A combination of increased efficiency and clean energy are needed to achieve the goals set out by the Obama Administration. Fulton said we need to double the miles per gallon of every vehicle by 2030, and by 2025 we must use advanced bio diesel for trucks, planes, and ships.
Clean energy sources are becoming more available and more profitable. The costs of windmills and solar cells have dropped and windmills are even becoming competitive with gas turbines, said the energy chief. A giant ocean wind turbine with a 126 meter diameter can capture 59 percent of the wind's energy.
This doesn't mean clean energy will take over immediately. Chu said we ultimately hope to move away from nuclear power, natural gas, and coal, but that this would not completely happen until the next century. Most conference participants conceded the need to seek out new sources of crude oil for the time being, but for the long term, none mentioned any fundamental changes to our lifestyle. No restructuring of cities, and no smaller cars, refrigerators, or houses.
Chu concluded his presentation by showing a picture of Earth taken by Neil Armstrong. The lush green and blue of the globe contrasted harshly with the barren landscape of the moon. "There's nowhere else to go, so we should really take care of what we have."
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.