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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 14, 2009 4:00am-5:15am EST

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his mother was my junior high spanish teacher. [laughter] [applause] [speaking in spanish] [laughter] >> finally got to use that. i just had my mother was a spanish teacher and i'm a lousy student. how great is it to be in miami this morning? how great is it? [applause] >> and i will not be here long because i have a feeling you're
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waiting for the big fella to come out and talk to you about the biggest issue facing our world. i've always believed that the truly heroic elected officials are the ones who thrive and extend beyond the next media cycle, beyond the next election and sometimes beyond their life cycle. and that means heroism and political life means resisting the impulse of playing the angles of the short-term, and instead accepting the burden of addressing the long view. knowing that your greatest efforts may never get you a political success or even an achievement that you seek in your own lifetime. few public officials fit my definition of heroics, but al gore embodies it. [applause] >> al gore, vice president al gore, deep down and proved wrong the most powerful special interest in the world. he had started almost a battle
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taking on an adversary with infinite money, a colossal megaphone, and one who felt unconstrained by facts or science or even fairplay. but through the careful assembly of a single argument, premised on facts and science, and embedded with principles and morality, al gore convince a nation and a world of a truth and a challenge that had sought to conveniently ignore. in his last book, "an inconvenient truth," that's the book where he proves them wrong and made his famous call to arms, then his book today, "our choice," is his battle plan. it is our battle plan. it is what comes next. and like the last effort it does not dumb down the problem, rather it challenges the reader in the world to better understand invocations of what we have done, the context of what we must do. i believe there has never been a more important time to make this
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case in our state, in our state of florida, modern steps we took last year in the right direction are being preceded from as it has to go to. i do not know an elected official in my lifetime is taken on an issue, really has taken on an issue that in every respect of the issue of our age, and handled it with the passionate intellect it demanded. i don't know, folks, whether great move and make great men are great men make great movements. but i really do believe that this was a movement that desperately needed a great man. and this movement found its great men in vice president al gore. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, it is my truly great honor and great privilege to present to you a great hero, vice president al gore. [cheers and applause]
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>> thank you. thank you very much. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. thank you. thank you very much. well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. it is so great to be back in south florida, and i want to thank dan gelber for his very generous introduction. you probably heard the old line, i wish my mother and father could have heard that. my father would have enjoyed that. my mother would have believed it. [laughter] >> but very generous and very thoughtful. thank you, and what a beautiful family dan has. dan and i have been friends for a long time. he was counsel for the legendary senator sam nunn, who is still doing great work, by the way. wonderful public servant, and ran the permanent subcommittee on investigations. i wish you well in your current
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endeavor, dan. a very, very fine public servant. thank you. [applause] >> i want to acknowledge my friend, representative elaine bloom who is here, and thank you very much, elaine. [applause] >> and i want to acknowledge this fantastic miami-dade college, one of the greatest institutions of our country and the world. and i think president and his staff for all of their hospitality here. [applause] >> i am al gore. i used to be the next president of the united states of america. [laughter] >> i don't think that's funny. you know, i came here to miami on a book tour when i wrote earth in the balance back in 1991, and before joining bill clinton, six, eight months after that. it seems like a long time that i
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have been speaking and writing about this issue, climate crisis. i was reminded recently of how long it's been when i was with a friend, we worked through lunch and went back to the airport, and stopped at a little place called souping damages are and i went to the line and got a bowl of soup and sat down on a plastic chair, plastic table. and i was eating my soup, and a woman walk by in front of this table just staring at me as she walked past. and i didn't think anything about that until a few moments later out of the corner my eye i saw the same woman coming in the opposite direction. staring at me, and so i looked up and said how do you do? she took a step forward and she said, you know, if you lied undedyed yourhair black you wout like al gore.
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[laughter] >> so all these years later, here we are, just one month away from the historic meeting in copenhagen, denmark, where all of the nations of the world are about to gather. to try to get a treaty that accelerates the movement to solve the climate crisis. i was with a group of environmentalists a couple of weeks ago. and somebody said how do you feel about copenhagen, and so the next reset i feel fine. and it made me think of a story that i heard, oh, gosh, it's probably been 30 years ago now. when i was a young congressman and rural middle tennessee, an agricultural district running from kentucky to alabama, and i used to have townhall meetings all through the weekends.
