Steven Chu – new Secretary of Energy in the USA / Steven Chu – ny energiminister i USA

Posted on December 19, 2008


Many people have compared Obama with Kennedy and there is certainly a similarity as regards future energy policy in the US. In Kennedy’s days there was no Secretary of Energy. President Clinton appointed the first Secretary of Energy in the US, James R. Schlesinger. In President Kennedy’s day energy issues were delegated to the government agencies and in 1961 he turned to Berkeley and the Chancellor of the University, Nobel Prize laureate Glenn T Seaborg, who was also Vice-director for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Professor Seaborg thus became chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, a post that he held for eight years. (More about Glenn T Seaborg)

President-elect Obama has now also turned to Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, LBL. Its present director, Nobel Prize laureate professor of physics Steven Chu, has now been appointed as Secretary of Energy. (More about Steven Chu)

After his years in Washington DC, Professor Seaborg returned to Berkeley; and after my PhD I was invited in 1978 by Seaborg to come to Berkeley and work in his group 1978-79. When I was back in Sweden, we continued to cooperate for 20 years until his death in 1999. LBL was during the period 1978 to 2003 one of my bases for experimental research.

It will now be very interesting to follow what will happen at the US Energy Information Administration, EIA. I find it very hard to believe that Steven Chu, professor of physics, who has a code of honor to always seek the truth, can accept the scenarios that EIA presents. He presumably won’t have time to influence the prognosis which comes in the beginning of the year, but by November 2009 when next World Energy Outlook 2009 is to be published; his search for the truth must have broken through.

Earlier, I have pointed out that it is time that natural scientists get more room than economists in discussions of future energy supply. Let us hope that this is the first step, and that Secretary of Energy Chu will listen to the words of his predecessor, James R. Schlesinger, last autumn:

“And therefore to the peakists I say, You can declare victory. You are no longer the beleaguered [I think this is the correct spelling in both American and British English] small minority of voices crying in the wilderness. You are now mainstream. You must learn to take yes for an answer and be gracious in victory.”


Många har jämfört Obama med Kennedy och då det gäller framtida energipolitik i USA finns det också en likhet. Under Kennedys dagar fanns det ingen energiminister. Det var först president Clinton som utnämnde James R. Schlesinger som USA:s förste energiminister. På president Kennedys tid var energifrågan delegerad till myndigheter och 1961 vände han sig mot Berkeley och universitetets rektor och tillika biträdande direktör för Lawrenc Berkeley Laboratory, Nobelpristagare Glenn T Seaborg. Professor Seaborg blev då ordförande för Amerikanska Atomenergikommissionen, en tjänst som han hade under 8 år. (Mer om Glenn T Seaborg)

Blivande president Obama har nu också vänt sig mot Berkeley och Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, LBL. Dess nuvarande direktör Nobelpristagare och professor i fysik Steven Chu har nu blivit utsedd till ny energiminister. (Mer om Steven Chu)

Efter sina år i Washington kom professor Seaborg tillbaka till Berkeley och efter min doktorsexamen blev jag 1978 inbjuden av Seaborg att komma till Berkeley och arbeta i hans grupp 1978-79. Tillbaka i Sverige fortsatte vi att samarbeta under 20 år fram till hans död 1999. LBL har under tiden 1978 till 2003 varit en av mina baser för experimentell forskning.

Det skall nu bli mycket intressant att studera vad som kommer att hända med US Energi Information Administration. Jag har mycket svårt att tänka mig att Steven Chu, professor i fysik, som har en hederscord att söka sanningen kan acceptera de framtidsscenarier som EIA presenterar. Förmodligen hinner han inte påverka den prognos som kommer i början av året, men fram till november 2009 då nästa World Energy Outlook 2009 skall publiceras måste hans strävan att finna sanningen fått genomslag.

Tidigare har jag påpekat att det är dags att naturvetare får större plats än ekonomer då framtidens energiförsörjning skall diskuteras. Låt oss hoppas att detta är första steget och att energiminister Chu lyssnar till vad hans företrädare James R. Schlesinger sa förra hösten:

”And therefore to the peakists I say, You can declare victory. You are no longer the beleagured small minority of voices crying in the wilderness. You are now main streams. You must learn to take yes for an answer and be gracious in victory.”

Posted in: Dagsaktuellt