Chu Resigns, Writes Of Our ‘Moral Responsibility’ For Action Amid Growing Evidence We’re Making Weather More Extreme

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"Chu Resigns, Writes Of Our ‘Moral Responsibility’ For Action Amid Growing Evidence We’re Making Weather More Extreme"

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced his resignation today. He sent out a remarkable letter to Energy Department employees.

Given that he has not spoken out strongly on the climate crisis since the start of his term, his words on the subject are striking. Here are some excerpts:

  • The average temperature of our planet is rising, with majority of the temperature increase occurring in the last thirty years. During the three decades from 1980 to 2011, the number of violent storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, as tabulated by the reinsurance company Munich Re, has increased more than three-fold. They also estimate that the financial losses follow a trend line that has gone from $40 billion to $170 billion dollars per year. Most of those losses were not insured, and the country suffering the largest losses by far is the United States.  As the President said in his recent Inaugural Address, “some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
  • The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity has had a significant and likely dominant role in climate change. There is also increasingly compelling evidence that the weather changes we have witnessed during this thirty year time period are due to climate change.
  • Virtually all of the other OECD countries, and most developing countries including China, India, Mexico, and Brazil have accepted the judgment of climate scientists.
  • … China now exceeds the U.S. in internal deployment of clean energy and in government investments to further develop the technologies.
  • … the risks we run if we don’t change our course are enormous. Prudent risk management does not equate uncertainty with inaction….
  • The cost of renewable energy is rapidly becoming competitive with other sources of energy, and the Department has played a significant role in accelerating the transition to affordable, accessible and sustainable energy.
  • Ultimately we have a moral responsibility to the most innocent victims of adverse climate change. Those who will suffer the most are the people who are the most innocent: the world’s poorest citizens and those yet to be born. There is an ancient Native American saying: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” A few short decades later, we don’t want our children to ask, “What were our parents thinking? Didn’t they care about us?”

Chu has been an excellent Secretary of Energy, overseeing a near doubling of U.S. renewable energy capacity and a huge jump in clean energy R&D. You can see a comprehensive list of what has been achieved during Chu’s term in his letter.

My main disappointment with his tenure is that after beginning with such refreshing bluntness on the threat posed  by unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions — see Steven Chu on climate change (2/09): “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California”– he was effectively muzzled by the White House.

But that was doubtless not his choice. Team Obama obviously didn’t want him or science advisor John Holdren — or anybody else, for that matter — speaking out strongly on the gravest preventable threat to modern human civilization (see “Team Obama Launched The Inane Strategy Of Downplaying Climate Change Back In March 2009“).

Chu will be missed.

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99 Responses to Chu Resigns, Writes Of Our ‘Moral Responsibility’ For Action Amid Growing Evidence We’re Making Weather More Extreme

  1. kathy roach says:

    I am sad that Dr. Chu is leaving, but I totally understand. I’m hoping that he can have greater effect now. His statement about
    “…the risks we run if we don’t change our course are enormous. Prudent risk management does not equate uncertainty with inaction…” is so true, and all the obfuscation over these many years in the main media now leave the US behind the curve…and doesn’t excuse the fact we should have been taking risk mitigation measures at least 10 years ago.

  2. Sasparilla says:

    Such a bummer, besides Holdren he’s the other guy I desperately did not want to see leave…someone who could understand the science behind everything he was guiding….I was hoping all the rumors of his leaving were not correct (since so much time had passed).

    Chu also saw the necessity of getting plugin tech up and working (and the folly of hydrogen) – which he did very well.

    Thank you Steven, as Joe said, you will be missed greatly – now another test on climate change and plugin tech will be awaiting the Obama Administration (who will they put in his place?). There will be a lot of powers that will want a good ol’ fossil fuel boy/girl in there.

  3. Tony Weddle says:

    You say Chu will be missed, but what is the underlying message he gives out? It is that so-called clean energies, as he envisages them, are sustainable sources. It is that a switch to those energies can somehow maintain the consumer lifestyle that has engulfed the US and other “civilised” nations. These are delusional messages. As he never spoke out about the realities of living on a finite planet or the climate predicament, I will miss him no more than I’d miss any politician.

    • Delusional because there is no knowledge. Honest technology assessment maintained in publicly accessible database at DOE would be an improvement over the conventional grant process that has led to him, in his letter, being so proud of getting to second base in a program (ARPA-E) that was supposed to hit home runs.

      • Mark E says:

        Although I support your database idea, Tony correctly says it is delusional to think 100% clean tech can sustain our way of life – and we already have all the knowledge we need to know this is undeniable:

        (1) Basic economics – capitalism REQUIRES nonstop growth – forever. And after that, even more growth.

        (2) Basic math – exponential growth

        (3) Basic common sense – Four Laws of Ecology

        In short, we should definitely deploy deploy deploy all the climate wedges we can…. but it is indeed delusional to claim this will allow our consumerist way of life to continue, because nothing grows, nonstop, forever, and there ain’t no such thing as steady-state consumerism.

    • Jay Alt says:

      The amount of renewable energy needed in the future is not a set amount, it depends on future policies. Regardless of those policies, RE will be desperately needed. Chu has set the table for that transition.
      Right now, most of our citizens can’t wrap their minds around all of what will be needed. But future citizens will appreciate his efforts even though the armchair quarterbacks here cannot.

      • Mark E says:

        I never said otherwise; quite the contrary. What I did say that his excellent renewable energy work will eventually be erased if we insist on trying to grow the economy, nonstop – forever. No amount clean energy will matter a damn if we keep trying to grow…. grow more than that…. to that result add still more… then grow beyond that…. and absurdly assume that the solution to this growth addiction can be put off while we stop CO2. The two problems are the same problem. It just wasn’t in Chu’s job description to talk about the economic-growth-addiction face of global warming. But we gotta talk about, or ultimately we won’t solve either problem.

      • Tony Weddle says:

        What renewable energy we need was not even thought about by Chu (or many others, to be fair), who was more concerned with what renewable energy we want in order to replace fossil fuels, without altering lifestyles. As a scientist, I’d hoped Chu would examine his basic assumptions and be aware of the underlying realities associated with living on a finite planet.

        Our species has existed for a couple of hundred thousand years with very little renewable energy (basically, that which was captured by plants). Of course, few people want to return to hunting and gathering but that is certainly on the cards (for those that remain) if we don’t stop dreaming of a renewable high tech future where so-called progress continues unabated.

