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100% of Electricity from Renewable and Non-Carbon Sources in 10 Years Answered

In the best talk of the 2008 Web 2.0 Summit Al Gore called for president-elect Obama to make a man-on-the-moon-like pledge to generate 100% of the United States' electricity from renewable and non-carbon sources within 10 years. Al Gore is truly an amazing orator, and when he got fired up about the climate, renewable energy, energy independence, and how it could play a centerpiece of our economy, I got fired up and so did the rest of the audience.

What really sent shivers down my spine was this observation: When Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon, the average age of the control engineers running the mission from Houston was 26, making them 18 when Kennedy made his pledge in 1960.

Generating 100% of our electricity from renewables and non-carbon sources in 10 years (let's call it 100-in-10) is the same caliber of challenge, but unlike getting to the moon -- which was something only a government could do at the time -- building a full economy of renewable energy should be orchestrated by the government, but requires the efforts of countless makers. I seem huge numbers of opportunities, both large and small, to make a difference and have impact. Get an engineering degree and invent a new type of powerplant, design and publish plans for low-cost DIY solar home heaters, be an advocate of renewable products and services.

It's clear that a lot can happen in 10 years, and even if Obama doesn't call for 100-in-10, the time to make a difference is now.

This is cross-posted on Makezine here.


He's super serial, you guys :-P

He's pointing that finger, at what? my rear? my wallet! Gas is $1.94/gal here. Alternative energy is now a hobby again, just like in 1974, after the last gas "crisis". If we could use political hot air, then we would have something. Most here are too young to have a perspective of 30 years. We covered this stuff in 1975. Except then it was "The next ice age". The government can't fix things, they break things. Family life, where is the dad? mom gets gov aid. Border security? ha! Welfare, medicare, Godless in education. The largest industry in america is education, and it is in deep trouble. I challenge you to walk through a highschool and not feel threatened. The people make things happen, they pay for it, invent it, finance it, own it, share it, give it, and fight to keep the gov from taking it. Whatever gov has, they took it from somebody. If Al is so great, why don't you send the KGB... I mean IRS more of YOUR money. Oh, don't forget how he invested in these alt energy markets before he made his movie. He made lots of GREEN.

You are right, alternative energy is back, but this time it's going to catch on because we don't really have much of a choice anymore. Brazil was smart enough back during the last gas crisis to covert over 60% of their cars to ethanol. So what's wrong with America? Are we a glutten for punishment? Apparently! We have options. We most definitely have options. But, we are slow and hesitant in taking those options...why? Ford manufactures a vehicle that gets 60 mpg, but is unable to sell it in the US. When asked why, a spokeman said for "political reasons." If we want to be green, we need to do it for ourselves and forget about waiting around for the government to step in and do it for us. Take a stand for your own lives. Buy some solar panels...go off grid...buy a wind turbine...it's not rocket science. Go to any bookstore and find a book that tells you step-by-step how to do it.

So what's wrong with America? Are we a glutten for punishment?

Too many gluttons, period, me fears.

go off grid.....it's not rocket science.

No, not if you have the resources to do it. If you want to feed back into the grid it may not be rocket science, but it definitely is not the easiest thing in the world to DIY.

You are correct. There are too many gluttons in this country. We are spoiled. I have posted on other sites talking about this exact same thing and all I got in response was a bunch of fearmongering about not wanting to give anything up. In reality, our lifestyles would change very, very little, perhaps not noticeably at all. It's a shame, but a lesson we learned from the government, which is to, not institute change, but throw money at the situation. Perhaps one day we will find ourselves in a situation where we no longer need the credit reporting bureaus, but a carbon footprint reporting bureau. Ha ha! Before I get a ton of responses, let me just say that I'm just kidding.

cheap gas is never a good sign for alt -energy. Mark my words, We will be driving gasoline 20 years from now. There just ain't nuthin' better. I like electric stuff. But it isn't convenient or cheap.

You are right in that cheap gas will once again put American's minds at rest, however, we need to be relentless. There is something much, much better than gasoline...propane. Gasoline-powered vechiles can easily and cheaply be converted to propane. You get just as much power out of propane as gasoline, it emits much less pollution, and, the best part is, the engines of vehicles that have driven their whole lives on propane fuel last much longer. They are clean as a whistle with no sludge. As for electric...I hope some day they do make an electric vehicle that is convenient and cheap. Only problem with electric is where electricity comes from. Most of our electricity these days comes from generators burning fossil fuels, so electric vehicles do not yet mean little or no pollution. If we switch to solar and wind power, then electric vehicles will mean help for the environment. For now, propane is our best bet as a crossover fuel. Fossil fuels are done. Too many people know the truth (the truth that oil companies have kept hidden for decades now) and will soon be obselete. There are too many better, cheaper, and cleaner alternatives out now.

