Nobel Laureate Steven Chu: #1 Problem Is Climate Change

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Telling it like it is, in this Climate Progress repost, outgoing Energy Secretary and Nobel laureate Steven Chu discusses the #1 problem society faces today: climate change.

By Joe Romm

steven chuDr. Ernest Moniz was sworn in as the new Energy Secretary this week. Last week, the previous Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu, gave an interview to Stanford where he is returning as a physics professor.

The Nobel laureate was asked “What’s the No. 1 problem on your list?” His answer:

Climate change. We’re heading into an era where if we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to be fundamentally in really deep trouble. We’re already in trouble. So we have to transition to better solutions.

We’re not too far away from producing a lot of renewable energy, and doing it cheaply. Solar power is going to become cheaper and cheaper – costs have plummeted three-fold in six years, partly because of the dropping price of modules and electronics. Wind energy is within 15 percent of the cost of new natural gas energy, and the DOE predicts that that cost will cross over within one or two decades, so we need to start to plan the transition system that can conduct more wind energy.

But right now, we’re not prepared. As technology continues to race forward – battery technology has advanced faster in the past five years than what I’ve seen in the [previous] 15 years – we need policy to guide and anticipate development. It takes decades to change things like infrastructure, and so people have to think about that today. Otherwise, progress slows down, and we emit more carbon and get into more trouble environmentally.

Back in 2009, Chu said “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.”

Chu did keep talking about climate change in the past 4 years, but neither the media nor the White House were paying much attention. And so we are “already in trouble” with much, much worse to come if we don’t act now.


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