  4. M Tucker says:

    It isn’t really muzzling. Chu has spoken several times since in office about how he sees US energy policy. He has spoken about the importance of US energy independence specifically in regard to more development of fossil fuels including coal. He has taken the position that natural gas is a wonderful transition fuel. He is a carbon capture advocate. He is in love with technology eventually solving our problems even if it takes 50 more years.

    “We need to develop the technologies that enable us to use our fossil fuels in a clean way,” Secretary of Energy Steven Chu told ScientificAmerican.com at the conference. “This is something you don’t solve in five years, 10 years. It will take a half century to get our carbon emissions down to where we need to go to protect the climate.” At the same time, the U.S. will require a steady supply of electricity which, today, means coal burning or nuclear power, Chu said. (from SciAm article 3/9/10)

    He has been Obama’s “all of the above” advocate. I don’t think the government can invest in biofuels, and batteries, and subsidize wind and solar, and build carbon capture technologies, and keep up with the accelerator and collider programs Chu hopes to go back to. But Chu has made his bed and now he has to lie in it.

    • Superman1 says:

      ““This is something you don’t solve in five years, 10 years. It will take a half century to get our carbon emissions down to where we need to go to protect the climate.””

      If Anderson is correct about what we need, and Chu’s response represents that of the Administration, game over!

    • Jim McKay says:

      “It isn’t really muzzling.”

      With all due respect, I think BO & Co. have muzzled him. Joe gave examples.

      In short, your quotes from Chu are accurate. And, taking a hard look at his carrear, there is consistent thread of both realization/awareness, anc commitment to bringing forth meaningful alternatives… all of which he has espoused for decades.

      He was muzzled, because… despite increase in renewable investment/infrasturcture cited during BO’s “reign”, given totality of US energy use & consumption, that increase is little more then a token.

      Obama has chosen to use Chu much like Bush used Collin Powell: as a caricature put before the public for convenience, used as a symbol implying a commitment to what Chu (or Powell() stood for/believed, while executing policy guaranteeing more or less a continuation of what he inherited. BO, simply… has not put his butt on the line, in these matters.

      Same thing, BTW, which BO did as his response to the :”financial crisis”: eg. refinance the same corrupt self-interested minority which created that mess in the first place.

      In larger picture, considering all this stuff… not so hard to see why the US is broke, w/our political leaders bickering about who/what gets cut out of budget considerations. Yet, all the while, virtually no serious discussion whatsoever, about what can be done going forward, about all the money wasted on “oil wars” (Iraq was one… Exxon got those Iraqi oil field development contracts just 6 months ago) and conisderation of money spent on those “events” (all the military spending, weapons etc.) as part of calculus to determine what we, as a nation, pay for our energy.

      Then the very small (as portion of the population, and larger biz community) reap such a great portion of US GDP from maintaining this antiquated hamster-wheel energy infrastructure that, through political “giving” and media, they control the public conversation…. convincing the massive un-represented majority the well proven alternatives in energy, do not work.

      We (US esplecailly) are simply in a largely deja-vu groundhog day feeback loop, pretending that minimal scientific knowledge of oil development years going back over a century, dominate and “cancel out” the masive and effectual increase and mastery of collective human knowledge worldwide… rendering potential for manifesting that knowledge effectively, as “pseudo science” and such.

      Pretty damn foolish.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The fault lies in the make-up of the ruling US elites. They are selected by the political process, ie by how much plutocratic money they can raise to run for office, to be as morally insane as the money power. Game over, if not now, through climate destabilisation, then later, by means of global war or some other disaster. Picking a fight with the Klingons, perhaps.

  5. Superman1 says:

    “Team Obama obviously didn’t want him or science advisor John Holdren — or anybody else, for that matter — speaking out strongly on the gravest preventable threat to modern human civilization”

    McPherson’s take on the President’s attitude toward climate change: “In other words, Obama and others in his administration knew near-term extinction of humans was already guaranteed. Even before the dire feedbacks were reported by the scientific community, the Obama administration abandoned climate change as a significant issue because it knew we were done as early as 2009. Rather than shoulder the unenviable task of truth-teller, Obama did as his imperial higher-ups demanded: He lied about collapse, and he lied about climate change. And he still does.”

    • Joe Romm says:

      Tin-foil hat stuff. Area 51? Moon-landing hoax? That is the nuttiest theory I have EVER heard — and I used to read denier blogs!

      • Superman1 says:

        Joe Romm,

        I am trying to understand the complete disconnect I see between the seriousness of the climate change problem, and the President’s (and Congress’) lack of response on this issue. Lack of response would be consistent with 1) the problem is not as dire as we have been led to believe and need not be addressed today or 2) we have gone over the climate cliff, and there is no point getting the electorate aroused and agitated over a hopeless situation. I don’t believe the former is true, so for me, the latter is a possible explanation. If the situation were closer to what many of us believe is the case, which is along the lines of what Kevin
        Anderson expounds, then one would expect Pearl Harbor or Cuban Missile-type speeches on a frequent basis from the President. You may argue that he’s not doing this level of action because of political considerations, but I have real problems with that explanation. While he may not have the political support to do anything effective on paper, he certainly can use the bully pulpit to sensitize the American public to the seriousness of the situation, and set the stage for serious action if needed. Second, he is the Father of two young daughters, and they will be impacted throughout the latter half of their lives (at a minimum) if we continue along our present path. Every day he delays any action makes the situation more dire for his daughters.

        So, how does one explain the disconnect? McPherson believe we have gone over the cliff already, and for him, the President’s lack of response is equivalent to a Doctor not wanting to tell a patient that his condition is terminal. Lewis Cleverdon on these pages presents a theory of Brinksmanship of Inaction with China to explain the past two Administrations’ dealing with the problem. I can’t rule out McPherson’s views or explanations for inaction because I don’t see the climate models with feedbacks that would give some tangible basis for disagreement. So, how do you explain the complete disconnect?

        • Joe Romm says:

          Political craven-ness. For your conspiracy to be true, it would have to involve the entire media, intelligentsia, and political establishment (in the U.S. and many other countries). It is black helicopter stuff, literally!

          • Superman1 says:

            I find it very plausible that no leader of any government would want to deliver news of hopelessness to the electorate, if that is indeed the case. I find it less plausible that all the Administration and 535 members of Congress would delay, for political reasons, whatever preventive action they could instigate to insure their children and grandchildren didn’t suffer needlessly from climate change.