Tis ok, one day the credit reporting bureaus will probably bottom out...we have already seen the effects of a tiny ripple in that system...*sigh*

He's pointing that finger, at what? my rear? my wallet!

Didn't a parent or an uncle ever point to you like that and say: Pull my finger! ?? |:-)

actually three of his fingers are pointing back at himself ...

When an uncle would do that, they normally had to expel gas, and when you fell for the pull my finger thing, they would release it, loudly :-)

To be factually correct we should point out to your readers that agriculture is currently the largest industry in this country.

. Wow! You're placing an awful lot of responsibility on Mr. Gore. He is not a god, nor is he in any position of great authority. His crusade is against GW, not other social ills. . If GW is as bad as AG is saying, then all the problems you listed pale in comparison to extinction.


Caption time! Gore: Is that ManBearPig right there? No its just Willie nelson

ha ha ok ok ok audience: AHHHH MANBEAR PIG! gore: i shall shoot it with my gun i formed with my hand!!!!!!!!!!

ok........ that's not wierd at all..................

sounds like something taken from an old Outer Limits show

They tended to end with a "moral" to the story.......For instance: It is said that if you move a single pebble on the beach, you set up a different pattern, and everything in the world is changed. It can also be said that love can change the future, if it is deep enough, true enough, and selfless enough. It can prevent a war, prohibit a plague, keep the whole world... whole.

ahhhhhh... Move a single pebble... deep enough... whole... eh, i don't think so... The world is a big place, a small difference sure, but not one to be noticed... sounds kind of cheesy to me, iamo...


OOOHHH!!! i see!

like a big, natural rube goldberg machine!thoughtful indeed...

Yes! You've hit the nail on the head. Complex systems with many hierarchicial levels of interaction, are very much like Rube Goldberg machines (the name ought to be capitalized, since the cartoonist was a person :-).

And the key annoyance feature of RGMs is that everything has to be perfectly aligned. If things are off just a bit, then it either won't work at all, or it'll end up doing something completely unexpected and undesigned.

That is what "sensitivity to initial conditions" means.

ooohhh, ok, i see...

Have you seen that honda commercial with the Rube? My science teacher showed it to us... We're making rubes sometime soon.

Turns out, they didn't do it all at once, since it was just too chancy, but each individual action is real...

Here's the vid:

Very nice. There was also a Mythbusters episode where they built an RGB. They eventually got it to go in one take, but they showed three or four of the attempts that failed, just to give you a flavor.

i know, that was the... christmas special? i want to make mine realllyyy small, like 1 cubic foot, or something... And like make it take pennies... The goal is to pop a balloon. any suggestions? My dad didn't really say much. Just that it was more "art" than "science"

Oh there is a lot of physics involved with the RG devices, as the Mythbusters found out, some of it is fairly chaotic.

A marbles rolling along a slot, being stopped at the end, then dropping onto a lever that flips it over to whack a spinner of some sort, that flicks another marble to drop onto another lever with a needle embedded in it, that end hits the balloon and bursts it.....just kind of a starter idea....embellishment is encouraged ;-)

yeah, physics involved, but it doesn't take any calculations, or anything...

just trial and error...

but they aren't required... A good rube takes skill, sure, but no calculations...

Practice....it is a form of practice. Practice does NOT make perfect, only Perfect practice makes perfect. It is always good to practice on things you can figure out without the calcs. ...helps get it into your head better ;-)

It is funny, because this is also a very Jewish concept: one person's effect on another, can have a far reaching effects on many if not all of the community. This concept has been around for quite a few millenia. :-)

ha ha, so the jewish were the ones who inspired TEH RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE?

i'll have to make a rube for science class soon...

Nice beard, is it done yet?

The beard needs a good trim, as soon as I can get a trimmer :-)

it looks like you gave it a perm! you have naturally curly beard hair, but not head hair?

The head hair will get wavy if I let it get too long....which I try not to do as it is an annoyance to wash and deal with :-) The beard I can comb out nearly straight, but that too, is getting long enough to get wiry"

Yeah, as with my head, my beard is long ONLY because I can't yet afford the trimmers.....I will be sure to switch to the Trimmed version, when it occurs

what? i thought all you needed was a special set of scissors... no? you need one of those fancy electric ones?

Scissors take forever and a day (ask anyone that has made the attempt) and is only for fanatics.....I just need the cheap-o trimmers with a guard on it to keep me from buzzing it down to stubble.

ok, i see now... I assumed those were 20-30 dollars... how much do they cost??