Al Gore's Great Leap Backward.

Vincent Carroll at the Rocky Mountain News attacks Al Gore's latest proposal on electric power:

He's a former vice president of the United States, Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author, so the lavish news coverage of Al Gore's latest brainstorm was inevitable. Less understandable is why an idea so irresponsible — in economic terms, in fact, just this side of deranged — attracted so little ridicule.

Gore proposed last week that the United States "commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years." Not just all new electricity, mind you, which would be challenging enough. But all existing electricity, too.

This would of course require utilities to mothball hundreds of existing power plants as they launched a crash construction program of solar plants, wind farms and transmission lines costing hundreds of billions and perhaps trillions of dollars. (To put this in perspective, T. Boone Pickens, another fellow who's caught the wind-power bug, claims on his Web site, "Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20 percent of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.") . . .

He'd inflict monumental utility price hikes on consumers who'd pay for both the shutdown of old plants and construction of the new - with who knows what economic fallout. . . . Stanley Lewandowski, the general manager of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, is one of the few utility officials willing to suggest that the prophet of global warming is strutting about like an emperor without his clothes. "Al Gore's statement of obtaining 100 percent of our power from renewables in 10 years has as much a chance of happening as the sun shining 24 hours a day," Lewandowski quipped. "It's nonsense."

Yet revealing. The idea reflects a shocking indifference to the possible fragility of an economy subjected to a force-fed "transformative" (Gore's word) experience. History rarely is kind to such ambitions, with the most catastrophic example occurring 50 years [ago] in China. That's when Mao Zedong launched his Great Leap Forward — the hare-brained effort to transform that nation into an industrial power within a few years by, among other things, dotting the landscape with backyard furnaces to make steel.