Friday, July 17, 2009

Al Gore's Challenge by Elizabeth Barrette

Have you ever visited a site called Gaiatribe? How about The Wordsmith's Forge? Both sites are written by our bloggy friend, Elizabeth Barrette.

Gaiatribe is a wonderful site. In it, Elizabeth talks about all kinds of things ... from getting a green job, to observing nature with our ears ... to a regular series called "Meet and Greet" where visitors get the opportunity to meet other bloggers and visit their sites. With Gaiatribe, Elizabeth shows us that everything in life has a "green" connection.

In The Wordsmith's Forge, Elizabeth presents articles on just about everything. The subjects range from political commentary to environmental issues to the flora in her yard.

Both of Elizabeth's sites are well written and interesting ... and well worth the time to visit. Today Elizabeth has kindly agreed to talk to us about Al Gore's Energy Challenge. Enjoy ...

Today is the first anniversary of Al Gore's challenge. On July 17, 2008 he challenged America to make a complete switch to clean, renewable energy in ten years. We now have nine years left to meet that challenge.

Al Gore's Challenge

If you are not already familiar with the terms of Gore's challenge, now is a good time to review it. View the original speech on video.

Read some articles from last year that analyze and discuss the challenge:

"Al Gore lays down green challenge to America"

"Gore's Challenge" by Winston-Salem Journal staff

"Gore's Challenge" by David S. Broder

"Taking Al Gore's Challenge: A 10-Point Plan to Repower America"

What Progress Have We Made?

We have now had a full year to begin implementation of Gore's challenge to make America's power 100% green. How are we doing? Are we 1/10 there yet?

Several websites support Gore's challenge in particular or green energy in general, most notably Repower America, We Can Solve It, and

Based on statistics from 2007, the majority of America's energy comes from fossil fuels, mainly coal (48.5%) and natural gas (21.6%) while less than 10% comes from hydroelectric (5.8%) and other renewable (2.5%) sources.

More organizations and companies are pushing the "green energy = green jobs" movement. This can help pull the economy out of its slump.

Recently, the House passed a climate change bill which makes some improvements (encouraging renewable energy and raising standards for building efficiency) but has grave flaws (including giveaways to polluters and long delays). Al Gore supported this bill.

So, we are not 1/10 of the way to a green America, but we are making some progress.

What Next?

There are many things still to be done. We need to be more careful about special-interest groups that sabotage efforts toward renewable energy, especially when they add years of delay to projects. We need to network more and connect interested people to build larger projects.

Search for a green job.

Join large activist networks and support green legislation, such as the Care2 Petition Site.

Read green blogs to connect with other people.

Visit the Gore's Challenge community on LiveJournal.

You are also welcome to use this icon:

Write about Gore's challenge in your blog; talk about the things you have done toward this goal and ask others what they are doing.

What Are You Doing?

In my household, we have reduced our car use. Now we only leave the house 2 days a week for shopping and errands (Monday and Friday) plus occasional trips for other reasons, usually on weekends. This post offers more ideas on using your car less:

We have also started using reusable shopping bags. This reduces demand for plastics made from petroleum.

We are paying more attention to our food miles. Growing food, trading with gardener friends, and shopping at farmer's markets all help lower the use of gasoline for food transport.

What are some things that you have done, or plan to do, to move towards sustainable energy?

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Elizabeth for this wonderful, informative article.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!


  1. As always..interesting and useful information..Have a great weekend. Did you see the post for Change The World Wednesday? It's on my wordpress blog. Instead of spamming it here you know where to find me on blogged & can click on it there. Have a great weekend. P.S.- I live in Asheville too. Just noticed that about RF.

  2. Great information as always. I am going to explore the other sites you listed and thank you.


  3. Very interesting article. I'd watched his documovie but wasn't aware of this 10 year challenge. I've done as much as I can to reduce my gas / electric bills but as I rent in a flatshare what I can do is limited.

  4. Thanks for the "No Spending Diet" idea; it's a great principle for analyzing & planning!

    I mentioned & linked in my analysis of Sustainable Belltown's plant-give-a-way to encourage urban agriculture.

    We provided pre-used bags for people who were carrying their plants onto a bus.

    We had plenty of lemon balm starts were thinned from a pea-patch. Mint, native raspberries and bamboo are other plants that are frequently thinned from local lawns and grow well in containers.

    We used clay pots from people who were going to toss them, as they were slightly cracked or otherwise imperfect but functional. Check your local recycling center, or ask your local thrift store about unsellable pots people donate (be up front, and offer to do something for them in return!)

    (In my own container garden, I like to use obviously repurposed, e.g. an old coffee purcolator.)

    All-in-all, we got quite a bit done on a "No Spending" basis but need to work harder on this aspect, IMO.