Former Vice President Al Gore challenged Americans today to make a complete shift to Earth-friendly energy sources in the next decade, saying the nation's "dangerous overreliance on carbon-based fuel" is at the core of its economic, environmental and national security problems.
"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," Gore said, speaking from Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., where he called for a full switch to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.
Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work as a climate-change crusader, called the proposal "achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans in every walk of life — to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, our innovators, our engineers, and to every citizen."
Gore described the nation as "paralyzed" in response to the economic, environmental and security challenges because of the "tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately without taking the others into account."
Gore addressed those who describe "the challenge as not politically viable" and called on them to "go before the American people and try to defend the status quo and then bear witness to the people's appetite for dramatic change." Over thunderous applause, Gore continued, "The time is now."
Earlier in his remarks, Gore said he'd had "many conversations" with both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain concerning the climate crisis, and is optimistic that whoever moves into the White House in January will address the issue.
Gore also acknowledged former Republican congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, who was in attendance for the speech for his "open mind and serious approach to this challenge."
"One of my objectives in confronting this climate crisis is to lift this out of the partisan framework that sometimes is a serious impediment to solving serious problems in our country," Gore said.
Gore pushed Americans to lead the charge, calling on citizens to be "committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws."
"We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president's term," Gore said. "It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter," he said, adding "moving first is in our own national interest."
Gore's bipartisan group, the Alliance for Climate Protection, estimates the cost of transferring the country to clean electricity sources could cost from $1.5-$3 trillion over the next 30 years.
Last month, Gore, who had remained silent through his party's bruising primary battle for the Democratic nomination, endorsed Obama's presidential run at a rally in Detroit, Michigan.
"The outcome of this election will affect the future of this planet," Gore said. "We've got to have new leadership. Not only a new president, but new policies."