Just a few hours ago, Secretary Chu finished a major address at the National Press Club in which he cited recent clean technology successes by China and other industrial nations as a "Sputnik Moment" for the United States -- a critical world moment when we must wake up and mobilize all of America's ingenuity, focus and strength in order to create cost-effective clean energy technologies to power our country and economy through the next century.
With 17 national labs and world leading scientific and computer resources, the Department of Energy is on the leading edge to forge this new clean economy future. Secretary Chu outlined a few promising DOE projects, among them a revolutionary new vehicle battery that can carry a four-person car 500 miles on a single charge, and a project out of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to convert sunlight into useable fuels like gasoline using an artificial process of photosynthesis.
As he said, much like how our airplanes are now much more powerful at flying than birds, new artificial processes of photosynthesis could be much more powerful than natural photosynthesis because of the tools and resources at our disposal.
Throughout the speech, Secretary Chu reminded us that this "Sputnik Moment" is both a challenge and an opportunity, and that we can't take our world scientific leadership for granted.
Being optimistic, Secretary Chu told us his theory, that just like the space race drew many smart, young people into science 50 years ago, he hopes that concerns about climate change may attract many intelligent young people into scientific careers right when we'll need them most.
G. Simmons is a New Media Specialist and contractor to the Office of Public Affairs.