Yesterday we had a dig at the new US Energy Secretary Steven Chu for his apparent flip-flop on the dangers of coal in relation to climate change. But at least he has started talking about the seriousness of the problem facing us. And the message is chilling.

“’We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California,” Chu told the Los Angeles Times in his first interview since taking office, outlining an apocalyptic vision of the future.

His stark vision for America is one where California’s farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act. Water shortages in the American West could become routine with dire consequences for California.

“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either. “I’m hoping that the American people will wake up.”

Chu sees public education as a key part of the Obama administration’s strategy to fight climate change — along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

I hope he changes his views on coal as well.