By Veronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis, MO – U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu delivered the commencement address this morning at Washington University.
Under a sky heavy with rainclouds, Secretary Chu predicted that climate change and rising oil prices would drive the need for a second industrial revolution - one that can meet the world's energy needs in a more sustainable way.
"In my day, students of America were at the vanguard of our country's disengagement from Vietnam. I look to you to engage America to solve the energy and climate problem."
Chu urged the more than 2,700 graduating students to use their idealism to "give our elected officials the ammunition to overcome the resistance of those who are easily frightened of the future, and want to cling to the status quo."
He told the students that climate change - and the need to find alternative energy sources - is one of the most pressing problems the world has to face.
The physics Nobel laureate said that for him, confronting the challenge of climate change is a deeply moral issue.
"It is one of the cruelest ironies of climate change that the ones who will be hurt the most are the most innocent: the world's poorest and those yet to be born."
Chu is an advocate for developing alternative energy sources including nuclear and biofuels.
He was born in St. Louis in 1948. His father taught chemical engineering at Washington University.