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MR. BROKAW: I don't think anyone doubts that we have to make some profound changes in this country and make some tough decisions and maybe even suffer some pain, but let's talk about the cost. This is your own group in terms of describing what this may cost. The numbers are from $1 1/2 trillion to $3 trillion as an estimate. Where does that money come from for a new president who is facing a $400 billion deficit, has two wars going on, needs an economic stimulus if it's a Democrat, as Obama has outlined--we have a housing crisis in this country--and probably diminished tax revenues?
VICE PRES. GORE: Well, those, those are not all public funds. That's the total private and public investment, which is comparable to what we would spend over that same period of time if we continued to rely on coal and oil, which is rising so rapidly in price. It's less than the cost of the Iraq war, according to Joe Stiglitz and some other economists, and it is an investment.
MR. BROKAW: We haven't spent that much on the Iraq war, but we've spent a lot of money.
VICE PRES. GORE: Well, if you--well, Joe Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, estimates the all-in cost of the Iraq war as more than that total. But, but, in any case, when you talk about a large strategic initiative of this kind, whichever direction we take, it's going to cost a lot of money. But, in this case, the investment would be paid back many times over and we could get the equivalent of dollar a gallon gasoline for cars as we switch toward an electric fleet.
MR. BROKAW: What would electricity cost in terms of the transition while it's under way? Most estimates are that it would cost a lot more money, and that would have a devastating effect on Main Street and especially on rural America.
VICE PRES. GORE: Well, I, I don't agree with that, and I think that the devastating effect on Main Street and the rest of the country is coming from the present rising costs for electricity. And the reason why is China and the other emerging economies again are bidding up the price of every lump of coal and every drop of oil, and the new discoveries have been declining, so the estimates are now that these price increases are likely to continue until we stop just taking baby steps and offering gimmicks and, instead, have a strategic initiative.
Now, Tom, among other things, you are the biographer of the, of the greatest generation, and, at the beginning of that period when they rose to that challenge, there were a lot of people who said that couldn't be done. We couldn't make these hundreds of thousands of airplanes, we couldn't mobilize to win that struggle. And yet we did. The only limiting factor here is political will. This climate crisis is threatening our country, threatening all of human civilization. I know that sounds shrill, and I know people don't like to, to hear phrases like that, but it is the reality. We have to awaken to it, and we have to mobilize to confront it.