          • SecularAnimist says:

            Joe, please keep in mind that in comments posted on other threads here, “Superman1″ has accused climate scientists of deliberately falsifying their work to downplay the danger of climate change — for money.

          • Superman1 says:

            Secular Animist,

            I don’t mind honest criticism. Using outright distortion to influence the audience here is not acceptable.

      • Mark E says:

        I agree with Joe. Applying Occam’s Razor,

        1. The presidency revolves around making the (capitalist, delusionally growth-addicted) economy tick;

        2. More than anything else, the economy is function of social psychology;

        3. Obama believes that the solutions to global warming will be built by a strong (capitalist, delusionally growth-addicted) economy

        4. When he was sworn in, the economy was on the brink of a worse-than-1920s collapse. It was circling the drain at the bottom of a long convex-shaped funnel.

        Obama has pulled us back to a slippery slope, but we’re not out of the woods yet. However, when the sides of the funnel were almost vertical – when his first term started – Obama correctly saw that the social psychology of the economy would implode if subjected to true climate speech.

        In short, he has two choices: (1) wait until hardship makes the people scream for action, or (2) wait until the people feel secure enough to hear the truth.

        In short: I think he really believed true climate speech in his first term would have immobilized us psychologically, thereby rendering the (capitalist, delusionally growth-addicted) economy incapable of any action at all.

    • EDpeak says:

      Superman1, while I came to the defence of another statement you made just the other day (that governments are able to influence what IPCC is able to speak out about) I must disagree with

      “In other words, Obama and others in his administration knew near-term extinction of humans was already guaranteed. Even before the dire feedbacks were reported by the scientific community, the Obama administration abandoned climate change as a significant issue because it knew we were done as early as 2009″

      This falls into an unfortunately common false dichotomy between “we can still save things” and “it’s too late” But reality is not binary. As bad as what’s already “probably unavoidable” is, inaction or accelerated emissions would cause things to be even worse, and more painful. Let’s avoid the false all-or-nothing.

      We must avoid false optimism, but equally, to avoid false dejected fatalism. Again, don’t confuse me with people who think terrible things can be avoided – it’s pretty clear that pretty aweful things cannot be avoided. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t avoid even-“worser” terrible things.

      Our task is to minimize the damage as much as possible, while avoiding being paralized by the depressing reality – this is the courage our time demands of those alive today. Peace.

      • Superman1 says:

        I was quoting McPherson. But, I have never understood why a Father of two young daughters said basically nothing on this topic when time is of the most critical essence. Can you explain that?

        • John McCormick says:

          Superman, I have also found myself coming to your side. This comment was over the top and borders on sensorship.

          • Omega Centauri says:

            To be fair it was a quote he showed us, not necessarily something he believes.

            Now I think the quotation borders on delusional. First off all no scientist believes we’ve crossed an extinction boundary -which I assume that McPherson thinks is a tipping point toward a greenhouse runaway process, like on Venus. But this just isn’t credible. But we do have some pretty serious damage that is going to happen, but how much is still very much to be determined by our future actions.

            The Occam’s razor explanation is more mundane, Obama avoids political battles he might be seen to lose. And all evidence pointed to a climate-bill defeat. So he dropped it like a hot potato.

          • Superman1 says:

            John/Omega,

            I have submitted a detailed response. There are too many inconsistencies between the seriousness of the problem and the apparent lack of response for four years to be brushed aside.

      • Lewis Ceverdon says:

        ERpeak – the quote in question was addressed to me by McPherson two days ago on Grist, in response to my outline of three points he overlooks.
        http://grist.org/climate-energy/colbert-skewers-the-climate-fatalism-caucus/#disqus_thread

        The quote above has been edited possibly to avoid showing its full absurdity – and thus to better hype the defeatism. He used an excerpt from a report to COP15 as the basis of his “in other words” rewriting. Here are two key phrases from his response to me.

        “THE LONG-TERM SEA LEVEL THAT CORRESPONDS TO CURRENT CO2 CONCENTRATION IS ABOUT 23 METERS ABOVE TODAY’S LEVELS . . ”
        “In other words, Obama and others in his administration knew near-term extinction of humans was already guaranteed.”

        His recognition that even radical emissions control
        cannot now avoid many decades of rising AGW driving the feedback interactions into an unmitigable self-reinforcing acceleration,
        alongside his arbitrary dismissal of both modes of Geo-e,
        leave him assuming that terminal defeat is inevitable,
        and hence the entirely nutty presumption that this is the reason for Obama’s inaction.

        It is remarked above that the Occam’s Razor explanation of Obama’s action in suppressing the climate bill is that he was merely avoiding a fight he thought he wouldn’t win. This is patently wrong, in that it demands a host of complex additional explanations of his many other misconducts on climate, and Occam’s Razor is about finding the simplest explanation.

        And the simplest explanation, which covers every bit of Obama’s misconduct in one sentence, is this: Obama was persuaded to adopt Cheyney’s policy of avoiding any significant action on climate until climatic destabilization has ended China’s bid to displace US global economic dominance.

        While I’d agree that we face some inevitable intensifying damages, I’d emphasize the point that if we fail to deploy Geo-E rather rapidly, which would halt further damages, then we’ll allow increasing heat into the oceans and with rising sea-ice loss into the arctic ocean in particular, with predictably terminal feedback consequences.

        Hoping for the best via Emissions-Control-only is a very dead end: with the 100yr residence of CO2 and with 6 out of 7 mega-feedbacks already accelerating under just 0.8C of warming, it cannot not mitigate the outcome. I suspect this is why Joe includes both a Carbon Recovery option and an Albedo Restoration option in his portfolio of Mitigation Wedges.

        Regards,

        Lewis

        • Lewis Ceverdon says:

          EDpeak, sorry for the typo ERpeak. Roll on an edit button.

          L

        • Joe Romm says:

          That isn’t the Occam’s razor explanation, seriously! That is stupidity or craven-ness or both

        • Superman1 says:

          “Occam’s Razor is about finding the simplest explanation.

          And the simplest explanation, which covers every bit of Obama’s misconduct in one sentence, is this: Obama was persuaded to adopt Cheyney’s policy of avoiding any significant action on climate until climatic destabilization has ended China’s bid to displace US global economic dominance.”

