Since this book began to be written the world has changed. So have we. The world has become more technologically advanced. We have become more optimistic but also more acutely aware of the urgency of the moment.
That the world has advanced should be no surprise. That we have become more optimistic is a surprise, however, at least to us. After all, the whole premise of our effort in the beginning was to advance the concept that we could, in fact, build a new energy economy. We didn't exactly start as raging pessimists.
As our work progressed, however, a curious problem developed— we could not keep up with the pace of innovation, even the innovation taking place during the year this book was being written. Every other day seemed to bring another phone call from another new business on the cutting edge of energy with some new approach to some old problem. Our chapters had to be rewritten several times in an effort to keep pace with the multiple geniuses we encountered. The pace of bad news about global warming most certainly accelerated, increasing our sense of urgency. It was met, fortunately, by the pace of good news about innovation. As the crisis became more urgent, the solutions became more identifiable, and political momentum began to gather.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface, they were confronted with a perplexing and troublesome phenomenon, the power of the lunar shadow. Shadows on earth are just a modest reduction in the light subject to a shadow. On the moon, they are inky black voids because there is virtually nothing in the atmosphere to scatter light back into the area of the shadow.
But in time their eyes adjusted, and they were successful in their mission. Armstrong reported to Houston, "It is very easy to see in the shadows after you adapt for a while." Our current vision of what a new energy world looks like will need some period of adaptation. We will adapt, however, by following those astronauts' footsteps. America is not a country destined to stay in the shadows of ancient energy. We are poised to lead the world into a brighter future.
Our country is not one to shirk from bold challenges. The last man to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan, described the original Apollo Project with justified pride: "It was probably the greatest singular human endeavor, certainly in modern times, maybe in the history of all mankind."1 The new Apollo Project may be of even greater import. It will create an energy system that allows life to continue on this planet as we know it. Wouldn't that be in the same league?
The Apollo astronauts all shared one indelible memory, one almost divine image, the stunning spectacle of the planet Earth suspended alone in the heavens, a warm blue planet amid the emptiness of space. Those who saw the blue home planet through the Plexiglas of an Apollo capsule all came home with a visceral understanding of its uniqueness and the need to keep it healthy. Now we are ready to embark on a new adventure dedicated to caring for the thin tissue of atmosphere embracing that blue orb.
Our belief in our ability to accomplish this feat is intuitive, instinctive, and immediate, but it is grounded in a sober assessment of the stakes and opportunities before us. Just after Kennedy made his pronouncement to Congress that America was going to the moon in ten years, NASA administrator James Webb turned to his assistant Bob
Gilruth and asked with honesty, "Bob, can we do this?" Bob answered without a second's hesitation, "Yes. Absolutely! We have to."
Can we capture Apollo's fire and revolutionize the world of energy? Yes, absolutely. We have to.
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