Monday, December 14, 2009

Ouch! This hurts

When I was writing
Elegant Technology back in the 1980s, it had become quite obvious that the Germans and Japanese were the most likely to produce working green technologies--I even put such a claim on my book cover. This conclusion stemmed from the fact that "green" technologies had to be an improvement on current technologies. This meant that only the folks who operated on the technological bleeding edge had any hope of advancing the art.

Because the English-speaking world was deliberately de-industrializing behind the public faces of Thatcher and Reagan, it was effectively eliminated in the race for Elegant Technologies in comparison to places like Germany and Japan that still retained their respect for their industrial base.

I always thought that Britain was worse than the USA when it came to environmental cluelessness. So it is with some pain that I note this spot-on critique from the Guardian of the performance by Dr. Chu at Copenhagen. Our secretary of energy is a Nobel Laureate in Physics but when it comes to subjects like Energy Efficiency, it's like he is stuck holding a caulk gun trying to figure out how to solve big problems on the cheap.

US left behind in technological race to fight climate change
A speech by the US energy secretary, Steven Chu, shows how America's unquestioning belief in the free market has held back technological innovation

Steven Chu

Steven Chu, US secretary for energy. Photograph: Ben Margot/AP

I have just been watching the tragic sight of a fallen giant flailing around on its back like a beetle, desperately trying to turn itself over.

The occasion was a speech by the US secretary of energy, Steven Chu. He is, of course, a Nobel physicist, brilliant, modest, likeable, a delightful contrast to the thugs employed by the previous administration. But his speech was, in the true sense of the word, pathetic: it moved me to pity.

Yesterday afternoon in Copenhagen – where the UN climate talks are entering their second week – Professor Chu unveiled what would have been a series of inspiring innovations, had he made this speech 15 years ago.

Read the whole article

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