Energy Secretary Steven Chu didn’t reach the pinnacle of his profession by treading the well-worn path of modern group-think. It’s regrettable that the Nobel Prize-winning physicist is stuck in that rut now.
Mr. Chu took great pains in a Feb. 19 speech to a Denver energy summit in arguing the case for human-induced climate change. “We have to convince all of America that this is a nonpartisan issue. … This is our economic future,” he said.
You have to feel for a man of science trying to make the jump to politics. In science, facts speak for themselves. In politics, facts are often run to ground by baloney. As energy secretary, Mr. Chu has traded fact for fiction and now spends his days selling President Obama’s discredited climate-change policy.
Surely, Mr. Chu must be aware that the case for human-induced climate change, the cause that he has embraced as the paramount mission of his secretariat, has been exposed as fraught with fraud. Two weeks ago, Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ pre-eminent climate-change official, announced his resignation amid a groundswell of derision over his failure to confront the global-warming hoax. Evidence of falsified data, errors in the U.N.’s own Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and biased ground-based temperature data are all part of the body of bogus science that has become known as Climategate.
On Wednesday, when Mr. Chu toured the site of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City - touted as “the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city” - he felt compelled to voice climate-change-equals-jobs rhetoric similar to that which he delivered in Denver. When completed, the sparkling 6-square-kilometer model city will be equipped with the world’s priciest energy technologies, including solar, hydrogen and geothermal power plants - energy toys that a few opulent oil sheiks can afford to play with, but a country the size of America cannot. What he saw there will not be “our economic future,” at least not anytime soon.
Mr. Chu’s official government biography crows that he has “devoted his recent scientific career to the search for new solutions to our energy challenges and stopping global climate change - a mission he continues with even greater urgency as secretary of energy.”
The Cabinet secretary could learn from the example of the wise Viking King Canute. Legend has it that when His Majesty learned that his flattering courtiers were claiming he was “so great, he could command the tides of the sea to go back,” he had his throne carried to the seashore. When the tide rose, he commanded the waves to halt. When his command had no effect, he pointed out to all that though the deeds of kings might appear great to men, they were nothing compared to the forces of nature.
Likewise, the energy secretary would be smart to apprehend the limits of his power. Climate will change - or cease changing - but not by his leave. The real challenge of helping Americans develop clean, affordable and plentiful energy sources should be enough to occupy his days in office.