Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gore Challenge to Cut Reliance on 'Carbon Power' Is Tailor-Made for Hawaii’s Push to Get Off Oil

Could Al Gore be more in tune with Hawaii’s energy goals and issues? 

His address today on the nation’s urgent requirement to Get Off Oil perfectly matches what Hawaii’s government leaders (Governor Lingle), entrepreneurs (Henk Rogers and his Blue Planet Foundation), UH's SOEST and just about everybody else have been saying for years.

His remarks today address more than climate control and the environment and hit hard on national security issues, warning of “climate refugees” and the country’s dangerous vulnerability due to its reliance on foreign oil.

(NOTE: New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, who attended April’s Blue Planet Summit on Oahu, has provided an annotated version of Gore’s energy speech in the Times. Watch a video of the speech here.)

Most Vulnerable Hawaii

Said Gore: “The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk.” Drop Hawaii into that sentence and you capture the Aloha State’s gloomy predicament even now. No state is perched more dangerously on the oil bubble than Hawaii, which is massively dependent on oil for just about all of its energy requirements, including jet fuel – the mother’s milk of the tourism industry.

Media coverage of the former Vice President’s address is bound to be massive, and only the most philosophically resistant are likely to discount his assessment (as they always do).

Gore’s preference to tax sources of emissions will catch the attention of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, and one member in particular was instrumental in the 1970s in exempting Hawaii from the Congress-imposed mandate for power plants to convert from fuel oil to coal and natural gas. Hawaii is 77 percent reliance on oil for its electricity generation, and a tax on what we burn to produce it would have a severe impact.

Once Again, it’s OTEC

Gore’s focus on the threat to our country is all the more reason to accelerate Hawaii’s transition to renewable energy – especially base load sources of power. The options here are few for 24/7 base load energy, and we again suggest that ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) will be Hawaii’s ultimate energy game-changer.

Those who see Hawaii as the renewable energy model for the country and then the world would do well to enlist Gore in that long-term vision. No one speaks with greater authority in America or has wider reach on these issues than Al Gore. 

Hawaii’s aggressive energy goals will be more attainable with his enthusiastic support and the emotional lift he can provide.  Attracting his attention should be high on the to-do list.

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