Why Steven Chu will be a great energy secretary
December 15, 2008
We want to congratulate President-elect Obama and Science Debate 2008 supporter Steven Chu on Chu's nomination to become Energy Secretary. We encourage you to view this brief YouTube video Chu recorded for us on his philosophy of how and why science is important to our political process and to the ongoing prosperity of the United States.
There are a lot of things to like about this appointment. Here are the top 3:
1. Before President-elect Obama has even announced a science advisor, we know a Nobel laureate scientist will be in the cabinet, adding an important voice to policy decisions. Steve Chu is a man who understands science policy and the big issues of energy, climate change, research and competitiveness inside and out.
2. The DOE is one of the federal government's big four agencies when it comes to funding scientific research. That it will be headed by a scientist is a terrific thing for science, and for physics and energy research in particular, as DOE funds most physics research.
3. As several presenters pointed out in this video of the competitiveness session of our Innovation 2008 conference, there has been a tendency in tight funding environments for agencies to fund lower risk, incremental gain projects. These projects have a very low failure rate, but they don't tend to produce the kind of game-changing breakthroughs we need to solve our energy and climate policy challenges. Steve Chu understands, and presumably will support, the need to allocate additional funds to high-risk, high-reward research, where the failure rate is admittedly higher, but successes can change the world. America should be well-served by a Secretary Chu.
We will be meeting in mid-January at Arizona State University to discuss a number of new ways we can continue the good work we began together in the Science Debate 2008 initiative, and will keep you posted.
In the mean time, here's to a warm and happy holiday season... and if you like what we've done and want to see it continue, we wouldn't mind a little holiday bonus or an ongoing monthly commitment. ;)
Thank you, as always, for your support.
-The team at ScienceDebate2008.com