          C’mon. The simplest statement is that Obama recognizes he has little public support for any stringent measures that could have an impact, which translates into little political support, and that is why he did not act politically. What I don’t understand is, if we have a chance to avoid the impending catastrophe, why Obama didn’t at least speak out to the electorate, describing the seriousness of the problem. He has two young daughters who will be affected by mid-life if we continue BAU, and in a decade he probably will have grandchildren whose lives may be cut short if we continue BAU. Are we so far over the cliff that he sees no point in announcing it?

          • Lewis Ceverdon says:

            Always with the defeatism – that’s your agenda here on CP isn’t it – so why not just admit it ?

            Obama’s neglected duty to his daughters that you remark is just one of a wide spread of deficiencies in the political cowardice explanation of his failure to build on 70% public support for climate action –
            – meaning that they need multiple additional explanations –
            – meaning that political cowardice is far from the simplest explanation covering his conduct since March 2009.

            And no, we’re not “so far over a cliff” – and unless you really want to be addressed as Tinfoil from now on, you can forget the McPherson delirium of “Obama won’t act ‘cos he knows extinction is guaranteed.”

          • Superman1 says:

            “Always with the defeatism – that’s your agenda here on CP isn’t it – so why not just admit it ?”

            My ‘agenda’ is to search for the truth, wherever that may lead. If we are in an Alice in Wonderland world where Truth is Defeatism and Fantasy is Optimism, that doesn’t say much for our chances of avoiding catastrophe.

          • Superman1 says:

            “and unless you really want to be addressed as Tinfoil from now on,”

            People can call me any names they want. When they have to resort to name-calling and invective, they are formally admitting they have no argument.

          • Joe Romm says:

            That isn’t the simplest explanation. That requires a vast immoral conspiracy akin to black helicopters but far more pernicious. It is NONSENSE, comparable to notion of moon-landing hoax.

      • Jim McKay says:

        “Our task is to minimize the damage as much as possible, while avoiding being paralized by the depressing reality”

        Perhaps. Personally, I am fully persuade that… what is truly possible, is far more optimistic then “minimizing damage” and avoiding “being polarized by the depressing reality”.

        The US is already polarized: that *is* the reality, at least in effectiveness of our current US culture, in these matters.

        As far as “the depressing reality”, well… “depressing” most certainly often seems like the only “survival” response of individuals who make an effort to be informed of these matters. Maybe that’s because… if we really do have a democracy, yet these decisions which guarantee tomorrow’s actions, are being made by only a self interested reality denying few…

        Then perhaps more people need to more seriously re-think what is valued. And, in doing so, bring themselves forth in a manner demonstrating a more unified consensus (democracy!!!) sharing a common vision for what our tomorrows *can* look like.

        I wonder if a 100 million people “strike” for a day or 2, might not get the message to the top 1.5% that, indeed… they may have been entrusted with fruits of everyone else’s labor. But… a demonstration like this (strike) would let the know damn quick that, they are not the “self made” men (people) who have provided the rest of us with all that we have, which we would have been deprived of, otherwise.

        We lack a critical mass of purpose, driven by what’s true in people’s relationship with this rock we live on. Somehow, “envronment” needs to become more real to people as the place we all live in, rather then a secondary mere concept relegated to subservience to very very old ways of doing the same foolish things which got us here.

        Simple example: our forests in US are largely dying. This is (generally) a function of pollutants that go “up” as byproducts from our fossil fuel burning, “ride the wind”… land on trees, make ‘em sick, and prevent them from responding in healthy fashion, w/in the environment full of diminished nutrients, they need.

        Scripps (Google is your friend) did studies in early 90’s, suggesting (these forest realities were well documented way back then… much worse now) , at the pace of altering our atmosphere makeup, the diminished capacity of forests we rely upon to turn our C02 into Oxygen would begin to manifest as an Oxygen deficit on this rock, by 2050.

        The increasing frequency, almost year by year, of larger/hotter/longer lasting (weeks, months…) of these fires is just another canary in the mine, which as a nation, we are twiddling our thumbs through.

    • Rabid Doomsayer says:

      Is it already too late? Possibly, no one can be certain at this stage, but most believe not.

      That it will be bad is a given. But what we need to do to cope with what we know is ahead in many cases is the same as what we need to do to mitigate what is ahead.

      Even if our doom becomes certain I would rather put that doom off as long as possible. We spend millions keeping a single dying old man alive for a few more years, what price for a few decades for all of humanity?

      Keep on as we are and our doom will become certain. Do we want to prove Kurt Vonnegut right? that we were too fat and lazy to do anything about it.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Expressing the opinion that it is too late already (with which I have much sympathy) is a legitimate expression of informed opinion. Well, hopefully it is informed. It simply merits attention and acceptance or rejection according to the facts. To refute it would be reassuring, to acknowledge its possibility could be energising and accepting its truth might not necessarily be demoralising. However, if it is true or not, we must argue with it, not attempt to suppress it.

  6. Martin Gisser says:

    “likely dominant role” — Wimp!

  7. EDpeak says:

    Joe – I hope a resonse on CP soon to http://phys.org/news/2013-01-global-extreme.html reply to research and quote by Caroline Leck

    They even say, “h the 1990s, the increase has levelled off nearly completely at its 2000 level. Ocean warming also appears to have stabilised somewhat, despite the fact that CO2 emissions and other anthropogenic factors thought to contribute to global warming are still on the rise”

    Well gee, I don’t think the laws of physics have a “pause” button so extra GHG will mean warming, particularly oceans where most goes, will continue. But more detailed CP response would help.

    P.S. I suspect history will judge Chu to have done as much, or close to as much, as he could within contraints of working within the belly of the beast called early 21st century corporatized Washington. so Martin, I too winced when he said “likely dominant role” but I’d cut him some slack there. My hope is that he is far more vocal and active after his retirement from service as has been the case with others in many cases.

    • Joe Romm says:

      It’s on my list but it isn’t even peer-reviewed!

    • Joan Savage says:

      Let’s hope the reviewers incorporate the cooling effect of sulfur dioxide release from Chinese burning of coal – which was estimated at 25.49 mT in 2005 alone, more than the 20 mT sulfur dioxide released by the Pinatubo volcano. If China is generating the equivalent of a major volcanic eruption per year, what happens when we add in high sulfur coal burning in India and Indonesia and elsewhere?

