Al Gore Throws Down the Gauntlet in Today's Energy Challenge Speech

Just after taking the stage at Daughters of the American Revolution Hall in Washington, D.C. Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore thanked a packed house for attending his speech on how to combat climate change. And then he pointed to a couple of special guests: Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr and Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am (he of the now-famous "Yes We Can" YouTube video in support of Barack Obama).

Gore thanked will.i.am for making the trip from California, and praised Barr for his serious attention to the issue of global climate change.

After the crowd settled down, it wasn't long before Gore brought them to rapturous applause when he said, "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."

Then Gore threw down his gauntlet: "Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years."

The former vice president said his challenge is achievable and affordable now in a way it wasn't mere years ago, given the rising cost of oil and the impact of increased investment in new technologies. Specifically, Gore cited the fact that silicon needed for solar panels once fetched $300 per kilogram, but now only costs $50.

Perhaps acknowledging rumblings from Democrats who were reportedly worried that the speech comes at a time when Americans are more interested in lower gas prices than environmental lectures, Gore described his challenge as a necessary part of efforts to foster economic development and improve national security.

"Our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of [our] challenges -- the economic, environmental and national security crises."

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