AlGore made a contentious statement the other day. He said the USofA had no more than 10 years to achieve a carbon-free--not carbon-neutral, but carbon-free--energy system. And that, without exaggeration or hyperbole, the very fate of humanity on the planet would depend on it.
"I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years," Gore told thousands of people who packed into a conference hall near the White House to hear the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner speak.Notwithstanding the survival of the USofA "as we know it" is of utterly NO concern to the people who own and operate the machineries of our world, the call seems to me to raise some troubling possibilities.
The shift to new energy sources was needed to ensure "the survival of the United States of America as we know it," Gore said.
"Even more, the future of human civilization is at risk," he told the crowd, who punctuated his speech with cheers and applause.
Estimates of the cost/price-tag for the project are counted in the multi-digit TRILLIONS, in the ranges of 20-30% GNP (even in the corrupt, deceptive, dishonest way that misleading index is configured and disseminated). SO, realistically, ya gotta ask, "Where ya gonna get that kind of cash?"
It's a really good question. And the answer is, probably, devastating. Because, without a doubt, no matter who's the occupant of the Oval office, it's gonna come from social programs.
It's not gonna come from taxes on the wealthy.
It's not gonna come from reductions in military spending, or on the Nazional/Heimatssicherheitsamt. Obama long ago declared he would enlarge the Army and the Marines. The Border Patrol? More Fences! ICE? More agents. And he'll NEVER cut the defense budget, because it would hand a huge cudgel to the rightards who are already portraying him as 'weak' on defense.
It's not going to come from subsidies to big energy companies, whose cooperation and compliance will be crucial if the project is to have ANY hope of success--unless the GOvt is willing to try to nationalize the industry (which really is the only rational solution, but will never happen).
And all that, of course, assumes there is a good-faith undertaking, not just the usual propaganda/slash-and-burn job...
So, if the USofA does commit to the 10-year program to totally ween itself--ourselves--from fossil fuels, it probably means that Universal Health Care will not materialize, for example. And there will be reductions in other social services. And they'll use this as a pretext to finally loot Social Security. And even then it's likely to fail.
Even to save the planet, it seems, you have to compromise with the forces that don't care if it is destroyed, as long as they're rich when it happens. In the worst case scenario as well as in the best, they're secure: absent a disaster, their safety is secured by their wealth; in one, everybody's going anyway, and they go out on top...
Actually, thinking long-term, it seems altogether possible to me that the quest to "save humanity" becomes the casus belli in the next onslaught of authoritarianism.
But I'm a pessimist.
(Photo: AFP/Tim Sloan)