Steven Chu’s favorite Energy Cupcakes
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
The United States faces a “Sputnik moment” in the global clean energy race and risks falling far behind advances by China and other countries, the US energy secretary, Steven Chu, warned today.
Hours before the opening of the United Nations climate summit in Cancún, Chu said that the US urgently needed to invest in research and innovation – much as it responded to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first space satellite in 1957 – if it wanted to remain a leader of innovation.
“We face a choice today. Are we going to continue America’s innovation leadership or are we going to fall behind?” Chu said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington.
Chu, a Nobel prize winner in physics, said his own career had been shaped by the orbit of that first space satellite. But, he said, over the last 15 years the US had steadily been losing ground to China and India in research and hi-tech manufacturing.
For the first time last year, the majority of US patents were awarded to inventors based outside America.
Meanwhile, China had emerged as the world’s largest producer of wind and solar power, and was breaking ground on 30 new nuclear reactors. It now has the fastest high-speed trains in operation, with running speeds of 220mph.
Gao Guangsheng, a senior Chinese official for climate change policy, told a conference in California this month that China was gearing up for even bigger investment in clean energy technology in its next five-year plan.
Gao went on to tell the conference, which was hosted by California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, that China had reached its goal for wind power 10 years ahead of schedule.
The only goals our Congress is good at establishing are those for fund-raising for political campaigns.
In 1957 we had a Republican president who recognized the military-industrial complex as a danger to American culture and commerce. Republicans and Democrats still occasionally worked in bi-partisan fashion to accomplish tasks which benefitted ordinary citizens to some extent.
Eisenhower accepted a significant challenge in rolling back the fascist-minded thugs clustered around Senator Joe McCarthy – much like today’s crusading, populist, teabaggers.
Steven Chu – thinks that version of America still exists.