Gore Unveils Global-Warming Plan

Former vice president Al Gore proposed creating an
Former vice president Al Gore proposed creating an "electranet" for buying and selling surplus energy. (By Susan Walsh -- Associated Press)

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By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 19, 2006

NEW YORK, Sept. 18 -- Former vice president Al Gore laid out his prescription for an ailing and overheated planet Monday, urging a series of steps from freezing carbon dioxide emissions to revamping the auto industry, factories and farms.

Gore proposed a Carbon Neutral Mortgage Association ("Connie Mae," to echo the familiar Fannie Mae) devoted to helping homeowners retrofit and build energy-efficient homes. He urged creation of an "electranet," which would let homeowners and business owners buy and sell surplus electricity.

"This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue -- it affects the survival of human civilization," Gore said in an hour-long speech at the New York University School of Law. "Put simply, it is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every generation that follows ours."

Gore was one of the first U.S. politicians to raise an alarm about the dangers of global warming. He produced a critically well-received documentary movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," that chronicles his warnings that Earth is hurtling toward a vastly warmer future. Gore's speech was in part an effort to move beyond jeremiads and put the emphasis on remedies.

He took a veiled shot at the Bush administration: "The debate over solutions has been slow to begin in earnest . . . because some of our leaders still find it more convenient to deny the reality of the crisis." But he saluted a Republican, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for helping to push through sharp reductions in carbon emissions.

Gore noted that few politicians of any party are willing to step into the "no politician zone" of tough steps needed to address global warming.

Gore cautioned against looking for a "silver bullet" policy reform that would address global warming, a view many scientists share.

"There are things that you can do today and in the midterm, and things to tend to in the long term," said Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "You have to think on all the scales at once, and even that will only help you avoid the worst scenarios."

A spokeswoman for the President's Council on Environmental Quality said Monday that the Bush administration has committed $29 billion to climate research and programs and has reduced greenhouse gas intensity. That is not, however, the same matter as reducing total carbon emissions, which continue to rise.

Gore touched on nuclear power as a palliative for global warming but made it clear that this is at best a partial solution. Nuclear power inevitably raises questions of nuclear arms proliferation, he said.

And he warned against thinking that the recent drop in oil prices offers much help: "Our current ridiculous dependence on oil endangers not only our national security, but also our economic security."

Staff writer Juliet Eilperin in Washington contributed to this report.


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