Exhibiting a quick wit and sharp sense of humor, Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu joined John Stewart on The Daily Show earlier this week. In the monologue leading up to the interview, Stewart reviewed the Waxman-Markey bill (officially known as H.R. 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) passed by the House of Representatives last month. Many of the compromises weakened several of the initial measures that were in the bill. Among those that Stewart pointed out were the change from a 20% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 to 17% and a renewable energy mandate that was reduced from 25% by 2025 to 15% by 2020, which according to Stewart’s acerbic commentary could be lowered by individual states. In addition, Stewart pointed out the concessions that led to reduced regulatory oversight from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
When Chu came on the show, he displayed his sense of humor by presenting Stewart with an honorary membership to NAS, typically the National Academy of the Sciences. However, Chu’s gift read “Nerds of America Society” on account of Stewart having followed the energy secretary’s confirmation hearing. Stewart and Chu then bantered about the Markey-Waxman bill, which Chu said he supports. According to Chu, the signal the United States sends to industry and entrepreneurs is that “we are going to find solutions.” The interview can be seen below.
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Stewart brought up the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report that has drawn a direct link between the carbon rich energy sources that dominate American power supplies and additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the end, Chu said he saw this time as an opportunity for American innovation to lead in the new industrial revolution. He also mentioned some low-hanging fruit, such as painting roofs white (or making new roofing white), which Chu claimed can save from 5-20% on heating and cooling bills, depending on climate. Chu cited data that white roofing materials has the equivalent carbon savings of taking all cars off the road for 11 years.
[image source: The Daily Show]