Al Gore, Chairman, Alliance for Climate Protection. Corporate executives gathering to talk about how their companies can be eco friendly in this economy at the Bacara Resort, in Santa Barbara, California, on March 5, 2009.

Al Gore wants an electricity superhighway.

“The new grid will be so much more efficient,” he told an audience of America’s corporate high and mighty at the Wall Street Journal‘s ECO:nomics conference today at Bacara. Following a morning presentation by T. Boone Pickens about America’s increasing inability to move toward energy independence, Gore lobbied for an imaginative nano-optimism. When faced with two hostile energy scientists during the Q&A session that was part of his on-stage conversation, Gore roared like a Nobel laureate.

Some highlights:

* After offering a detailed analysis of the divide separating homeowners from lenders, Gore claimed that “conflicts of incentive can be fixed.”

* Commenting on Pickens’ plan to achieve energy independence, Gore went global, saying, “U.S. confusion in the debate about goals started with Nixon, who began this pursuit of energy independence. In a global market and ecosystem, we have found a purely national idea of energy independence to be a chimera.”

* When asked about how the U.S. economy should retool, Gore spoke about how a company that made the bolts for the Golden Gate now makes windmills.

* On the stimulus plan, Gore said that a “synchronized global stimulus in aggregate will create green jobs for a green world.”

* Two consecutive critics of Gore’s priority on reducing carbon dioxide emissions brought out his passionate side. To one he said, “Climate comes first. Health depends on stable microbial populations and climate change disrupts this. Ticks come to Canada when you have global warming.” When another man asked, “What do we get from controlling CO2?” Gore said, “We get to save human civilization as we know it, and the conditions for life on the planet. How is that?”

* When the second question brought another attack on CO2 as a top priority, Gore said that the “approach is misleading. It’s not ‘either or.’ There is an 80 percent chance that north polar icecap will be gone during the summer within five years. Do we want to explain that to our kids?”

Toward the end of his discussion, Gore explained, “We have what we need right now except political will, but in the U.S., political will is a renewable resource.” It was a stellar performance by the new king of green.


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