      • Lewis Ceverdon says:

        Joan – perhaps you recall a good post by Joe back in 2010 when Hansen & Sato reported their finding that ending our FF burning and thus our maintenance of the cooling Sulphate Parasol would raise realized warming by 110% +/-30%.

        Right now by this assessment, with 0.8C of realized AGW, the Sulphate Parasol thus veils another 0.88C (+/-0.33C), implying a present commitment from just these two factors of around 1.68C.

        What troubles me is the widespread denialism that clings to delusions of the 2.0C ceiling being feasible – with an additional 0.7C timelagged in the pipeline plus at least another 0.6C predictable from a rapid global emissions termination – that is plainly nonsense.

        But what troubles me far more is the slushy denial that pretends that relying solely on Emissions Control and so sailing past 2.0C would not automatically drive the feedbacks into self-reinforcing acceleration, as scientists have warned for over two decades.

        It seems that we have no middle course – 3.0C is not better than 4.0C – it is merely a landmark on the escalator to 5.0C and above.

        – We either apply Albedo Restoration and Carbon Recovery alongside Emissions Control
        – and thereby rapidly restore a global temperature allowing reliable agriculture,
        – and offset the loss of the sulphate parasol,
        – and put the feedbacks back to sleep,
        – and gradually cleanse the atmosphere and oceans of excess carbon –

        – or we see the failure of the emissions-control-only approach with the feedbacks taking global temperature and climate chaos far beyond any agriculture and thus imposing the extinction of our global culture and the present biodiversity.

        Yet Geo-E is no panacea that can wait in the cupboard in case we need it. It is only a window of opportunity and, like the now-defunct emissions-control-only window before it, it is of limited duration. Once sufficient heat energy is spreading through the oceans to trigger a mass-acceleration of the feedbacks, Geo-E would be very unlikely to be effective in their control. And we cannot calculate how much of this window’s duration remains.

        Thus the longer the slushy denial holds sway and precludes the necessary discussion and preparation of Geo-E, the worse our chances of applying it successfully.

        If we’re going to resolve our climate predicament, I think we need to face these facts, here on CP as much as anywhere.

        Regards,

        Lewis

        • Superman1 says:

          “Once sufficient heat energy is spreading through the oceans to trigger a mass-acceleration of the feedbacks,”

          But, doesn’t the paper by Alexeev et al, published a few weeks ago, suggest that we have already passed that point, at least with respect to warming of the Arctic by the Atlantic waters? How would Albedo Restoration address that source of heat?

      • YI!!

        I hadn’t thought of it this way, but we’re already geoengineering the atmosphere. The Chinese are doing it with their sulphur dioxide emissions — more than Pinatubo.

        From Wikipedia:
        “Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F), and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially.[7]”

        We don’t have to wait for some rogue nation start geoengineering — it’s already happening!

  8. lannie says:

    May be an unanswerable question ~ Here goes anyway. When studying the maps generated by the scientific community on drought/water availability. Is there anywhere that is looking good (enough) to survive the coming crisis? Or if you could pull up stakes and move right now where would you go if you could?

    • Sasparilla says:

      I remember reading an article (5 years ago or maybe longer) about a Nasa scientist who, after looking at the situation and reflecting on what to do and moved his family to New Zealand, but I’m not sure how that’s supposed to pan out down there for them (Australia is supposed to be awful).

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        In New Zealand they are beginning to tire of rich Yanks, who have profited from destroying the planet’s habitability for our species, buying up vast tracts of New Zealand as safe-havens for when the proverbial hits the fan. If the Maori decide that they do not like so much of their land being alienated, I’d not expect the refugees to get a warm welcome when they re-locate.

    • That seems both a dice roll and futile. Any extrapolation of current climate trends runs the risk of discontinuity. Any regional climate could change radically and, from the point of view of human habitation, be destroyed. Today’s good farmland could be tomorrow’s swamp or desert.

      But say you guessed right, and landed someplace the climate was less harsh to. What would you have then? You’ve already said it yourself: survival. That implies some pretty base competition with your fellow humans, in a world that is continuing to degrade.

      The best time to cooperate and minimize this scenario is now. Cutting out to some foreign piece of geography on the hope that the microclimate there will be relatively less malign after the jet stream starts to fibrillate and meander strikes me as the opposite of what you imagine it to be: facing reality. Reality is now. We have to make the hard choices now, together, while society is robust. If the climate gets as bad as it might absent those decisions, I’m not sure “survival” in that deprived and downward-spiraling world is something I’d aspire to.

      • Lewis Ceverdon says:

        Well said.
        There is nowhere will have a climate stable enough for agriculture if we fail to resolve AGW. All parts of the planet’s climate are interlinked. There is nowhere to run and hide from global climate destabilization.

        We either halt the warming and rapidly restore a natural global temperature, or the feedbacks will accelerate further into a self-reinforcing condition. Several of them each have the potential capacity to dwarf anthro-emissions.

        Running away is just a soft defeatism – and we are very far from defeated.

        Regards,

        Lewis

  9. lannie says:

    PS Wonder where Mr Chu and family are headed,

  10. Mike Roddy says:

    Chu would be more credible had he not gone along for the ride on cheap Western public land coal mining permits and gas fracking.

    He should have resigned in protest while that was going on, not give us a farewell speech about what he could have done earlier.
    Chu will gain redemption now only by becoming a forceful voice for serious action.

    • Superman1 says:

      “He should have resigned in protest while that was going on, not give us a farewell speech about what he could have done earlier.”
      Eisenhower, Rickover, etc. All these people express pangs of conscience only after they retire. Power is too seductive to surrender it voluntarily.

    • Mike, I agree. I was pretty fired up when he was chosen. I wish he had bucked his muzzle.

      To be fair, getting fired for being too outspoken would have given megatons of “alarmist” firepower to the denier crowd. That would have been irresponsible.

      But I do wish he had found ways to use his scientific genius and his connections to other brilliant people to persuade the deniers. I think that’s the only pathway forward. We have to crack the conscience of a handful of key deniers. I don’t believe they’re a monolith of vested interest and unreason (though there is plenty of both in their ranks). I don’t think they want to bequeath a denuded, hypoxic planet to their children.

      I think private efforts, one on one, using his prestige along with others, with carefully-chosen targets, could have moved the ball down the field. And still could.

