Friday, October 15, 2010

Thanks, Hermann, for everything

Last night, the Hermann Scheer passed away at the age of 66.  It is safe to say that no one has done more for the cause of renewables worldwide than Hermann.

His death comes as a bit of a surprise. Over the past few weeks, I have been in personal contact with him because he personally decided that I was to be the translator of his new book. Ironically, I sat down to begin the translation yesterday.

Until the very end, he remained very active. Only recently, he was in the running for the head position at IRENA, the international renewables agency he was principal in founding.

His input will be sorely missed. No one was able to dissect competition issues like Hermann.  I have therefore made available an interview that my agency translated last summer of him talking about Desertec (PDF).

One of the most fascinating and perhaps least understood aspects of his history was that he actually began his career at Germany's nuclear fusion research Center in J├╝lich, a phase of his life that is not even mentioned at his English Wikipedia site (though it is in the German entry). I was going to investigate this at a meeting with him this summer, which was postponed until the first week of November -- and it's not going to happen now.

But thanks, Herman, for your input over the decades. With renewables taking off now, there will probably never be another single person who can play such a pivotal role.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I don't miss about home

From the Gambit:
At least 70 of the 315 houses that Habitat for Humanity has built in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina have tested positive for corrosion problems caused by defective Chinese drywall, leaving people who were once grateful to Habitat for their homes feeling betrayed by the organization they had trusted.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wow, Sean Wilentz is worried...

... about the Tea Party (at the New Yorker):

It appears that the extreme right wing is on the verge of securing a degree of power over Congress and the Republican Party that is unprecedented in modern American history. For defenders of national cohesion and tempered adversity in our politics, it is an alarming state of affairs. 

A famous historian, he explains why the Republican party has been able to keep its own extremists in check over the past half-century -- and why it is failing to do so now. Excellent read.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scott Horton agrees

Over at Harper's, Scott Horton has something to add about my last post:

"If the terrorists’ principal object is to paralyze a society with fear, why should the government play right into their hands?"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home of the scared

US media are apparently full of reports about how Europe is unsafe because of threats of terrorist attacks. There is a good wrap-up at Der Spiegel about how the German media are just not buying it.

I should add that the German public isn't buying it at all either -- we simply aren't scared over here. The comments under this article at Die Zeit are revealing. Everyone is really tired of the "hysteric Americans." I especially like comment 4 entitled "Home of the Brave," which begins, "So much for that..."

Incidentally, a comment on the nightly news just prompted me to write this post. The woman on Channel 1 (ARD) said America apparently needs to feel like it successfully fighting something, but German politicians and security officials are remaining calm, "Und das ist gut so" ("as they should"). Those interested in seeing her comment can view it starting sometime tomorrow here.

I'm not saying that we won't be hit, but rather that being afraid is not going to help prevent terror. The public does not need to be warned about the danger of terror with some ludicrous color scheme like the one used just a few years ago because we are never told how we are to react differently anyway.