I wrote this article for the Huffington Post. The article can be seen in its original context here
Last Thursday Al Gore gave a speech, the full text of which can be read here, that challenged America to “to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.” It was a speech that should have inspired and excited Americans of all walks of life at least as much as, if not more than, President Kennedy’s famous speech calling on America to put a man on the moon within a decade. Instead, Mr. Gore’s idea has been met with a chorus of criticism, with the naysayers claiming that it would be too costly, too impractical, and too risky to attempt to meet such a goal.
Apollo and Gore’s “Moon Shot”–A Flawed Comparison
The comparisons between America’s mission to the moon and Gore’s “moon shot” proposal, while useful, are flawed. Both represent great challenges, yet it must be remembered that in 1961 we did not possess the technology to get to the moon; we do, however, have the technology to achieve 100% renewable energy. But perhaps more importantly, although the Apollo program was great for national pride and beating the Soviet Union, it was by no means essential to our nation. Switching to renewable energy, on the other hand, can not only dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it can also help us regain our stature in the world, create jobs, rein in unpredictable energy costs, lower health care costs, get us off foreign oil (provided we also electrify our transportation system) and force American companies to innovate in ways that will be good for them and good for America.