      BTW, I saw your letter to the editor in the SF Chron congratulating them on the front-page climate analysis. That’s the second big climate-change story they’ve run in a week, by the same reporter, Carolyn Lochhead. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend.

      • Mike Roddy says:

        I like your suggestion about approaching some deniers one on one, Change. I tried it with Anthony Watts, a bad choice, but there must be others who would listen, especially in the Senate. Converting a high profile right wing denier would be important, and would provide cover to others.

        And thanks for telling me my letter to the Chron got published. I was in San Francisco that week, and didn’t even know it made it into the paper. I fear it’s a trend only in that great city, though (my hometown). They have always been way ahead of the rest of the country.

      • Superman1 says:

        “I was pretty fired up when he was chosen. I wish he had bucked his muzzle.”

        People who get to those exalted levels have already demonstrated many times over their loyalty to their superiors. Don’t expect radical ‘loose cannon’ types of initiatives from people at that level. Firebrands will never get to those sorts of positions. By rights, people like James Hansen or Michael Mann are what we need at this time. Getting someone like that to replace Chu has about the same odds as my winning the Powerball Lottery.

  11. TKPGH says:

    The question I have this: who will finally call out the deniers (like Inhofe)? When will those responsible for our lack of action be punished?

    • Sasparilla says:

      Probably about the same time the leaders of the financial services industry that were responsible for the financial collapse face justice….by the time things get bad enough that the pitchforks are out the Koch’s, Inhoffe, Rex Tillersan and the rest will be long in the ground….IMHO.

      But history will remember them for the roles they played in creating this tragedy.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Then dig ‘ém up, like they did Cromwell and Pope Formosus. If they’ve been cremated, the urn can sit in the dock.

    • Superman1 says:

      “When will those responsible for our lack of action be punished?”

      There is no action because we the people, the energy addicts responsible for this problem, don’t want action. Have no fear, those responsible will be punished, or, more accurately, their progeny will be punished.

      • Joe Romm says:

        The people do want action, as every poll shows.

        • To be fair to Superman1, it depends on what “action” you think might be required. Which is to say, how imminent and severe the change in the climate could be.

          Are enough people persuaded the risk is high enough to cede power to the government as they did in WW2? That’s the model many of us advocate. But that would mean things like energy rationing. Much higher taxes and/or personal expenses. Limiting travel.

          So, Superman1 has a point. Yes, people say they want change, but how much and what kind?

          This is where I wish climate change were caused by an evil James Bond-type villain. Then people would rally. But it’s exceedingly difficult to get outside of our own complicity in perpetuating the status quo, and accept that much change would have to come from the bottom up, coordinated thought it would have to be by the government.

          The government can’t “fix” it. I think that’s the change a lot of people imagine. Some “program,” some climate version of Operation Twist. The changes required are structural to society. So, yes, I think there’s a lot of natural human resistance to that.

          • Lewis Ceverdon says:

            The example of the UK legislation is worth noting here. It commits us to a 3% CO2 cut per year till 2050, and was passed by parliament with just 3 votes against out of around 650 members.

            I’ve not heard of any members’ re-election being at risk for supporting the bill.

            This is what can be done when the public are informed of the risks, and the leadership declare their commitment to resolving the climate threat, rather than just mouthing innaugural lipservice.

            We certainly need to tighten the commitment to 4% or 5%, which will be done when major players like the US advance from their derisory present pledge of just 3.67% off their 1990 output by 2020.

            Given the national self-regard drummed into US citizens, a few decent speeches from the WH addressing the moral issue of causing genocidal levels of famine in other countries should be quite effective – along with warnings of the unleashing of elemental feedback forces.

            I wouldn’t knock the American peoples’ ability to face up to privations as part of an obvious and well-led national requirement.

            Regards,

            Lewis

          • Lewis,

            I didn’t know about the UK legislation. I’ll have to track that. I agree, the US public is open to some kind of concrete measure, if they hear the right reasons from the right person, and the action is calibrated to the right level–enough to lower GHG output, but not enough to jolt the economy.

            The most important thing is to get that legislation on the books. Then it can be augmented. But first, get over the hump of popular inertia.

            We have such a thing here in California. Cap-and-trade is underway. This is the first year that real money will be collected from the economy and put toward various GHG-reducing projects. Lots of free carbon allowances at first, but by five years in, things ratchet up so that almost every consumer is going to see some cost. Much of the money is supposed to be flowed back into the citizens’ pockets–we’ll see how that actually plays out. Big this is a big test, maybe make-or-break for the whole US.

        • Jim McKay says:

          “The people do want action, as every poll shows.”

          Yes, but… what action. Or, to what extent are “the people” well enough informed, as to what “works” *NOW*, in the realm of energy sources/generation.

          Question: Is there any consensus, whatsoever, WRT what “the people” want… and are willing to support, in response to these matters?

          Question: How many (or what %) of US population, knows who Chu is… much less, what (as you quoted) his has espoused and stood for, just during these last 4 years?

          (NOTE: I’m only pointing to “gaps”, inhibiting more rapid progress. What I have come to believe and find in my own endeavors, is that… the most meaningful solutions to real world problems are not suggested by their articulation in the past. Rather, they are *NEW* solutions.

          People “wanting action”l but so ill (or incorrectly) informed WRT to *available choices”, simply are not equipped to alter our trajectories so to speak).

          • Superman1 says:

            “Question: Is there any consensus, whatsoever, WRT what “the people” want… and are willing to support, in response to these matters?”

            That’s the key question, whose answer no one wants to see. I tend to disbelieve most polls that ask if people will support change to ward off global warming; they tend to require no specifics and no commitments, and people tend to be overly optimistic. But, I saw a poll within the last year that asked people in the USA how much they would be willing to contribute to measures that would help avoid global warming. They gave an average number (of those who believed in it in the first place) of somewhere between $100-200/year. And, I thought at the time, that sounds about the limit of what my neighbors would be willing to give to help prevent this problem, three bucks a day!

          • Superman1 says:

            Make that three bucks a week!

      • Mike Roddy says:

        For Lewis Cleverdon:

        You hit the nail on the head, and thanks for the info about Parliament. The difference between us and the US is our corporate media, which is controlled by fossil fuel and bank corporations. Self censorship is de rigeur.

        I laid out a program to monitor and call the corporate media to account, but it flopped. Until that changes, we are doomed.

        • Lewis Cleverdon says:

          Mike – thanks for your kind response.

