Former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore personally thanked the University of Marylandin a live webcast last night for gathering the most students to watch his address on voting and energy policy to hundreds of campuses nationwide.
More than 100 students of about 200 RSVPs showed up to the "Blood, Guts and (Al) Gore" party, as environmental groups kicked off the last week of collecting pledges for Power Vote, a campaign that urges young people to vote for the candidate who has the best energy policy.
Gore challenged the nation to accomplish 100-percent clean electricity in 10 years. Clean energy group leaders told party-goers they could make a difference and must hold leaders accountable to create green jobs and clean energy sources.
"It's up to us," urged Ali Adler, Clean Energy for UMD's campaign director. "Why should we wait? Our impatience is a virtue."
Gore symbolizes the clean-energy movement to many of the students in attendance, some of whom were in costume, from jesters to a body suit decked with coins and a sign reading "Change".
Senior English major Henry Mills said he was inspired by the former vice president.
"We can all be Al Gores, every one of us," he said. "What isn't possible?"
The event also featured guest speaker State Sen. Paul Pinsky. Gore praised the young for leading the nation in fighting climate change.
"Business as usual is unacceptable as far as energy policy is concerned," he said.
Energy Action Coalition Executive Director Jessy Tolkan asked Gore questions from students, including one from Andrew Nazdin, a senior government and politics major and campaign director of Maryland Students Climate Coalition, that asked Gore what he thought the best solutions for America's energy problem were.
Gore said efficiency in conservation, from plug-in cars to greener buildings, is clearly a top priority, followed by heavy investment in renewable energy and a nationwide smart grid to run the country on solar power from the southwestern deserts and wind power from the plains. Gore said it would cost $400 billion over the next 10 years to accomplish these goals.
"That much money is being spent at the drop of a hat in the bailout," he said. "And it would more than pay for itself in three-and-a-half years."
Nazdin was relatively satisfied with Gore's response, but wanted more.
"It was a pretty good answer, but I'd really like to see him talk more about coal," he said. "There really isn't anything clean about coal, yet both parties support it. From the ground to when it is burned, it's just a filthy energy source."
After party-goers trickled out of the Stamp Student Union, energy activists stayed behind to dorm storm North Campus halls in an effort to mobilize their peers behind the Power Vote campaign. Later this week, they will call the 2,328 students and counting who have signed the pledge to remind them to vote for whichever candidate they feel most supports clean energy.
But voting is to the political process what recycling is to climate change, Adler told the crowd - a necessary but small step.
"We can't get just active once every four years," she said.