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|Kawamura: Science must lead the
We are stuck in the 20th century, ag secretary
Science needs to
take a stronger lead in setting future food and energy policy,
California Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura told a
gathering of the energy community Wednesday.
In a time
and place where people enjoy the "luxury of abundance," the
presence of many choices - in food as well as energy sources -
can create strong opinions that too often influence policy,
Kawamura said at the Sixth Annual Forum of the California
Biomass Collaborative in Sacramento.
how in our world, we're fighting (amongst) ourselves for what
kind of food should be on the plate," Kawamura said. "And it's
interesting, that carries on into the energy sector. We've got
nuclear, we've got petroleum, we've got solar, wind,
geothermal, we've got biomass; we've got a bunch of
"What happens very often is people form an
opinion on what their preference is for any kind of food
supply, and how it should be produced ... and they have a
preference for what kind of energy should be produced or not
produced," Kawamura said. "They demonize other kinds of
energy, they demonize certain kinds of foods, they make all
kinds of pretexts."
While food shortages afflict large
parts of the globe, policy makers argue over issues that
should be more clearly defined through science, Kawamura said.
But people often don't trust science.
"You start to
see some of the strangest bills coming out at a time on our
planet when two billion people would just like to have food on
a plate predictably, and they would like to have ... access to
energy," Kawamura said.
People are "distrustful of
government, they're distrustful of businesses ... they're
distrustful of science," he said. "They're afraid of it.
They're not quite sure they understand it. We know that we
have to do a lot of work toward ... raising the consciousness
of what's possible in the 21st Century."
the forum addressed the details of grid interconnection. A few
alternative-energy sources are addressed in state rules, but
biomass - including various cellulosic waste materials
produced on farms - is not handled well by current
That means the early users of new
biomass-fueled energy technologies are being discouraged,
"I hope ... that the early adopters are
not punished for going out and trying to make change ...
(that) in fact they're embraced and they're really given a
platform," he said.
"The science community needs to
really step up and open up people's eyes and invite them into
the 21st century," Kawamura said. "Because if we don't, we are
stuck in the 20th century with a lot of preconceptions, a lot
of misconceptions, a lot of challenges and beliefs. And when
people believe things, it's very hard to change (those