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and i had finished five townhall meetings that saturday. and late at night i was driving back to my home in tennessee where i was listening to the grand old opry on the radio. and i don't know if there are any country music fans down here in south florida, but i know there are some. but i was listening and there was a wonderful woman, a comedian named cousin minnie pearl. [applause] >> and she wore that big straw hat with a price tag hanging off it. her real name was scary can it. she was a lovely lady and a really wonderful person. she had this country, act and she was from grinders to which. she told a story i probably told a thousand times in the years since. but i recall that, my friend made that comment, she told a story about the farmer who was involved in an accident.
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and he sued for damages. and the driver of the other vehicle hired a lawyer, and that lawyer cross-examine the farmer on the witness stand. and the lawyer said, now isn't it true that immediately after this accident you said i feel fine? and the farmer said, well, it's not that simple. you see, i was driving my county town in the back of a truck. this fella came driving across the center of the line. the lawyer said i object. wait a minute. your honor, we are in the middle of a trial here. we don't want to hear a long story. just answer the question yes or no. did you or did you not say it immediately after the accident i feel fine? and the farmer said, well, i was leading up to that. you see, i was driving my county town in the back of my truck, and this fella came driving across the centerline and ran right smack dab into my truck and knocked it over and threw me
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out and through the kowtowed. i was on one side and cows on the other. and highway patrol and came up and he took one look at dachau and said she is suffering. pulled out his gun and shot her right between the eyes. [laughter] >> came around to my side of the truck and said how do you feel? i said i feel fine. [laughter] >> now, the point of that store is the alternative to not getting an agreement in copenhagen is unacceptable. because here's what's going on, today all around the world we will put 90 million tons of global warming pollution into that thin shell of atmosphere surrounding the planet. and all that global warming pollution is trapping a lot more
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heat in the earth's atmosphere. 25 million of those tons go into the ocean every single day, and they are making the ocean more acidic interrupting the forming of coral reefs and everything that makes the shell, kind event osteoporosis now. and in the atmosphere as co2, which is the principal global warming, along with methane, black carbon, the other pollutants, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, all of that together traps the heat and raises temperature. the planet has a fever in effect. now if you have a young child, and as the child start running a fever, you may think it is a 24 hour bug. usually it is. often it is. but if it keeps on going up,
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well, you go to the doctor. if the doctor says, well, we've done the test here. the bad news is it is not a passing bug. we will have to take some action here, but good news is if we take action we can fix this. you don't say well, doctor, i was listening to talk with you and i just think you are full of hot air. you may want to get a second opinion, and we've done that. 20 years ago, the united nations set up a body with 3000 finest scientists in the world, specializing in the many disciplines that have to be brought to bear in an effort to understand this unprecedented crisis. and now over the last 40 years, they have issued for unanimous reports. and the last one declared that the evidence is unequivocal,
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unequivocal. and they are practically shouting from the rooftops saying we have got to take action. because the temperatures continue to rise, and the build up of this global warming pollution threatens in the future, truly catastrophic damage that threatens the future of human civilization itself. and it has been difficult for all of us to really get our arms around how big this crisis is. partly because as human beings, we naturally sometimes confuse the unprecedented with the improbable. if something has never happened before, we are generally safe and assuming it's not going to happen in the future. but the exceptions can kill you. and this is one of the exceptions. and it is unprecedented because what's happened in the last 100 years or so is there's been a
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radical change in the relationship between humanity and the ecological system of the planet. we've quadrupled the population in just 100 years. in 1900, the population was a little over 1.5 billion. now it is six-point 8 billion. and that is a fundamentally new relationship between us and the surprising fragile ecosphere of the planet. more importantly than that, the technologies in common use today are a million times more powerful than the ones that are grandparents had at their disposal. whether it is genetic engineering or new chemical processing, or all of the powerful machinery that we use that churns through the carbon fuels in the crust of the earth,
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and leaves that residue in the atmosphere. the combination of six-point 8 billion people soon in this century have four through the century, going above 9 billion people, multiplied by these powerful technologies, just give us a much, much bigger impact than we ever have before. and when the scientists are virtually unanimous in saying, hey, this is unequivocal, we have got to act, it is a real challenge to our moral imagination, first of all, and then to our ability to get our act together and make the changes that are necessary to do something about it. and most of the changes, and they are outlined in this book, are changes that we should be making for other reasons anyway. in addition to the climate crisis, remember, we've got an economic crisis and we need to create millions of good new
