Can We Do It? Yes We Can!

07/25/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • A. Siegel Energy, Environmental Blogger,

Al Gore has set a challenge: 100% clean electricity, 100%!

Get us (the US, and eventually, all the globe) off coal.

And, determine to do this within a decade.

People are going to scream that this is impossible. They will be wrong. This is possible, difficult to do in the timeline perhaps, but absolutely possible.

They will, as with the very mediocre Associated Press story, focus on the cost to buy the infrastructure, rather the overall benefits and the cost to own a renewable electrical system. By doing so, they will be wrong. This is doing a cost-benefit discussion with only mentioning cost, and not the benefits, the huge benefits from electricity to reduced pollution to improved health to improved security.

Al Gore is setting a target.

Do I agree with 100% of his words? No, not necessarily.

But, let us think about something for a second. We should think of objectives at two levels:

  • Objective: What is what we would really like to have, the ultimate level of capability desired.

  • Threshhold: What is a minimal acceptable level of capability and achievement that is acceptable.

    Al Gore has sent a target, an objective target: 100% renewable electricity in a decade. This is possible, even though a very serious objective level target. We should have this objective in our mind. It is achievable, even if with difficulty.

    We should set the objective target but we should also understand what is the absolute minimum threshold target for renewable electricity generation.

    Eighty-five percent by 2018, on track to 100%? 75%? However, President Kennedy didn't say 'get Americans near the moon'. President Roosevelt didn't speak of nearly unconditional challenges. Leaders set goals, set targets for us, all of the US, to work for, to strive for. Yet again, Al Gore is showing himself to be a leader and setting an objective worth fighting to achieve.

    We might quibble about the dates and exact priorities, but at the core:

    This is possible
    This is necessary
    This is security, economy, health, opportunity ... rolled into one.
    Americans should remember that we are, together, Bob the Builder: "Can we do it? Yes, WE CAN!"