Guest essay by Kevin D. Knoebel
In case you missed it, physicist Ernest J. Moniz was sworn in on May 21, 2013 as the new US Secretary of Energy. Born in 1944 in Fall River, Massachusetts, graduated high school in Fall River, Massachusetts, got his BS is Physics from Boston College in Massachusetts in 1966. Finally he left that East Coast pocket of moderate conservatism during the 1960’s counter-cultural revolution to experience something completely different, Stanford University in California, where he got his PhD in Theoretical Physics in 1972.
Afterward he retreated back to Massachusetts, joining the faculty at MIT. From there he briefly wandered as far westward as Washington DC to serve two positions in the Clinton Administration, finishing as Under Secretary of Energy, thus granting him the wisdom to succeed in his new position.
Sadly he replaces (ignoring the brief fill-in time of an Acting Secretary) the beloved visionary, physicist Steven Chu. It is unknown what will happen to Chu’s fantastic dream of a glucose economy, where fast-growing plants in the tropics are converted to glucose, to be transported worldwide and converted as needed into biofuels and bioplastics. Granted it was likely doomed from the start, as continual exposure to high levels of glucose is known to the State of California to cause diabetes, but it was a wondrously original concept.
It is not known at this time why Moniz shares the same hairstyle as esteemed Stanford University theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. Hopefully Stanford professor Leif Svalgaard will be able to tell us if this is a time-honored tradition among past and current members of the Stanford Theoretical Physics Department. Steven Chu was once a Stanford professor of physics, but pursued practical applications, does not have the hairstyle.
Not Ernest Moniz
To assist those with hearing difficulties, or who have troubles with internet video, etc, I have painstakingly prepared a transcript, striving for absolute accuracy, listening to the same fragments dozens of times on the system speaker (I rarely use audio). Feel free to compare it to the video and report any corrections.
I’m not here, to, ah, debate what’s not debatable. Ah, the threat from climate change is real and urgent. Ah, the science fully demands, ah, a prudent response. Ah, just this month, as you know, I mean, pfft, kinda symbolically, ah, hitting, ah, essentially 400 ppm, ah, of CO2. Ah, of course that’s not including, ah, the non-CO2 greenhouse gases which really pump you up to about 450, ah, in, in effect. Ah, so we really need to, need to, ah, get after this. It’s, it’s an important imperative. Ah, and, ah, now the question is what are the solutions. And this is where there is, in fact, now, what I would call, legitimate debate. Let’s debate the solutions, ah, as opposed to, to, the driver.
Exquisite. Climate change is not debatable, it is real that climate changes. Science demands a prudent response, and it is manifestly prudent to wait and see what happens before responding, especially since there’s very little at all happening. Essentially we are already effectively at an atmospheric concentration of 450ppm CO₂, further showing the rising CO₂ is nothing to worry about.
Plus the discussions have simplified. We no longer have to argue how much of climate change is due to natural variation, we can go straight to debating the solutions to natural variation.
While our new Secretary of Energy has been widely greeted with enthusiasm, it was noted there was some concern, as mentioned in a HuffPo Green piece:
Some environmental groups have fretted about Moniz taking over the Energy Department, given his past support for nonrenewable, waste-producing practices such as hydraulic fracturing and nuclear fission.
I’ll wait until these obvious hypocrites start voicing their concerns using organically-grown fully-biodegradable computers and smart phones before considering their opinions. Meanwhile I welcome our new obviously-intelligent Energy Secretary.
Hopefully he’ll be able to stay in there and do some good. Although following the trend of nominating Stanford-affiliated physicists for the position, I am looking forward to the reign of future Energy Secretary Svalgaard.