Can we undergo an energy conversion?

AOL News carried this editorial I wrote …
(July 12) — The Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe has become the first defining moment of Barack Obama’s presidency — and not just because of the disaster’s enormity or his administration’s response. Rather, this has been the first real test of whether Obama is simply a very accomplished politician — or something greater.
To be an effective president, you must, of course, be a very good politician. But to be a great president — the kind they erect monuments to (or at least name an airport after) — requires something more than counting votes and working the phones. It requires an ability to challenge and inspire others to see possibilities that they otherwise could not. You might say it requires the ability to kindle faith.

It’s only been about 100 years or so that our nation has been under the spell of a seemingly inexhaustible source of cheap but dirty energy. But somehow, like an addict who can’t imagine living without his fix, we’ve become unable to imagine our world without it. But imagine we must, because that is the inescapable reality of our future.
Obama knows this. In his first-ever Oval Office address, he called on Congress to pass a climate and energy bill. A good start. But is that all? Does he think we have more confidence in Congress to provide bold leadership than we have in him? Wouldn’t it make sense for the president, aided by the best minds and imaginations America has to offer, to lead Congress, and our nation, in a bold, historic endeavor?
Nobody could blame the president if he has become worn down by the portfolio of crises he inherited. It’s easy to imagine him putting his head down and simply perfecting the art of presidential management.
But we need moral and spiritual leadership. We need to come out of denial. We need to get into a recovery from our long-term addiction to cheap but dirty energy. That requires a kind of conversion. Yes, scientists have a role at this critical moment, of course, as do economists, politicians and policymakers.
But without a moral summons uttered with true moral passion and authority, we’ll be no more successful at stopping our addiction than BP has been at stopping the gush of oil.
What if we were to respond to the tragedy taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, and to the many other disastrous consequences of our addiction to dirty energy, with the same level of urgency and commitment that our nation displayed in restructuring the economy virtually overnight to meet the challenge of World War II? What if Obama were to make a pledge as bold as JFK’s declaration that we would reach the moon before the end of a decade? What if this were President Obama’s truly defining moment?
If we make the commitment right now, then within 20 years — a single generation — we could be free from oil and all the ills it brings to our economy, our health, our environment and our climate. Instead, we could be running on clean-energy technologies, working in green jobs and living off clean corporate profits. What a gift to future generations that would be!
Making it happen will demand creativity, money and education. It will require an unprecedented investment in research and development and an innovative government-business partnership (the kind the Japanese and Koreans pioneered in jump-starting their auto industries). Ultimately, it will mean imagining a different America, and a new American economy based on clean energy, not dirty energy.
But before all that, it will require faith.
Obama needs to have faith that he can inspire this nation he leads — that he can be more than an effective president.
Congress needs to have faith that doing what is right for our children and our grandchildren should take precedence over the demands of campaign contributors and special interests.
And Americans need faith that, once again, we can accomplish what might seem impossible — for with faith “all things are possible.”
Mr. President, if you set the bar high, if you issue the right challenge, you’ll find us fired up and ready to go. Are you ready to make it?