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jobs. this is a good way to do that. would've also got a national security crisis that's linked to our overdependence on foreign oil. which is a dependence that keeps rising year by year by year. one of the charge in this book, and by the way, it is filled with full color pictures and graphics, and it is like an inconvenient truth in that it is easy to read and it pulls you into it, but one of the two page graphic shows what will happen to the price of oil over the last 35 years connected to the political events that affects the price of oil. and it is not an accident that the first arab opec oil i embaro came just two years after the peak production of oil in the united states back in 1971. and now we may be, according to many, approaching me already be as some people think, we passed
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peak oil production globally. that is an argument between a geologist and the economist, and we don't know the answer, that the international energy agency's just published its first comprehensive report of oil supplies in the world, and of course the biggest those supplies are in the middle east. we get our oil more from canada and venezuela and nigeria, but also saudi arabia. but the world oil market is affected by what happens in those very large pools of oil in the persian gulf. and they sometimes in deed often manipulate the price to reach two objectives. first, naturally they seek to maximize their revenues. they want to get as much money as they can, and we are sending hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign countries every year just for the millions of pairs of oil that we use every single
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day. about a half a second objective. and we haven't really taken into account in our thinking their second objective. they seek to manage our political will in the united states. the price goes way up, and we begin to feel the sense of shock. and we get our act together a little bit. we say we're going to get office for a low, we're going to do something about it. but then when they see us getting close to shifting away from foreign oil, then the price comes back down again. you know how that happens. and then we relax and we wait for more of the next cycle. so we have been on this roller coaster, and we have had two wars over in the persian gulf in the last couple of decades. and those wars have many complicated causes, but one of them is our national security is threatened if we have a sudden cut off of the oil supplies at a
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time when we are so ridiculously dependent on foreign oil. so there's a common thread running through the climate crisis, the economic crisis, and the security crisis. and that comment thread that links them all is our absurd over dependence on carbon-based fuels. and if we grab hold of that thread and pulled hard, all three of these crises again to unravel, and we hold in our hands the answer to all three of them. and that is to switch from carbon-based fuel to a abundant, renewable energy sources available right here in the united states of america. much higher levels of efficien efficiency. sustainable agriculture. sustainable forestry. we know what to do, but this book, "our choice: a plan to solve the climate crisis," outlines the solutions to the climate crisis here and they
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offer us the opportunity to create millions of good new jobs right here in the united states, jobs that cannot be outsourced to foreign countries. so they are inherent in the american jobs. they offer us the chance to cut that in dependence, and most important, they give us the means to discharge the more responsibility that we have two are children and future generations. and also to ourselves, because these impacts of the climate crisis are beginning to unfold right now. we see in the deeper and longer droughts, because higher average temperatures evaporate more mosier out of the soil. the climate change, the change in the pattern shifts to places where the rain falls, and when it comes it leads to a much
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larger downpours. but then that mosier evaporation out of the soil gives us larger floods and larger droughts. and the sciences are agreed on that. we see more fires. there has been an enormous increase in the size and the number of large fires on every single continent. because when the vegetation dries out, then you get more candling. and you also get more lightning by the way. a study at the university of tel aviv demonstrates that each 1 degree increase in temperature brings a 10% increase in lightning strikes. you put more energy in a system, it becomes more energetic. you also get stronger storms coming off the warmer oceans. south florida has had a bitter experience with these stronger storms. and the storms have faster winds and higher moisture content in the storms, so they are more destructive for both of those
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reasons. you also get a melting of the ice in all of the ice covered regions of the world. and in those places that depend on the seasonal melting of the snow and ice in the mountains for the drinking water and agricultural water, places like california, south america, europe, and most significant in terms of the number of people affected in the himalayas, you know, 40 percent of all the people who live on this planet now get 50 percent of their drinking water and agricultural water from the seasonal melting of the snow's and the eyes in the himalayas. and the seven great rivers of the ganges, the river and yellow river in china, they all originate in the same field of ice in the himalayas. and that ice is melting that
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snow is melting. in some of those areas, the flows in friezes temporary, but when it is gone then the flows are shut off. and as the ice melts in those large chunks of ice, masses of ice in greenland and west antarctica, which is the most moldable part of antarctica, each one of those areas of ice is equivalent to an increase in sea level of six to 7 meters, or 20 feet or so. we have already seen the beginnings of sea level rise, slowly at first, but it is now accelerating you can't get those large masses of ice become destabilized, and there is evidence that process may be beginning now, then we could see catastrophic sea level rise. and each 1 meter of sea level rise generates approximately
