Global Warming: The Public Isn’t Learning Fast Enough

200902040630.jpg Newly appointed and confirmed (and apparently free of tax problems) Energy Secretary Chu is making some dire predictions about the consequences of global warming. Chu’s primary concern, it appears, is that the public does not share the same degree of concern and Chu’s strategy for dealing with that is “public education”.

In the course of a half-hour interview, Chu made clear that he sees public education as a key part of the administration’s strategy to fight global warming — along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the threat of warming is keeping policymakers focused on alternatives to fossil fuel, even though gasoline prices have fallen over the last six months from historic highs. But he said public awareness needs to catch up. He compared the situation to a family buying an old house and being told by an inspector that it must pay a hefty sum to rewire it or risk an electrical fire that could burn everything down.

[From California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns – Los Angeles Times]

Doesn’t that strike anyone as rather scary? When governments decide that the populace isn’t on the same page with them and then direct large amounts of taxpayer dollars to public education campaigns, we should all be concerned.

As for me, if Chu wants to team up with the Agriculture Department to promote GM crops that use less water, that’s good with me and if Chu wants to promote research and development for more efficient solar cells, advanced electricity grid research, and small scale nuclear, well that’s great too.

A familiar phrase used against those who don’t agree with global warming theories is that they “are not a climate scientists” and it applies to Chu as well. It’s really not helpful or productive to use predictions that rely on models for the year 2100 as evidence of a crisis that requires immediate action when climate forecast models are notoriously inaccurate, not because the Earth isn’t cooperating but because there is more that we don’t know than what we do know.