Blog: Jason Bing

Earth Day reminds us that it's a green globe we live in. Meet Jason Bing, manager of Recycle Ann Arbor's Environmental House, a facilitator of healthy, energy- efficient home and workplace construction in Southeast Michigan. He holds a graduate degree in architecture and is a LEED accredited professional. Jason will be writing about local and national energy initiatives, issues and ideas.

Jason Bing - Post 2: Very Different Messengers: One Message

Last week while I was dreaming up energy-related blog topics for this post, I received another forward from a friend with excerpts from Lee Iacocca's new book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? The first excerpt basically sums up all the rest:

"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.'"

Go Lee! I am seriously outraged. Are you?

If you are, you should be aware of two other Americans who share your rage: T. Boone Pickens and former Vice President Al Gore. Talk about a unique moment in history. Is this officially the first time that a Texas oilman and a Nobel Peace Prize winner have shared a common viewpoint on our nation's energy situation? I'll take a shot in the dark and say "Yeah." These strange bedfellows agree on one very distinct fact: America is in the midst of an energy crisis never seen before and decisive action is required within the NEXT TEN YEARS.

So much so that they have both recently presented plans for eliminating US dependence on foreign oil in order to protect our long-term security. Both men are sincere and passionate, while advocating a bold plan for our country, and we REALLY need to pay attention to what they are proposing.

The interesting thing to note is the crossover in substance. Pickens' plan is purely an economic initiative and Gore's is a sustainability initiative (economy, ecology, community). While I favor the sustainability initiative, the plans show some considerable overlap, which is REALLY exciting. I mean, James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is backing the Pickens Plan (Inhofe is the wacko who claimed climate change is "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people")


"The United States is the Saudi Arabia of Wind Power"

This is directly from the Pickens Plan and a major reason why I am listening to what this man has to say.

In the Plan, he calls for a massive investment in wind power - replacing 20% of our current electrical needs with wind energy in the corridor from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota. This percentage would offset our current natural gas-powered electrical production, freeing up the natural gas to power our transportation needs.

He believes the Plan would require 1 trillion dollars of investment in wind energy, with an additional 200 million or so in added transmission capacity. This is no small amount of money - but if 700 million dollars A YEAR is leaving the country to pay for foreign oil - I think we could make the numbers work (and don't get me started on the cost of this "war").

Using natural gas as a transportation fuel alternative would mean a 25-30% reduction in greenhouse gases, which I personally don't think is enough. But if the Pickens Plan prevents the construction of additional "clean coal" and nuclear power plants, I would have to believe it may be a bridge to a cleaner, sustainable energy future.


What could have been…?

I'm not sure what a "man crush" is, but I think I have one when it comes to Al Gore. I'm renovating my house (green!) and I'll pop An Inconvenient Truth into the DVD player and crank the volume as I work to just hear his message while I'm working in another room.

Gore's Plan, which was presented in the last week or so, is everything we need. Gore calls for a massive investment in solar, wind, and geothermal energy with an even greater investment in energy efficiency. Within ten years, he believes it is possible to be generating 100% of our electricity with clean, renewable energy.

And I believe this man!

With a clean, electrical infrastructure in place, plug-in hybrids and battery powered electric cars become a transportation solution - free from foreign oil.

Gore consistently references John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon within ten years. I believe the ingenuity and capacity exists in this country to meet this challenge. Furthermore, in a world currently driven by finite fossil-fuel based resources - solar, wind, and other clean technologies are going to be the key to global development. Developing nations will desperately need access to renewable technologies in the coming years. The cost and availability of fossil-fuel based resources will be prohibitive.

Should we let the Germans or Danes corner this global market? (Answer: NO). The only way the United States could ever hope to maintain global relevance (let alone "dominance") would be to adopt a plan like Gore's and leapfrog to the forefront of all these clean technologies. If we let other countries blaze this trail, our economy will continue to suffer and things are going to get pretty bad around here…


T. Boone Pickens's Plan offers a scary projection. With current oil production rates and US oil consumption projections; in the next ten years (if nothing changes) the US will send 10 trillion dollars overseas - which will be "the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind."

Gore offers a different (albeit scary) perspective: scientists with access to data from Navy submarines have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire North polar ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This puts pressure on Greenland and the feedback loops exponentially increase.

The message is clear: we need action now. Take action, vote and be heard.