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100 million climate refugees, in places like bangladesh. that process has already begun. people who used to rebuild their lives every 20 years when the storm surges game are now having to rebuild their lives every four or five years. and they can't do that, so they are moving to the cities and the concertino barbwire has gone up on the border between bangladesh and india. in the low-lying island nations, the trickle of refugees has already begun. they just added a new line item to the budget last year entitled funding to purchase a new country. [laughter] >> and it is not a joke to them, i'm telling you. you may have seen a few weeks ago, they had a cabinet meeting in scuba gear underwater. and maybe, you, maybe you think is a publicity stunt. they are trying desperately to
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get the attention of the rest of the world to what's happening to them. and we are all in this together. the increase of global warming solution anywhere on earth threatens the future of civilization everywhere. on earth. now, the north polar ice caps, just to spend one more minute on these impacts, the north polar ice caps is a floating ice cap covering the arctic ocean. for most of the last 3 million years, it's been the size of the continental united states. 40 percent of it has disappeared in the last two or three decades. and some of the scientists are now saying we are in danger of losing all of it during the summer months within the next five, 10, 15 years. now the reason that's important is, if that doesn't raise the sea level because it is floating, but when it disappears then it doesn't reflect the
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sun's radiation, the open arctic ocean absorbs it and heats up much more rapidly than the rest of the world. and the shores of the arctic ocean extending far inland are frozen now, the permafrost, but under. and it contains such large quantities of frozen carbon, mostly frozen plant matter down in the soil, that it is beginning to fall out and release methane and co2. and were that process not to be interrupted, then we would double the amount of this global warming pollution in the atmosphere in a relatively short period of time, making an already difficult problem twice as hard to deal with. so the time to act is now, and the scientists often warned us we don't have the luxury of time to wait and wait and wait. but we have got to reach a
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consensus in order to solve this problem in time, and to solve it effectively. and one of the ways to build a consensus is to reach agreement on the fact that solutions are available. over the last three and a half years since the@@ú@ú-xlñ
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-- that understand that the old ways, the old polluting ways make them a lot of money. they don't want to change and they have a lot of political power and they have lot of influence and they're spending a lot of money and they are working very hard to try to paralyzed the political process and prevent the kinds of changes that are necessary to all lots
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to really solve this crisis. this is a presentation of a complete plan to solve the climate crisis. it has an introduction and a conclusion and a few parts with many chapters in between. i would like to spend a few minutes giving you an overview of this book and i will look forward to signing books for you and i hope you enjoy this book. i start with a presentation of exactly why this crisis has unfolded. that is just for the starters. there are six pollutants, six kinds of pollutants that are put up there and each of the six is connected to a whole pattern of activity. i traced that at the very beginning.
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in the second chapter, i focus in on energy, where it come from and where it goes and how we use it and what patterns are connected to those energy systems. that is important because oil and coal are the principal sources of energy in the global economy and they represent together the single largest source of global warming pollution. 150 years ago this year, two events took place at the same time, that are connected to this. the first oil well in the world was drilled in pennsylvania by colonel edwin drake. he wasn't really a colonel but that is another story. at the same time the great irish scientist john dingell discovered co2 traps infrared
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radiation. we have already begun to use coal at the beginning of the industrial revolution and that began to accelerate. but will overtook coal and now the two of them together, both rich in carbon, represent the principal source of fuel for our economy and shifting away from these dirty polluting fuels is one of the principal challenges that we face in solving the climate crisis. it is not the only one. i go into the others in this book as well. in section ii of the book i focus in on the principal sources of energy that we can get from renewable sources. first of all, solar energy.
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there is enough sunlight that falls on the surface of our planet in one hour to equal a full year's supply of energy for the entire world. the scientists and engineers have gotten better and better, better and better at capturing and converting that sunlight into electricity. there are two principal ways they do that if you don't count the hot water heaters which are very effective and we ought to make greater use of that if you don't count passive solar energy which is also very effective use of solar energy but you are talking about producing electricity, there are two ways to do that. the sun's rays can be concentrated with mirrors to boil water and turn a turbine generators. that being done already, it is a very effective way to make
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virtually unlimited amounts of electricity. the second way is probably advancing a little more rapidly than the first way, and that is what is called photovoltaic energy, a $20 word that just means they have figured out how to take the photons in the sunlight and transform them into a electrons that make electrical currents. that is an exciting source because innovation gives us a lot of leverage on improving the cost effectiveness of that sort of energy. they are coming up with a lot of exciting breakthroughs and most are made out of filaments. that reminds us that silicon was used to make computer chips and you know what happened with computer chips and computers. they get twice as powerful for the same money every 18 to 24 months.
