First, the moon, then, the grid

John Shinal · November 20, 2008 · Short URL:

Gore says Obama should issue Kennedy-esque challenge to young engineers

We choose to fix the grid.

That's the kind of challenge that Al Gore would like to hear from Barack Obama when he takes office as U.S. President in January.

Gore says the millions of young people who helped elect Obama need a challenge to  mobilize them.

At the same time, the economy needs a boost and oh, by the way, we need to do something about global warming.

All of that can be tackled if Obama can inspire young engineers to work on green technology, much like John F. Kennedy did when he issued his famous challenge, "we choose to go to the  moon" in early 1961.

Most people doubted in could be done within a decade, as Kennedy urged, yet Neil Armstrong took his famous steps just over eight years later, in July, 1969. The average age of the systems engineers in NASA's mission control room then was a mere 26, according to Gore.

Gore has put forth a plan to spend $400 billion to completely switch U.S. energy generation and transmission over to renewable sources from fossil fuels within 10 years.

That's more money than the $150 billion Obama called for in the energy plan he put forth during the campaign. That plan, which calls for greenhouse gas emissions and U.S. built hybrid cars, sets a more modest goal of getting 25% of U.S. power from green sources by 2025.

Yet Gore's plan calls for a lot less money and less time than the $4 trillion plan Google's Eric Schmidt put forth, which has a time frame of 20 years to convert the grid to solar, wind and geothermal power.

Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has a plan of his own, calling for a $1 trillion investment by the U.S. government. You can sign up to get a copy here.

So, who will get it right, the Nobel Prize Winner, the President-elect, the engineers or the oilman? Check back in 2018.

(Video shot on a handheld camera at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco)

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