U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Global Warming Is the Greatest Challenge Facing Science”

During his keynote address at the Asia Society Washington, D.C. center awards dinner, where he was honored for his efforts on climate change, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said “climate change is the greatest challenge facing science.” Chu added that we must all “understand the challenge of containing climate change.” Introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, California, who mentioned the need for a “three-dimensional (cultural, economic, and political) engagement between the U.S. and Asia,” Chu said that the U.S. “innovation machine” can create the scientific knowledge and tools needed to fight climate change (if the right policies are set). 

However, the difficult part will be spreading that valuable scientific knowledge, as well as those tools, across national boundaries. In the case of energy-efficient buildings, Chu argued local knowledge drives local building development, and needs to be updated to ensure best practices in energy-efficient buildings quickly go global. “Buildings are local. We don’t ship buildings to Denmark.” He described the type of knowledge needed for creating energy-efficient buildings as a sort of “hands-on,” practitioner’s knowledge –“it’s like a gardener’s craft or like those who know how to cook well.” Still, he thinks it is possible to “teach each other how to capture carbon, how to create more energy-efficient buildings.” To those who argue that any intellectual property (IP) transferred overseas should be protected, Chu added “it’s not about intellectual property (IP), it’s about people.” He also argued that the case for energy efficient buildings is economic — highly energy-efficient buildings can reduce current energy consumption by four-to-five times, putting “more money into people’s pockets.”

Climate change is an international problem, and “we need to get to a sustainable energy world.” Chu argued that young people will be key to this effort. He urged young people to tell their parents: “If you care about me, don’t give me a world that will heat up by four-to-five degrees.”

In related news, new research from Nicholas Stern, and other climate scholars, argues that today’s atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are already high enough to cause a global increase in temperature of between 2 and 2.4 degrees celsius. According to Der Spiegel, the research argues that “drastic and immediate” emissions reductions would be “impossible, and “an overshoot of the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations needed to constrain global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is thus inevitable.” The paper argues that the world must begin to set adaptation plans for a three-to-five temperature increases, while continuing to mitigate Co2 emissions. Read the article

3 thoughts on “U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Global Warming Is the Greatest Challenge Facing Science”

  1. Dan Pangburn 06/23/2009 / 11:47 am

    James Hansen misapplied ‘feedback’ in his 1984 paper. That error has been propagated throughout the Climate Science community and has contributed substantially to the Global Warming Mistake. Those who understand ALL of the relevant science know that added atmospheric carbon dioxide does not significantly increase average global temperature. The issue exists because Climate Scientists appear to be unaware of the science that disproves AGW (it is not in their curriculum). Find out more from the pdfs that can be accessed at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true .

    Cost effective improvement in efficiency is just common sense and doesn’t need any government regulation.

  2. Tom Fortner 10/05/2009 / 1:35 pm

    I read Dan Pangburn’s article at http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/pangburn.html, the short entry above, and hundreds of climate change articles including the one referenced by him above. To state it simply, scientists overwhelmingly agree that the data show there is a very strong correlation coefficient between increasing CO2 levels and higher average climate temperatures over time. Clearly, with something as complex as global climate, for relatively short periods of time, CO2 levels may increase while temperatures fall, but looking at the trends over long periods of time and even most short ones (e.g. since the Industrial Revolution), it is obvious even to those of us who are not trained climate scientists that increasing levels of CO2 and higher temperatures go hand in hand.

  3. Dan Pangburn 12/19/2010 / 10:15 am

    Tom, Perhaps you should look again.

    From 2001 through October, 2010 the atmospheric CO2 increased by 21.8% of the total increase from 1800 to 2001 while the average global temperature has not increased significantly and the trend of the average of the five reporting agencies from 2001 through 2009 is actually down. The 21.8% CO2 increase is the significant measurement, not the comparatively brief time period.


    The contribution of atmospheric carbon dioxide is between small and insignificant. The time-integral of sunspot numbers and effective sea surface temperature are the main contributors.

    A simple equation, with inputs of accepted measurements from government agencies, calculates the average global temperatures since 1895 with 88% accuracy (87.6% if CO2 is assumed to have no influence). See the equation, links to the source data, an eye-opening graph of the results and how they are derived in the pdfs at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true (see especially the pdfs made public on 4/10/10 and 6/27/10).

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