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it is called more's lot, named after the first man who noted this pattern in 1947. it continued for 60 years. the transistor's drive the process of innovation that drives the cost down. by the way, more's law is not a lot of physics, is a lot of self fulfilling expectations. these computer chip companies realize that the demand for computer chips was growing so rapidly, it made sense for them to invest a lot of money in research and development so that they can capture a larger share of that growing market and each one of them look over their shoulders at the competition and they know they have got to
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innovate and spend more on research and development so they can continue to keep that price coming down. and now this sounds unbelievable but it is true, think of how many transistors there are in this room in some of the watches and cameras, lots of them in computers and everything, for every man, woman and child there are 1 billion transistors. unbelievable. the point of that story is that cost reduction curve came from the realization that this incredible revolution was unfolding and so they invested in the innovation that brought the cost down and approved the effectiveness. the same process is beginning to happen with photovoltaic energy. we can affect it by making a choice, our choice consistently
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comes back to the point that by making the choice to shift away from carbon based fuels we can have a huge impact on the research and development, on the development process and on the cost reductions for these exciting new forms of energy. the pattern so far is this. every doubling of the market for photovoltaic energy has reduced the cost by 20%. that is not as powerful as more's law. when the world make a commitment to move swiftly in this direction, we will see sharp cost-reduction. solar energy is an incredibly exciting form of energy and in south florida you have one of the greatest resources of sunlight of anywhere in the world. secondly, wind energy. i won't spend a lot of time on this because you all know this
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is a very effective, in many places very competitive now as a source of energy. but here is something you may not know. in the united states, for each of the last two years, the largest new source of elector city in that has been wind, more than coal, oil, nuclear and gas put together and we are not using the best wind resources we have in the mountains because the transmission lines don't run to the remote areas where the wind blows the strongest and they don't run to the southwestern desert area where the solar energy is cheapest and most effective. later in the book there is a chapter on what is called the supergrid. you have heard of smart grid, designed to replace the antiquated obsolete electrical grid we have in the united states today. we need to replace it anyway.
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there are two new technological breakthroughs that make this supergrid very compelling. they have new transmission lines that don't waste and lose so much of the electricity. you can transmit electricity over long distances of thousands of miles if you want to with very few losses. secondly and more importantly, because of the computer chips and the information revolution, we can put these smart devices and transistors throughout the grid that help to balance it and eliminate the waste and help to balance the peak loads and make the whole thing more efficient and make it less vulnerable to breakdown and outages and cascading failures. presently, our country loses
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more than $200 billion per year from these outages and failures in our electors in the grid. you may have noticed in the news a couple days ago that most of brazil and part of uruguay lost all their electricity because of failures in their transmission grid. we have those too. the new york blackout was probably the most famous example of it. there are smaller ones that happen all the time. since so many businesses depend on computers and sophisticated electrical we couldn't it caused a huge amount of money when all of a sudden it failed. there are multiple reasons we need to build a supergrid and that process has begun. president obama after only one month in office put that stimulus in place and help to fight back the recession and as we continue to build a supergrid we will create millions of good
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new jobs by building the solar panel and the windmills and making this historic transition away from the dirty polluting vulnerable carbon based fuels. the third new source of energy i talk about in the third chapter, chapter v, the third one in this section is something called enhanced geothermal energy. this is a sleeper in this debate because there is widespread misunderstanding about geothermal energy. most people still think of geothermal energy in connection with the places where hot water bubbles up from inside the earth and some of those places have long been used to produce electricity. but now, with the technology for drilling deeper into the earth with drill bits that don't melt when you get farther down because the farther down you go the hotter the temperature gets,
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if you go down two kilometers, almost the entire western united states, if you go deeper in the entire united states, there is an unlimited source of extreme heat that can be used to generate electricity. they now estimate that we in the united states have a 35,000 year supply of energy just from this enhanced geothermal energy. and it is not intermittent like solar and wind. it doesn't depend on when the sun shines and when the wind blows, it is constant, 24 hours a day. that is a very exciting source of renewable energy that this book details and shows how we can use it and how we can create jobs in the process. the fourth source is a controversial one called biomass. that basically means organic