          With regard to the MSM conduct, to get at them effectively is in my view about aiming higher. The shills in the offices will do as their salaries dictate and employ the likes of Revkin, Will, etc.

          To save re-writing it, could I ask you to look at my response to ‘scalters’ near the foot of the thread ? It poses some questions that I hope you’ll find intriguing.

          All the best,

          Lewis

  12. Kim Feil says:

    I hope Chu will help us fight fracking-they are doing this in our backyards an near our schools without regard for emission control technologies. I live, breathe, and blog in BarnettShaleHell Arlington Gasland Texas.

  13. Paul Klinkman says:

    I see Dr. Chu as pretty much middle of the road, playing scientific politics, unwilling to stick out. He presided over a number of crooked energy boondoggles, steering $50 billion in loans into the moribund nuclear hole to China, finding money for expensive clean coal projects, not really speaking out against the food to fuel subsidies that have driven up corn prices.

    Curious things happen when powerful people leave office. Suddenly having no power, they get religion. President Eisenhower railed about humanity crucified on a cross of gold, but only after he couldn’t do anything about it. Some people have deathbed confessions too.

    • Ken Barrows says:

      It was William Jennings Bryan who railed about “humanity crucified on a cross of gold.” He wanted silver as currency alongside gold in 1896. He later railed against monkeys.

      • Omega Centauri says:

        Those Silver currency political wars were the pre-progressive era battle between the debtpeons, who wanted inflation to escape their debt burdens, and the rentier class, who didn’t want the value of their rents to go down. We are in an analogous era today.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      Eisenhower’s was a Cross of Iron, a speech he made near the beginning of his first term. And its purpose was to rail against the post-Stalin, post-WWII actions of the Soviets.
      Eisenhower’s lament upon leaving office was about leaving a Communist Cuba to JFK. He had launched the program that became the Bay of Pigs invasion, but couldn’t bring it to “fruition” before leaving office.

      • Jim McKay says:

        Ike’s watch also ushered in our inaugural oil way, executing Mossadeq coup, installing/maintaining puppet Shah for 3 decades… and all that stuff.

        Even w/trickle of FOIA’s on this one, Ike’s participation, decision making or (???) have yet to be seen though the redactions.

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      All right, my goof. Let’s try it again with a direct quote from Eisenhower’s farewell address, after it was too late for him to act:

      ” Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

      “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

      “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

      “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

      “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

      “In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

      “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

      “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

      and is gravely to be regarded.

      “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. “

  14. Will says:

    I suppose Joe Romm has insider information about Chu being muzzled. As I think back, and looking at the DOE website, it seems as though he spoke about it regularly. My impression of the bigger problem is that his statements were usually ignored by both the corporate press and environmental blogs.

    I wonder how the national conversation might have been different if environmental writers acted as an amplifier for the administration’s positive statements on climate change rather than acting as a muffler. Does it really help to ignore or cynically dismiss positive statements for the sake of pushing the “climate silence” meme?

  15. 2qb says:

    If most of the world sees the risks of maintaining the energy status quo, but Washington DC is the main player dragging its feet, at what point does the world begin boycotting US products the way they did when South Africa refused to get rid of apartheid?

    • Mike Roddy says:

      There is already a lot of hatred for the US over our petro state climate politics. Consumer boycotts are inevitable, and could happen soon. China will probably escape, since they at least passed a carbon tax.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        China is a vast market for most of the world. It is very unlikely that countries that do tens of billions in trade with China will shoot themselves in the foot, particularly as China provides low cost material, including renewable energy systems and is a source of billions in soft loans made without the humiliating ‘conditionalities’ of Western loans.

    • Jim McKay says:

      Entire South American continent (+ Cuba) cut ties w/US/IMF dictates after watching 1st few years of Bush’s Iraq horror.

      Formed their own economic union, did not even give US a seat at Union’s table after ’05. They have, across nations, been electing leaders not endorsed or supported by US… most of which have markedly improved their respective country’s prosperity. Most of Goldman Sach’s profits through mid-’11 came from carry trades on So. American currencies.

      Evo Morales’ quote great metaphor describing US’ increasingly ball-and-chain self made connundrum: “The only reason there’s never been a coup in the US, is because there is no American Embassy there.”

  16. Dick Smith says:

    I’m more impressed by the women (Lisa Jackson, EPA; Jane Lubchenko, NOAA) than the men (Steven Chu, Emergy; John Holdren, W.H).

    Holdren has been a complete disappointment. I expected so much. I saw no evidence that he had any influence. Why Holdren bothered sticking around is beyond me. I expected less of Chu…got what I expected.

  17. Speaking of women, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, had this to say at the World Economic Forum in Davos:

    “In response to a question from the audience, she said: ‘Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.’ ”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/roasted-toasted-fried-and-grilled-climate-change-talk-from-an-unlikely-source/article8077946/

  18. SecularAnimist says:

    M. Tucker quoted Chu: “This is something you don’t solve in five years, 10 years. It will take a half century to get our carbon emissions down to where we need to go to protect the climate.”

    That’s a somewhat ambiguous statement, actually.

    Of course it will take a half century to get our CO2 emissions down to where they need to be in a half century, which is zero, or very nearly zero.

    The crucial question is how much of that reduction occurs “in five years, 10 years”.

    If we can cut emissions in half in 5-10 years, and by 80 percent in 20 years by aggressively plucking the “low-hanging fruit” of dramatic efficiency increases and rapid deployment of renewable electricity generation, and then finish phasing out the remaining, more difficult 20 percent of emissions (e.g. electrifying ground transport, converting to organic agriculture) within 10-20 years after that, that’s a very different matter than reducing them at an equal rate of 25 percent per decade for 40 years, even though both arrive at zero emissions by mid-century.

  19. Raul M. says:

    There was also talk of Chu being involved in the Deepwater Horizon affair. Comment Pointed towards BP’s successful completion with the leaking oil rig, there was use of innovative equipment used to capture the leaking oil.

    GreenNinjaTV has a nice take on the use one may make of their own initiative.

  20. Now that discussion of future directions is open, what would you, Joe, like to see at DOE? What are the reasons he got such inept support? If a retired general were appointed, would that be good or bad?

