Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14th: crowds, craziness, the Secretary of Energy, and more

I haven't caught up on posting from the weekend, but a bit of news from Monday the 14th. A LOT of delegates arrived over the weekend. With registration closed yesterday, the crowds at the Bella Center were staggering (over 4 hours of waiting in line to get badges). The metro line couldn't even stop at this site, so we had to walk from the previous stop. Demonstrators have begun showing up in greater force adding to the crowds and difficulties entering the center. Fortunately, I had my pass, so it wasn't too bad to get into the building after careful scrutiny of our badges by several police. And then the daily screening -- like going through airport security. Interestingly, you have to remove belts, but not shoes. And if you have a bottle of liquid, you have to drink it in front of the security guards! I can't imagine what it will be like in the next few days as at least 110 heads of state arrive!

Starting tomorrow, people entering the center will need to show secondary badges which were distributed over the weekend. Each delegation only receives badges for 30% of the number of individuals listed on their official delegate list. So, our students and alums have had to do some critical thinking and problem solving to map out their plans for the rest of the week.

News from the COP15 site isn't promising.

I attended the briefing by Secretary of Energy Dr. S. Chu (another Nobel Laureate; Physics, 1997 where he announced the U.S. "climate readiness" plan - REDI (Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative) worth $350 million. This includes
1) a "Solar and LED Initiative" to replace wick and hurricane lamps around the world that contribute to air pollution (particulates) and the 1.6 million air pollution related deaths per year.
2) a Super-efficient Equipment and Appliances Initiative
3) a Clean Energy Information Platform to share best practices, mapping of deployment hot spots (e.g. high wind spots), etc.,
4) scaling up the Renewable Energy Program, and
5) the creation of a Clean Energy Ministerial in Washington D.C. in 2010.
Prior to the announcement, Dr. Chu gave an overview of U.S. innovations that have been important in the energy sector since the 1950s (the development of the solar cell, the first transistor, the Pentium cpu, the first laser, the internet). He is, by the way, a physicist. He talked about the large investment into a clean energy economy stimulated by the Recovery Act ($80 billion)
The new computer aided design tools for buildings with embedded energy analysis and the sensors and controls for real-time optimization of energy efficiency ideas discussed were interesting as were the new ideas for all liquid metal batteries and the use of jet engine technology for the next generation of compact wind turbines. (The images made me think of those James Bond movies were the bad guys get sucked into the turbines and realized the new concerns that this will bring to my birder friends who hae great fears about wind energy.) There is a new ARPA.e grant program for transformative energy research($400 M in 1st two years; my friends in CUR will know why I emphasized transformative. If I heard correctly, had 100 times more applications than they can fund.
Interestingly, after a very technical presentation, Dr. Chu quoted U.S. astronaut Bill Anders, William Faulkner and Martin Luther King!

The students were commenting last night on how multidisciplinary and multicultural this event is and how they are so glad that they attend a liberal arts college!

Jaime's post reminded me of a beautiful book I browsed through this morning:
A Climate for Life
If you have ever seen CI's "Hotspots" volumes, they are extraordinary photography collections -- regardless of your position on climate change.
Conservational International has a lot of good information about the issues at COP15 (from an ecological perspective) at their website:

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