In his rousing acceptance speech of 5 November, US President-elect Barack Obama had mentioned three challenges—“the greatest in our lifetime”: two wars, a planet in peril and the worst financial crisis in a century.
His subsequent statements on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and on the financial crisis have attracted a lot of attention. Far less attention has been lavished on what Obama says he plans to do about climate change, or the planet in peril.
Obama has now appointed a physics Nobel Prize winner, Steven Chu, as his energy secretary. That shows how serious Obama is about new technologies to fight climate change. In contrast, George W. Bush started his presidency as a climate-change sceptic.
What is also interesting is how Obama has tried to link the three crises, or rather the solutions to them. He believes that clean energy will help the US cut its addiction to oil imported from trouble spots such as West Asia and Venezuela. And he hopes these initiatives will create five million new jobs in his recession-hit country.