Monday, September 25, 2006
At a press reception for his Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton prepared to depart. A handful of journalists gathered at the bottom of the stairs, including yours truly.
I simply introduced myself to Mr. Clinton and mentioned that Mr. Murdoch was participating in the Initiative (as were Laura Bush, Bill Gates and many others). Mr. Clinton noted that Mr. Murdoch was working with him on "climate change."
That was enough for him to jump fully into an exploration of that issue. What is below is verbatim, except for some minor linguistic edits (and figuring out appropriate paragraph breaks). The only thing this reporter said during this outpouring of details was, "Oh right, Woking..." about two-thirds of the way through.
Otherwise, this was full, unvarnished William Jefferson Clinton (Links are added only for further reference -- not to denote agreement with the individual or item to which Mr. Clinton makes note. Furthermore, this is not an endorsement of anything Mr. Clinton said, but is included here for the historical record):
Thirty-two of the forty biggest cities in the world joined this. But it's really something every conservative ought to be for because our whole deal is we're trying to prove that you can have a market-based response to this that cuts costs, increases profits, reduces greenhouse gases and generates jobs. And if you reduce your reliance on foreign energy, you also improve the national security of the country.
So that's why it's the perfect issue to bring the left and the right together if you really think of it in terms of how it is done. There are a lot of conservative petroleum geologists who don't agree with the Saudis and Exxon that we got a 100 years of oil left. There are an increasing number of petroleum geologists who think that the recoverable oil resources may be more in the range of 35-50 years.
Now, if there is an economical way to import and use less oil, we're foolish not to do it, because it will be almost impossible to take civilization around the world -- and the United States -- off an oil platform within 35 years. But we could be into a hydrogen economy within 75 years.
So this is an issue in which we ought to all just sort of look at the evidence and follow the reason, because there is a confluence here of economic opportunity, environmental responsibility and national security if we do it well.
Doing it with the cities makes sense because, while 70 percent-plus of our oil is used in transportation, it is only about a third of our greenhouse gas emissions. About a third is in electricity generation, manufacturing, about a third is in buildings. So, in the aggregate, of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, 75 percent comes from urban areas. So if we can prove that we can have substantial reductions in these larger cities in the world -- as I said, we have 32 of the 40 biggest in our consortium already -- then, obviously, every smaller place can do the same thing.
There's a little village in England -- since you guys have ties to the British press -- you oughta see if you've ever done anything on it. It's called Woking -- W-O-K-I-NG; it's about 20 miles from London. They reduced their greenhouse emissions by 77 percent. And the guy who did it is an Englishman named Allan Jones who has now been hired by the city of London to help to see if it can be done on a grand scale.
But anyway, what I'm trying to do is to find ways that enable us all to do stuff together that actually has an indisputable benefit.
And if you believe in the so-called Precautionary Principle -- you got a guy like Matthew Simmons, who was a big supporter of all the Bushes [garbled]-- he believes we have 35 years of recoverable oil. OK, so you got the Saudis and Exxon saying its 100 and almost everybody else somewhere in between. But in the 35-50 year category, there are growing numbers of people and they're not all Greenpeace guys.
There IS a guy who wrote a book called The Empty Tank, who used to be a petroleum geologist for a petroleum company, who actually went to work for Greenpeace because his companies made fun of him for his honest scientific analyses. So, he didn't convert and then change his analyses; he had his analyses and converted. Now you've got more and more petroleum companies looking at it. That's why BP and Shell and lot of these others are taking a different look.
You know, I'm excited about it. But I'm grateful to Rupert Murdoch for doing this. And I'm grateful that we're able to not make it just another Left-Right fight. This is something that we have no chance of dealing with in an appropriate fashion unless we can build a broad-based core.
Post-script: The only previous time I can recall being in the presence of a poltician with such a grasp of disparate facts and minutiae -- and having the ability to extemporaneously share them for an extended period of time -- was when it was my former boss.
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