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plant matter being used for liquid fuel or the production of the electricity. we need to tread carefully on this one because we made a commitment some years ago to making ethanol out of corn. that first generation of ethanol pñsñ,ñ generation, and ps new
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forms of biomass fuel are far more cost-effective, much higher yield and they don't compete with food and they don't use plants that have to be grown on land that otherwise would be used for food. this is an exciting source. in the rest of the world there has been a shift away from making liquid fuel out of biomass and a shift toward using that to create electricity instead of burning coal and oil. on our transportation system, which is one of the big reasons why we need liquid fuel, there is an answer that you have seen beginning to emerge and it is very exciting. the old systems for powering cars, the internal combustion engine, is horribly inefficient
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and polluting. and now you are beginning to see the first appearance of electric cars, plug in the electric hybrids and soon all electric vehicles. so the combination of a shift to electric cars and this supergrid and renewable sources of electricity give us the exciting prospect of becoming far less dependent on foreign oil for the source of gasoline and also one of the new solutions that is going to create millions of new jobs in the process. biomass is connected to living systems. the next session of the book -- hold on. let me back off. before i go to that i want to mention two chapters that deal with controversial sources of
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solutions. one is nuclear power and the second is carbon capture and sequestration. i won't spend a lot of time on this but i encourage you to learn more about it if you are interested. nuclear power, i used to represent oak ridge, tennessee, revenue clear industry began. i used to be very enthusiastic about nuclear power. but i have grown more skeptical and cautious over the years because of the practical experience that we have had with nuclear power. i am not opposed to nuclear power and i think there will be some more nuclear reactors, but we have got to be realistic about this technology and not just think it is a silver bullet. let's assume for the moment that we will solve the problem of nuclear waste disposal, that we will solve the problems of safety in the operation of these reactors. i watched so many episodes of
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the simpsons i know that homer operates one of these plants. but let's assume that we will solve these problems and i think that we will, but that leaves two big problems. first of all, cost has been increasing at the rate of 15% 3-year and a plant that used to cost $400 million now costs $4 billion and it is still increasing at the rate of 15% a year and they only come in one size, extra-large. so the utilities have been real reluctant to commit so much money to these very large, expensive plants when there is not a single engineering firm in the united states or europe that i can find that will stand behind an estimate of how much it will cost to build one or how long it will take to build one. so the present generation of nuclear reactors has been
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disappointing and has grossly unacceptable economics. with ever larger subsidies from taxpayers, there will be some built and they will pay a role and i hope that the new designs that are now being developed for smaller reactors that are inherently safer will enable that technology to play a larger role but we're talking 20, 25 years out before those designs are really available and we have got to act now. so the other one, carbon capture and sequestration which i am her sharia her lot about. it would be great if we could do economically and quickly. we can keep burning fossil fuels and capture all of the carbon dioxide and buried in the ground. it sounds intriguing. this too will play a role in our efforts to solve this crisis but probably not anywhere near as
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large a role as the enthusiastic advocates of that technology because here is the problem. if you run a coal-fired generating plant, you are in the business of selling electricity. if you install a carbon capture and sequestration operation at that plant, you have got to take more than 1-third of the technology or generating just to run the carbon captor and sequestration operation. so your business plan is just taking a big hit. if you have got to get rid of a third of your main product just to make it safe. again, the taxpayers are being asked to subsidize this and probably there is some fair balance that makes it usable in some locations, and with enough research and development maybe they will find it cheaper and more effective way to capture
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the carbon dioxide but the sheer volume of carbon dioxide is so enormous, every single day it would equal far more than all of the oil we are importing every day. more than all the natural gas and pipelines. and in order to store it safely, they have got to do a lot of very time consuming work to understand and characterize the underground geology in places where they believe it is safe to store it and that takes a lot of time and money and again to be able to do it, the good news is it is probably safe. all of the elements of that technology have been shown to work, they have just never been integrated and demonstrated on a large commercial scale and that too will take time. each one of the sites is very different and they have to make sure there's not some abandoned well running through it.
