal for the up-coming Copenhagen talks.

In fact, I was deeply disappointed that they are not yet able to commit to binding agreements that might slow our Titanic like race towards a much more disruptive future. Sure, I never thought Copenhagen would result in the stringent emissions limitations we need to avoid a dangerous increase in climatic catastrophes.

And, the part of me that has spent not years but decades teaching international politics was not surprised at all. We are after all talking about fundamentally altering how humanity uses energy, a challenge like nothing else we have ever taken on.

No, Copenhagen always seemed more likely to be part of the
educational process than an immediate implementation of a meaningful green energy conversion. But it’s important not to go overboard with disappointment. After all, the world really is making enormous progress though perhaps more as individual countries than as a unified international community.

After all, nations from Australia and China to the United States, long unwilling to commit themselves to the challenge of energy conversion are finally deeply engaged. Indeed China and the United States, together the nations most responsible for our present predicament and the solutions to it just embraced an extraordinarily ambitious program to jointly develop cleaner and a more energy efficient designs for everything from homes to appliances, while they together explore ways to gain the advantage of coal without the climate bashing price that comes with its use.

But the fact remains; the reason we are not making enough progress yet is because we’ve not yet generated enough political will to make really meaningful change possible. Indeed the American public has been too deeply distracted by the general economic downturn to focus on the challenge At least to focus on the energy challenge until it is more correctly linked to the possibility of new jobs which remain uppermost on people’s minds.

Which is exactly why Al Gore’s new book is so timely. After all Gore has spent much of his adult life informally serving as the public spokesperson for the international scientific consensus on global warming while finally making real progress with his ground breaking documentary and book An Inconvenient Truth has now taken up the next and most immediate challenge.

What precisely are we going to do about the challenge of a destabilized climatic system? Just how exactly do we carry out this ambitious energy conversion while generating the jobs we need now and into the future.

Thus the title of his book, Our Choice a Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis which is filled with material drawn from a series of solutions conferences Gore just convened with energy experts around the country; a book which interestingly hardly talks about Copenhagen at all. But focuses on the nity gritty of actually accomplishing this extraordinary task. To put people back to work, even as we pursue energy independence and stave off the worst of dramatic climate change. A book that offers a series of extraordinarily clear yet sophisticated chapters on the various alternative energy sources we have before us
from solar, and geo-thermal to the development of a new national energy grid.

Not shying away from the more controversial questions of whether nuclear power should and can be part of our future cleaner energy mix or whether it is actually feasible to clean coal to a point when we can gain the advantage of the energy it holds without the destruction it carries with it. All the while writing perceptively on the psychological and political issues that have made it so difficult for people to accept the implications of man made dramatic climate change.

A book that can easily serve as the primer we all need to successfully and optimistically move deeper into this new energy century with the optimism so many Americans felt at the beginning of the last century

About Steven Leibo

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