Sonntag, 21. Oktober 2007

Solar Washington

Bush did his best. He saved me one flight to the US. But here I am again - in sleepy, muggy Washington. It somehow doesn't feel right that a city whose power is causing so much havoc around the globe is so serene, so leafy, so quiet.
This time, I am here with the money boys. I am at the World Bank trying to persuade them to foster investments that secure the planet and us a future ... It's not going too well, frankly. Even the German development minister somehow fails to see that saving the climate through investing in oil, as the World Bank does, may not be the best strategy ...
Last night, there was an avalanche of first impressions. I had been reading the Shock Doctrine again on the plane. And on the bus from the airport, I passed ITT and many other corporate headquarters about whose involvement in Latin American coups and other shenanigans I had just been reading. When I reached Metro Square metro station, I was hit by a solar blitz. BP had plastered the whole station with slogans such as "solar power to the people". I felt pretty cynical about this. BP, after all, famously spent more money on their "Beyond Petroleum" rebranding campaign than they had, at that time, spent on renewable energies. This preposterous 'marketing' earned them a 'Green Oscar' - the premier award for corporations acting green (while, in reality, cooking the planet).
However, the ads made me curious. They advertised a 'Solar Decathlon' -which meant nothing to me. So, this lunch time, I went to check it out. And - it was cool (and not just a BP show)!
Basically, the Solar Decathlon is a design competition for solar-powered homes that have to produce more energy than they use. There were 20 such homes on view at the Mall over the last week. Many were really neat (and one designed by the German University of Darmstadt won the prize). Even neater, though, were the long queques of people trying to see them - talking excitedly, asking about prices, sure to tell their neighbours when they get home. Let's hope there are some World Bank staff among the neighbours. A solar housing boom - globally. Funding that - now that would be public money well spent ...
P.S. On the flight home, I read the official document of the Decathlon. And some stuff in there made me angry. The students who built these great houses, it states, are "working towards the goals outlined in President Bush's Solar America Initiative" ... and "events such as this bring to life the President's American Competiteveness Initiative". Hardly. Events such as this show Bush to be out of touch and way behind. They show the true potential of solar, which is ready to rock - now. May the next Decathlon, 2009, have a better foreword by a better Secretary of State!

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