The Next Generation's Great Adventure

08/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Apollo 12's Astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth man to ever walk on the moon, discussed his experience and what it was like to look back at Earth in a way that only three humans had done before. Bean talked about landing on the moon being his generation's "great adventure," and then challenged the viewers to figure out what the next generation's "great adventure" would be. I believe it is obvious that our generation's great adventure does not lie in space, but here at home.

Our generation's great adventure is to find our way out of this energy and climate mess we find ourselves in.

It was not long after the Apollo missions that America found itself in the oil crunch of the 1970's, prompting our leaders to talk about our unsustainable addiction to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, those same leaders failed to live up to the challenges that our nation faced and we are still overly reliant on fossil fuels. But now the problem has grown worse, as we also face the growing threat of climate change.

In 1962, President John F Kennedy challenged America to send a man to the moon and back within that decade ... and it happened.

Today, our challenge is just as great, but the solutions are also attainable.

Energy security and global climate change are growing threats to our national security that must be addressed immediately and simultaneously. Today, we fund both sides of the current war we are in by sending billions of dollars into the hands of petro-dictators. Climate change is acting as a threat multiplier that will decrease the stability in already weak states and increase the level of conflict that our already stretched military must engage in. These serious threats require a national program that provides the guidance and resources for our nation's best minds to invent our way out of this mess.

Project FREE is an ambitious program modeled after the efforts of the Apollo Program with the goal "to innovate the next generation of carbon-emission-free energy based on hydrogen, fusion, or other technologies."

The ultimate goal is to take Americans "off the grid" in the next 15 years; to end our dependence on centralized energy in favor of power sources generated at the point of consumption-the car, home, business, or factory-thereby liberating us from the limiting factors introduced by long-distance transmission and its regulatory roadblocks.

Project FREE calls for a national program, driven by the president, that creates a cabinet-level authority independent from partisan politics to invest funding and take full advantage of America's culture of innovation and adventure.

This challenge might seem overwhelming, but it is not.

When Alan Bean and his comrades landed on the moon, our nation was being torn apart by the war in Vietnam and the civil rights debate. The Lunar Landing was seen as an accomplishment that brought all Americans together and revealed the unbelievable force of our democracy.

Today, our generation faces similar challenges with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a deep recession and a national debate about where America is heading. We must come together now to secure our nations energy sources, reduce the growing threats of climate change, and protect our future.

Project FREE is challenging each of us to join them in this adventure!

Join Project FREE in this effort!