After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, I had a few isolated concerns about his true science colors; he had issued creepy vaccine-autism statements, his transition team was stuffed with people who believed in anti-science UFO conspiracies, another suspect pick was tipped to run the EPA until his anti-vaccine quackery couldn't be hidden any more, and one of his picks thought girls couldn't do math. For a guy supposedly better for science his advisors were a concern. John Holdren looked like a science pick, though he had a lot of Doomsday hysteria in his past so he was basically a question mark.
Then there was Nobel laureate Steven Chu. Another physicist, like Holdren, leading many of us to wonder if Pres. Obama knew that the life sciences voted for him even more than the hard sciences did, but a man of science. His fetish for killing CO2 was a concern - most people knew even then that there were a lot of knobs driving climate change so certainly a physicist should know that and be more nuanced than someone like Al Gore - but risk aside, who would know more about energy science than Chu? He just needed to be a leader for America and not an advocate for (or against) a pet cause, but only time could tell so optimism was there.
Apparently his advocacy had overtaken his science and today the White House had to issue a statement supporting Chu. That's a bad sign, folks. In world of crystalline solar panels, endorsing copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) was suspect and Solyndra suddenly building huge fabs along I-880 in Silicon Valley with government money should have been a warning - and it would be, if the science was coming first.
Instead, piggybacking on the incredibly shady terms of the Solyndra financing, we find that Chu gave even more money to Solyndra even when they were already in default. Thus the reassurance for Chu, which means they are letting the world know he is on his way out.
It's not a bad idea to research better thin films or CIGS or whatever. Solar cell efficiencies are so low it is ridiculous to consider it an 'alternative' energy source right now but if the private sector wants to finance private research, so be it, that is how fortunes get mad. Yet mirroring the inefficiency of solar technology is the inefficiency of the federal government. The government should not be financing bad technology just because they want to look 'green' and certainly should not be violating its own laws because an investor in one company is a friend of the president. There is nothing green about wasting a billion dollars on nothing.
Chu is a manager at this point, he did not personally intervene for Solyndra, he listened to arguments and made a judgment call - but if he were not so anti-CO2 he looks at everything else through rose-colored-business-plan glasses, this would not have happened.
As a result, the scrutiny is on companies that may be worthy - another $5 billion in loans for technology the government cannot hope to understand is going to get noticed by the media and partisan opposition.
The FBI is making a show of investigating criminal activity at Solyndra but the government made a bad investment, plain and simple. Going into an election year, they don't want to continue to look like they don't know where money comes from and are just throwing it around - so Chu can do himself and America a favor by putting his science cap back on, looking skeptically at technology and even concepts he may not like and not giving alternatives a free pass. Mitigation has worked, CO2 is back at mid-90s levels, and because of that economic train wreck Democrats could lose an election.
The White House called off the rabid activist running the EPA a short while ago, and Chu had to have signed off on that, so here's hoping they listen to him some more - and he is there to be heard.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Cape Verde Volcano - The Biggest Natural Disaster You Aren't Reading About
- Guest Post: Ben Allanach, On Open Access
- HIP 116454b Shows That Despite Malfunction, Kepler Can Still Find Planets
- Why I’ll Talk Policy With Climate Change Deniers But Not Science
- Parkinson’s Disease Reverted In Rats
- Foldscope: A Microscope You Can Carry In Your Pocket
- There Was No 'Paleo Diet' - Ancient People Ate What They Had
- "Read more about the deepest fish etc., from Alan Jamieson, Senior Lecturer, Oceanlab at University..."
- "Open access to data http://inspirehep.net/record/749860/data..."
- "Yes indeed.In passing, one of my many nicknames is Compo. Now that I no longer need to wear..."
- "Just curious; why do you bounce all over a science site with no intention other than crapping all..."
- Concerns raised about variable performance of some UK personal use breathalyzers
- Alaska fish adjust to climate change by following the food
- Research shows E.B. White was right in 'Charlotte's Web'
- NASA's SDO captures images of 2 mid-level flares
- Lost memories might be able to be restored, new UCLA study indicates