US energy spending must increase to impact climate change

A leading source of opinion in the scientific world has called for US President Barack Obama to increase spending on energy R&D in order to make a meaningful difference to the climate change issue.

The 29 January editorial of Nature says Obama must following up emphasis given to global warming in his second inaugural address by pursue concrete measures, the most important amongst them being increased spending on R&D in the sphere of energy.

According to Nature US spending on research and development in the area of clean energy is far from sufficient, with estimates several years ago calling for a tripling of spending levels:

The United States’ current US$4-billion energy-research portfolio is not up to the task, and almost everybody recognizes as much. In 2010, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommended boosting the federal energy-innovation budget to $16 billion. The Brookings Institution, a Washington DC think tank, has argued that even a small carbon tax could provide up to $30 billion annually for energy research.

While these numbers may appear exorbitant, the Nature editorial points out that in the 2012 fiscal year alone, the US government spent $73 billion on R&D related to defence, and over $31 billion on health R&D.