Chu compares climate debate to tobacco-cancer battles

Friday was a fairly Steven Chu-heavy day on the E2 blog (see here and here), but here’s one more: The Energy Secretary gave an interesting interview to the San Jose Mercury News that ran Friday as well.

This exchange includes a pretty tough jab at his opponents -- Chu compares them Big Tobacco:

Q Are you worried that the political will to enact a national policy or somehow tax or price carbon emissions is gone now? If you look at recent polls, the number of Americans who believe that global warming is real and man-made is declining. The political trends are not in your favor.

A Americans were believing because of sound bites, and now they're disbelieving because of sound bites. One can honestly say that if we don't do this, we will not be economically competitive. Ten and 20 years from now, the price of oil will likely be higher — this is not a stretch of the imagination. The debate for whether smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema was actually in the first decade among scientists, but they muddied the waters for 2½ more decades. Climate change, on a global scale, is a much bigger deal, and people are trying to muddy the waters, particularly people who think they might lose. Unfortunately, it's easier to propagate fear than seeing a vision of prosperity.