Motley Fuel

Global warming expert says it's time to break our oil habit.

Bad habits are hard to break, but we’ve got one right now that might kill off lots of living things — including our descendants — if we keep it, according to David Sandalow. The former Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, now a global warming expert and senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, wants us to get that unctuous monkey off our collective backs — whether we do it with plug-in electric cars, biofuels, bus rides, or measures as yet undreamed of. But we need “strong signals from government,” Sandalow avows, to kick-start private sector ingenuity, because we’re so accustomed to a single-fuel system, as were our parents and grandparents. “Ending oil dependence will require political leadership,” he writes. “The changes required to end oil dependence are far-reaching. Lead times are long. Many current proposals are far too small.” And our thinking, he laments, is stuck in the ’70s. His book Freedom from Oil offers fresh-air visions of what might happen if the next US president were to actually prioritize weaning America off the pump. Plans involving tax credits and the reformatting of factories are among many ideas proposed in the book’s putative “Presidential Plan to End Oil Dependence,” which begins with a “Clean Vehicle Executive Order.” It’s way past time for this, declares Sandalow, who will discuss his ideas in Room 290 of UC Berkeley’s Hearst Memorial Mining Building at 11 a.m. on Nov. 6, sponsored by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). Fossil fuels have wrought havoc, he insists, and “unless we change course, we’re going to see extremely serious consequences over the course of the next several decades and century around the world.” Overjoyed to learn of Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, he’s been happily driving a plug-in hybrid himself.


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