Monday, August 17, 2009

Will Americans Believe a Scientist?

The August 24th issue of TIME features a story on the USA’s new Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, Steven Chu. The article, entitled “The Political Scientist”, profiles the Nobel-winning scientist and gives a thorough description of the uphill battle Mr. Chu has to look forward to concerning his plans to reduce energy consumption and decrease green house gas emissions in an effort to battle climate change.

In the past, the Secretary of Energy has been a “political loyalist”. Nothing makes this more evident than Ronald Reagan’s appointment of a Dentist to the post. Obama’s appointment of a Scientist to the position is a break from the typical political tradition and a sign that the current administration is serious about combating climate change.

But are the American people? Americans ranked global warming last in a national survey of 20 top priorities, in contrast to 94% of Chinese. Many republican leaders flat out deny global warming while on the other side of the aisle, many democrats from coal, oil and farm states are acting against robust energy change.

Steven Chu won his Nobel-prize for his ground breaking results in the laboratory working with super-cooled atoms. He then switched his focus to global warming when he discovered it would emerge as the world’s next great challenge. When asked about the “earth-is-cooling” argument, the DOE Secretary wiped out a chart of the top ten hottest years. All ten of which have been in the past twelve years. He points to the post-1998 blip as the “proof” which most skeptics use to claim the world must be cooling. “You Know, it’s totally irresponsible. You’re not supposed to make up facts!” He said.

Read the article here. It is one of the better articles I have read in the past couple of days. But remember, more important than agreeing on the “why” (whether it be climate change, resource depletion, stimulating the economy), we need to agree on what we plan to do about. The impacts of climate change, a world running out of resources, a rainforest under attack, and an economy in need of a brand-new (green) industry all require the same thing: ACTION.

Further reading at McKinsey & Company

1 comment:

  1. That's also why we like your president..

    But the problem also remains in the different lobbies, I'm not sure they will stop using their influence for the good of the planet.

    When oil groups will stop buying the patents of clean energy technologies to impede their development from competitors for fear of reduction of the demand for oil? Acting ethically does not seem to be a concern to them whereas they are responsible for change too.

    The question is : should we and can regulate that??