Climate Concern Defines Energy Dept. Pick

The man tapped to be the next secretary of energy, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, recently compared the danger of climate change to a problem with electrical wiring in a house.

Steven Chu

The man tapped to be the next secretary of energy, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, recently compared the danger of climate change to a problem with electrical wiring in a house.

Suppose, he said, you had a small electrical fire at home and a structural engineer told you there was a 50 percent chance your house would burn down in the next few years unless you spent $20,000 to fix faulty wiring.

"You can either continue to shop for additional evaluations until you find the one engineer in 1,000 who is willing to give you the answer you want -- 'your family is not in danger' -- or you can change the wiring," Chu said in a presentation in September.

Because of the danger of climate change, he said, the United States and other countries also need to make some urgent repairs. He said governments need to "act quickly" to implement fiscal and regulatory policies to stimulate the deployment of technologies that boost energy efficiency and "minimize" carbon emissions.

Chu's views on climate change would be among the most forceful ever held by a cabinet member. In an interview with The Post last year, he said that the cost of electricity was "anomalously low" in the United States, that a cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gases "is an absolutely non-partisan issue," and that scientists had come to "realize that the climate is much more sensitive than we thought."


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