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they can do that. but again, there is a burden of implausibilities that should cause us to be realistic about the cost and how much time it will take for that to pay a roll. by that time, we could have made the shift over to renewable energy. let me move to the next part of the book that deals with the living systems, principally forests and soil and i want to talk briefly about population as well. sometimes i hear people say we need to come up with some device that will scavenge carbon dioxide out of the air. wouldn't that be great and sequester it. we have such a device. it is called a tree. if you take that technology -- [applause] -- if you take that
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technology to scale it is called a forest. we need to plant a lot more trees but here's the problem we are facing today. all around the world, principally in places like brazil and indonesia and some of the tropical nations, we are burning and destroying the forests of the earth, driven by poverty and population and subsistence agriculture and the greed of some of the folks that don't care and they want to strip mine all the trees, but approximately 20% of all the global warming pollution that goes into the atmosphere every day comes from the burning and destruction of forests. the agreement they are trying to get in copenhagen and blends together reductions in industrial remissions and a reversal of the deforestation around the world. that is a very important part of a solution. just today or yesterday brazil
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had a very positive announcement that they have made great progress in reducing their deforestation. president lulu has been one of the leaders in the emerging economy to try to come up with the solutions. there is positive news on that front and we need to do a lot more. the next chapter is about soil. you may wonder what that has to do with it. there is between 3, and 4-1/2 as much carbon in the world as they're all in all trees and vegetation put together. when i was growing up i spent all my summers on our family farm in tennessee and i learned from my dad what good, rich soil looks like. anybody grow up on a farm? it is black. black and moist. why is it black? it is the carbon. 58% of the layer in which the
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plants grow is carbon. industrial agriculture has led to the release of all that carbon. when the carbon is pull out of the soil of the nitrogen is pull out also, the soil becomes less fertile and less productive. that is why our grandparents knew about crop rotation. that give this will a little rest and plant trees and crops that would put the nutrients and carbon and nitrogen back into the soil. but the industrial agriculture techniques that rely on synthetic ammonia fertilizer is like steroids for growing plants, that has really hurt the fertility of the soil and has released enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. part of the solution to this crisis involves agriculture. we have got to take a hard look at industrial agriculture and
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factory farming and the reliance on corn. there are better ways and they can be more profitable for farmers. organic, better approaches to farming based on a better understanding of how the soil is revitalized. in areas of the world like sub-saharan africa where they have an impending food crisis, famine is growing, is connected to the fact that they have streamlined their soil. as with a lot of the solutions to this climate crisis, we can call -- salsa problem simultaneously. we can fight food and security, food income for subsistence farmers and a lot of carbon back into the soil. a brief word on population. the stunning increase in population that i referred to at the beginning of my talk is one of the principal reasons we have
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a bigger impact on the earth today but it is important for us to recognize that this is a success story unfolding in slow motion. we are seeing a slowing of the population increase of around the world but they are confident now that it is very likely that half way through this century the global population will stabilize because they now understand the pattern. high birth rates, large families, high death rates, and that shifts towards low birthrates, small families and small death rates. we have been through that transition. i would like to see a show of hands. how many people have grandparents who had five or six siblings and their families? how many of you have five or six
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children? okay. congratulations. but that is called the demographic transition and we see it right here in this room. our country, western europe, japan, we have been true it. everywhere in the world, that shift is well underway. they know what produces that shift. they used to think it was industrialization but that is just an indirect factor. actually, there are four factors that bring about that change. the education of girls. number two -- [applause] -- men, did you notice a slightly higher pitch to that reaction? you will like this a second one too. the empowerment of women to take part in the decisions of society.
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[applause] number three, the availability of fertility management to give families the ability to choose how many children. in ways that are culturally acceptable country by country. number four, most importantly, hi your child survival rate.@ú3t removed in order to implement these solutions. we have got the solutions. we got more than we need. in order to implement them we have got to move the obstacles in our path.
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a focus on three of them in particular and we are running out of time. i am not going to go into detail but we have political obstacles. that we have to remove. these large carbon polluters -- these large carbon polluters have been spending $1 billion a year around the world in order to paralyze the political system and prevent the changes that they think will be a disadvantage to them. they are not our enemy. they need to be a part of the solution. but we are long past the time where we can just sit back and relax and let them make all the decisions on behalf of the rest of us because they are the ones paying attention. part of the message of this book is you are part of the solution. you are the key solution to the
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climate crisis. you are in need to become active as citizens. it is important to change the light bulbs and windows but it is more important to change the laws and policies that enable us to solve this crisis. our political system is not working as well as it should, maybe you have noticed that. every time there is some kind of reform in the public interest, the special interests that don't want to see reform have a way more power than they should. i go into some of the reasons for that and some of the reasons for the lethargy. the average american now watches television five hours a day. five our day. here we are at the book fair, that means somebody is making up for us in bringing that average up. i hope the lot of them are
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watching c-span, by the way. but anyway, we have got to reinvigorate our democratic process. the internet based forms of communication are once again enabling individuals to take part in the conversation of democracy and use the power of ideas and become advocates and you are the key solution to this so please contact members of congress, contact your senators because that is where the legislation is right now. it already passed the house of representatives. i hope all in the sound of my voice will take that to heart and be part of the solution. the second goal ideal with is the flaws in the way we deal with pollution in the economic situation. carbon dioxide is invisible, tasteless and odorless but it has no price tag.
