I have a core belief that one can not complain unless one provides a solution (that is certainly part of the reason for this blog). Perhaps a number of people went to Al Gore with the same complaint. Inconvenient Truth was heavy on problems and light on solutions. Well, Al Gore’s new book, Our Choice: A Plan To Solve The Climate Crisis, is all about solutions, and it is a must read.
The central theme of Gore’s work is that civilization must price carbon emissions based on the effect they have on humanity. There are other solutions Gore provides, but without monetizing carbon emissions, Gore’s plan falls apart. It’s not a new concept (cap and trade), and Gore admits that. If you don’t believe in cap and trade, the book is still a very valuable read. There is something for everyone.
The book is very well written, and easy to read – which says a lot given the sometimes technical and dense content. Gore is less colloquial than Tom Friedman (click here for my review of Hot, Flat, and Crowded) whose style sometimes loses efficacy to gain mass appeal. Gore is more academic, but concise. And on top of that, it’s just plain interesting. As with Inconvenient Truth, there are graphics and photos to keep the book flowing through the technical parts.
The first half of the book systematically establishes the foundation of the problems we face (a quick summary of Inconvenient Truth), and provides options for the solution. Mr. Gore addresses the issues with each sector of industry: energy, manufacturing, transportation, farming, housing (though there is really no section on green building per se) and then lays out all of the options for a solution (solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration).
Our Choice is the kind of book one will use as a reference. Not only does the book provide significant policy arguments, it backs up the positions with facts and science (and a healthy analysis of psychology). The real take-away is the book drills down to risk/benefit analysis for each approach to solving the climate crisis. Is nuclear energy really an option? Can carbon capture and sequestration work for coal-fired power plants? Our Choice asks the reader to make the choice based on the well-defined pluses and minuses for each technology.
The second half of the book focuses on the challenges of convincing the populous and governments that change must occur now. Climate change detractors and some members of the Republican Party may take issue with some of this subject matter. The first half of Our Choice is generally non-partisan, but the second half contains some chapters that take on detractors – many of whom are Republican. A lot of the content in these sections is re-hashed argument, but it needs to be aired and recorded. In so doing, the differences of opinion are laid out, and some progress can be made toward a political solution.
Mr. Gore has stated repeatedly that our need to create renewable energy is not just a matter of global warming, it’s a matter of national security. I agree. As someone who finds political labels a liability, I suggest we consider at least that rationale.
Al Gore does that and more. Our Choice is a great book to help anyone understand the diverse options we face.