Friday, July 18, 2008

Free Peanuts

I'd never read the Dot Earth blog before. I know nothing about Andy Revkin yet. And I've heard no details about Al Gore's call for carbon-free electricity by 2018.

But somehow I ended up on Dot Earth. Somehow I started exploring Andy's annotation of the speech. And, somehow, Andy had the foresight to reference a metaphor that would catch my attention, derail all non-figurative thinking for the night, and clamber its way onto this blog.

I think Al Gore is doing the right thing by challenging American government and the American people to commit to renewable energy. I think renewable energy is the smart way to go. And I think we should push push push to get there as fast as we can.

But 2018 might as well be tomorrow. The coal industry has power that we ought not underestimate. And Americans are absolutely wacko obsessed with cheap electricity.

Andy Revkin, my new hero, puts it this way:

Many scientists and engineers have looked to the Apollo program as a metaphor, but stressed that energy transformation is a far greater challenge. Here’s what one solar expert told me when I interviewed him for a climate story in AARP Magazine: “We already have electricity coming out of everybody’s wall socket,” says Nathan S. Lewis, a chemistry professor who co-directs the Powering the Planet project at Caltech. “This is not a new function we’re seeking. It’s a substitution. It’s not like NASA sending a man to the moon. It’s like finding a new way to send a man to the moon when Southwest Airlines is already flying there every hour handing out peanuts.”

Flying to the moon when Southwest Airlines already flies there every hour AND hands out free peanuts to boot. Wow.

The peanuts are an absolutely brilliant touch.

Thank you Andy. Thank you Nathan Lewis. And thank you Al Gore.

This is a discussion we ought to be having and a metaphor we ought to be circulating.



if you have time and inclination you might want to blog one day about polar cities aka Lovelock Retreats. pro or con.

what's your take on this?


Jake de Grazia said...

Hey Danny.

At first glance, I have to admit it seems a little crazy, but I'll take a closer look and give you some real thoughts.

Thanks for the links.