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the market sends signals to polluters everyday, and the signals say it is perfectly all right to dumped ninety million tons into the atmosphere every day as if it is an open sewer. we don't care. we are not paying attention. we don't count it, we don't measure it, we don't have accountability for it. i am a great believer in the market system and in our democracy, but in order to make them work for us the way they are supposed to, we have to pay attention to some of the flaws that currently exist. if something is not measured, if it is completely ignored, it is not taken into account and no wonder we have all this pollution being done. every time in our history we as americans have tried to improve the quality of life by controlling pollution, every time we have said don't dump it in the water, don't poison the air, always the polluters have said don't do that to us, that
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will be terrible and when we persisted to control pollution it turns out to be a lot cheaper to control it, you can do a lot faster and it makes life a lot better and we look back and say why did we put up with that for so long? this is the biggest example of it and we have got to speak up as americans and insist that the market system has a signal that helps us control this pollution by having a price on it. the final obstacle i deal with, one of the most interesting, i invite you to read about it, an analysis of the way we think about the climate crisis. i had four -- two full days with behavioral psychologist, an explosion of interesting new research on this. i had to put them in different days. i didn't know behavioral psychologists have to be kept apart from neuroscience tests. i am mostly joking on that but
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not entirely. just briefly, we are predisposed to short-term thinking. one of the reasons for that is that our ancestors survived certain kinds of threats that emphasize short-term thinking. i don't want to go into the evolutionary process. i know that is controversial. we had a trial in my home state, you know -- i thought about that when the chamber of commerce said they wanted a new scopes trial on climate. i can tell you coming from tennessee one scopes trial is enough. however you believe we developed, our threat that our ancestors face are different from the ones we face. when you leave here today i guess the yards of you running into a leopard or a lion are probably pretty small. but our thinking is still shaped
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by what we have inherited from our ancestors. the good news is we do have the capacity to form long-term goals based on deeply shared values and stay the course to go to those long-term goals. the greatest generation after world war ii got tired of these world wars coming out of europe so they made a decision to set a long-term goal with the marshall plan and democrats and republicans worked together for decades and now europe is unifying with peace and prosperity and we haven't had another world war come out of europe. that is part of the benefit of having this long-term thinking. we have that capacity. and now we have got to use that capacity. in the conclusion of the book, i sketched out two scenarios, whether we make it or whether we don't, i think we are going to
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make it. i am optimistic. because if we were to just take the benefits of all the hard work and sacrifice of previous generations and exploit them fully in our lifetime to the point where nothing was left and give the back of our hand to future generations, that would be the single most immoral act by any generation of human beings that has ever been alive on this planet. [applause] one of the sources of the passion i feel for this issue is i don't think that is who we are. i don't for one minute think that is who we are. there are some young people here, many families represented here who have children in a high-school or college. if you are a member of a family like that or if you are a young person, how many families have a daughter or a son who has
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changed his or her course of study or field of concentration in the last few years in order to learn about and gain the skills necessary to be part of the solution to this crisis. could i see a show of hands? thank you. thank you very much. that is a source of hope. i remember when i was 13 years old, hearing president kennedy announced a goal of putting a man on the moon and bringing him back safely in ten years. i remember how many people said that is impossible, he shouldn't have done that. but eight years and two months later neil armstrong set foot on the surface of the moon and planted the american flag. and on that day in houston at mission control, there was a great cheer that went up and the average age of those systems engineers was 26. which means that when they heard that challenge, their average age was 18.
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all over the world this new generation is rising to be a part of this solution and we are counting on them. but ladies and gentlemen, they are counting on us. we have got to rise to this challenge. there was an old african proverb that says if you want to go quickly, along. if you want to go far, go to get there. we have to go far quickly. we have got to get our act together quickly. and we must because not too many years from now that next generation will look back on these first years of the twenty-first century and they will ask one of two questions. if they see the earth undergoing
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this process of destruction and civilization itself is threatened, they would be justified in looking back at us and asking what were you thinking? did you just choose to ignore the global scientific community? didn't you notice the north polar ice caps melting completely? were you watching dancing with the stars? what in the world was going on? didn't you care? but if they look around them and see a world in renewable, with millions of good new jobs, with the earth recovering, with solution is being applied to all of these related problems, with a common sense of common purpose in life, with the prospect of
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increasing quality of life and prospects for each succeeding generation, i want them to look back at us and ask how did you find the moral courage to shake off that lethargy, pay attention and feel the passion that comes from caring about those who come after us. that is the question i want them to ask and we have to answer not only with our words but with our deeds. we have everything we need to solve this crisis with the possible exception of political will. ladies and gentlemen, as you know, here in the united states of america, political will is a renewable resources. thank you very much for coming, appreciate you staying here.
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