July 18, 2008

Moving first is the key to getting others to follow

Here are my favorite passages from Al Gore's speech A Generational Challenge to Repower America:

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.

When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.

In order to foster international cooperation, it is also essential that the United States rejoin the global community and lead efforts to secure an international treaty at Copenhagen in December of next year that includes a cap on CO2 emissions and a global partnership that recognizes the necessity of addressing the threats of extreme poverty and disease as part of the world's agenda for solving the climate crisis.

In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction.

It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

2 Comments:

At July 18, 2008 5:54 PM , Blogger Bjartur said...

What a bizarre mix of populist xenophobia and a call for internationalism. What's wrong with borrowing money from China? Is it ok to borrow from Swedes and Canadians? Is it better to borrow from Americans? Is borrowing just inherently evil? Why is the problem that we're sending billions to foreign countries for oil? Could we afford it better if more of it was produced domestically? Does American oil somehow cause less warming in his world? What's wrong with outsourcing? Do Americans deserve jobs more than other people based on their nationality? Why wasn't outsourcing a problem when it was mainly to Canada, but now that Indians and Chinese are getting the jobs, now it's bad. And if it's bad does that mean we should shut down the Toyota and Nissan plants in the US?

There are lots of other problems with this passage too, especially on the economics, but the xenophobia (or the use of xenophobia to further a political cause), isn't just incorrect, it isn't just getting the facts wrong, it's immoral. It would be bad coming from anyone, but is especially troubling coming from a peace prize winner.

 
At July 18, 2008 10:09 PM , Blogger Matt_J said...

Hey Wild Bill, if anything it was more isolationist than xenophobic, but this is not what Al is getting at-- the theme is self reliance more than isolationism. And what is wrong with self reliance, it is a form of ownership and this is good, creates value, promotes morality etc.
The two main points of course are energy security and climate change. It is better for the American agenda if we own our own power, rather than borrow from Peter to pay Paul (or from Hu to pay Hugo, or from Sieks to pay Shieks). It would also be better for the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Georgia to own their own power rather than depend on Russia.
Nowhere does the article advocate producing more oil domestically so I don't see your point with that. The article advocates producing our own energy from green sources such as the sun, the wind and the hot underworld.
And I don't see the point about outsourcing, you seem to be reading something into the text that isn't there?
In my book self reliance is alright, it's a longstanding American strength and virtue. Pride in America is OK. An American politician being loyal to the best interests of the US is also OK.
I see no point in fooling ourselves about global warming. It's a real problem and it's something we can deal with.

 

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