Steven Chu on new energy solutions

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by Carol Lim

Dr. Steven Chu, a former member of President Obama’s cabinet, a Nobel laureate and a Stanford University physics, molecular and cellular physiology professor, addressed a packed ballroom of scientists and the public at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago Friday night. Chu’s lecture was titled “How Discovery and Innovation Can Meet Energy Needs.”

“There are really strange things happening, although we don’t have a mechanical point of view able to predict why these things are happening. There are life models that say yes. We think we partially understand that, but we can’t predict a wet winter, cold, a jet stream, instability, hurricanes, tornadoes. We can’t do that yet. But we do know these weird things are happening over the last 30 years. This is a very aggressive carbon limitation plan that we’re not following…I would say the uncertainty in my opinion, are a little bigger than this, but you notice it goes only go to 2100…. Remember we’ve just witnessed 0.6, 0.7 degrees higher in the last 30 years. So now, we’re looking at 4 degrees and so again, huge risks….I’m trying to urge the climate fathers to go to 2200, 2300,” Chu said.

“Yogi Berra didn’t say this, but he should have. If we don’t change direction, we will wind up where we’re headed,” Chu said. Chu also said deeper oil drilling and increased oil production have made the United States the second largest oil producer in the world behind Saudi Arabia.

Chu also covered advances in fuel efficiency such as higher gas mileage, hybrid cars; carbon gas release and containment and how more can be done to reduce energy when surfing the Internet and in recycled parts in cable television boxes. Chu also reviewed energy sources such as batteries, oil, natural gas, the sun, wind and current and future costs for consumers and energy providers.

During his presentation, Chu steered mostly clear of current politics in Washington, DC, but told the group he anticipated the public outcry against higher flood insurance rates after hurricanes Sandy, Katrina and other natural disasters.

Dr. Chu was the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy from Jan. 2009 to April 2013 and a member of President Obama’s cabinet. Before that, Chu worked at Stanford University and Bell Laboratories. He is a co-recipient of the Noble Prize for Physics in 1997, holds 10 patents and has published 250 articles on science and technology. After 4 years as Secretary of Energy, Chu returned to Stanford University as a professor in physics and in molecular and cellular physiology.

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