  21. scalters says:

    You’re all missing the point, the people that make the rules in this world are no longer presidents and prime-ministers, they are corporations like shell, exxon, haliburton & BP. They feed off our greed, off our unwillingness to go without, off our denial about this worlds infinity, and they feed it all that greed straight back into us in a giant loop called consumerism. And now they have discovered the huge quantities of unconventional gas below our feet, they have even less reason to embrace renewable energy any time soon. Welcome to the age of methane, 21x more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and look at all the CO2 you have to burn & water you have to poison to extract it. Glad I don’t have kids.

    • Lewis Ceverdon says:

      scalters – several figures around 23 are quoted for methane’s GW potential compared to CO2, but these are for a 100 yr horizon; for the crucial 20yr horizon methane’s GWP is reportedly around 100 CO2e.

      Regarding the increasingly threadbare assumption of the US fossil lobby preventing action on climate, have you considered that it represents only around $1.1T out of the $15T US economy ? Or that all the rest of the US corporations – who are right in the firing line of climate destabilization and most of whom have no inherent loyalty to fossil fuels – for some reason don’t deploy the chickenfeed counter-funding to defend their apparent interests ?

      Strange that, especially considering that EU fossil lobby doesn’t fund denialism, and EU corporations are increasingly vocal about the need for climate action.

      So what’s the difference driving such different conduct ?

      Regards,

      Lewis

    • Superman1 says:

      Probably the best post on this thread. The confluence of 1) addiction to fossil fuel-based consumerism and 2) corporate exploitation of this addiction is an almost insurmountable roadblock.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Selective presentation as usual. In Europe, with near-identical consumerism and fossil fuel dependence, we are advancing steadily. The UK has legislated a 3% cut per year and no politician has been ousted as a result.

      But an honest statement of this would conflict with the goal of hyping defeatism – so selective presentation is the norm.

  22. Raul M. says:

    A possible way to get people to understand the impending sea level rise. Redo the statue of liberty to include extra arms holding a broom that sweeps the rising seas away. Then as the seas rise the then president could say. people I told you so!!!

    • Raul M. says:

      The then president could say I told you so except that the bestest storm shelter (the one below congress and the white house will have to be fitted to be underwater shelters.
      Are they sure that the shelters are equiped to withstand sea level rise? Well it is not going well even for those in the know.

  23. SecularAnimist says:

    Yesterday, I wrote that Superman1 has, on another comment thread here, “accused climate scientists of deliberately falsifying their work to downplay the danger of climate change — for money”.

    Superman1 responded that this was an “outright distortion”.

    Here’s what Superman1 posted just a few days ago on the “Why Climate Scientists Have Consistently UNDERestimated Key Global Warming Impacts” thread, beginning with a sarcastic remark, which he proceeded to justify and elaborate on when challenged:

    “Certainly couldn’t be that they receive all their research funding from Federal governments, and these governments want to underplay the seriousness so that they will not have to take any action … If a researcher wants continued funding, and recognizes the sponsor wants the results with the least uncertainty, he will be motivated to report along those lines … I’ll be more specific … Based on my experience, and studies on the topic I’ve read reported in the literature, the most important factor in the research reported is the funding source …”

    So, with all due respect, I don’t think my characterization is a “distortion” at all. Superman1 clearly, unequivocally, and “specifically” stated that the reason that climate scientists have underestimated global warming impacts is that they are paid to do so, by funders such as “Federal governments” who want to “underplay the seriousness” — and indeed, he claimed that that is “THE most important factor in the research reported”.

    • Superman1 says:

      Also amazing that you didn’t hit the Reply button and respond to the original post, where people could have read my full statement in context. I’m sure that was just an oversight.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Well said SecularAnimist.

      This tinfoil troll very obviously uses distortion and slander as two of a spread of dishonest tactics to try to hype defeatism – which is clearly the goal in almost every one of its splurge of comments.

      Having shown itself to be uninterested in – and simply impervious to – reasoned argument from many regular CP posters, the tag ‘tinfoil’ is thus clearly appropriate.

      Regards,

      Lewis

    • Superman1 says:

      One way to divert attention from a flawed argument is to change to a completely different topic. I have continually challenged Secular Animist to demonstrate that his One-Note Symphony of switching to renewables while maintaining the present fossil fuel-based energy profligate lifestyle in the transition process will not take us over the cliff. He has never answered the challenge in any direct manner, and has tried to respond repeatedly with veiled personal attacks. To set the record straight on my view of scientists and how they respond to their sponsors, I have appended the full posted statement in the (to be posted) post above. Note the bottom line: “I would not discount the motivations of researchers to please their sponsors in how they report their results.” Anyone who disagrees with that summary conclusion has no understanding of how sponsored Research and Development operate.

      • SecularAnimist says:

        Superman1 wrote: “I have continually challenged Secular Animist”

        With all due respect, I don’t find your comments to be at all “challenging”. Other than challenging my rather limited patience for nonsense.

        As to the topic at hand, it appears you ae “doubling down” on your baseless assertion that climate “researchers” falsify or distort their findings “to please their sponsors”.

        It’s interesting to note that you say such things here, but not in your numerous comments posted at RealClimate — a site run by some of the very researchers who you accuse here of distorting their findings for money.

  24. Jim says:

    Steve Chu’s term began with such promise. He so precisely put his finger on exactly what needed to be done to accelerate economic growth and transformation of our energy infrastructure. In the year before his appointment he went around giving a talk saying, “This country does electricity now the way we did roads in 1939…. Some president, maybe even our next president, will create a national transmission system analogous to Eisenhower’s highway system, and trigger vast economic growth as the Interstate Highway System did. ”

    Exactly, exactly what is needed to get major renewables project built — put them where the resources are best, connect them to the load by eliminating the vast jurisdictional matters. Federalize energy. We did it for gas, and build 14,000 miles of pipelines in a decade. We didn’t do it for electric power, and built 140 miles or so of transmission lines in the same time.

    Chu’s role as Secretary was so desperately disappointing because he knew what had to be done, and chose instead to do nothing, on a highly critical task that he could have accomplished.

    “All that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.”

    There are few visible signs that he even *tried*.

    How will he look back on his term? He lined himself up with the denialists position that “oh yeah, it’s R&D we need, we can forget about actually building and implementing the technologies we have.” Yeah sure ARPA-E is nice ‘n all, but you could have had gigawatts, tens of gigawatts, hundreds more gigawatts of wind and solar on the grid and operating if you instead had acted on implementation.

    You moved the needle, Steve. Unfortunately, you moved it the wrong way.