Each day of COP23, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is hosting excursions for participants, delegates, observers, and the press, highlighting the actions of the state to promote renewable and sustainable technology. I took part in an excursion focused on hydropower in the southern region of North Rhine-Westphalia (the Sauerland). This trip included a tour of the pumped storage hydropower plant Finnentrop as well as a walk on the Bigge Skywalk, overlooking the Bigge Resevoir.
Made up of two artificial lakes at different heights, the Finnentrop power plant, part of Mark-E Energie, is responsible for meeting the energy supply demands of 400,000 people in the Sauerland. The plant is able to assist in managing the fluctuating power demands that occur each day. With an elevation difference of about 280 meters, it takes 300 bars to push the water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. It takes just 70 seconds for the turbines to come to full power, pushing the water up the pipeline. In addition to meeting fluctuating demands for energy that occur in a 24 hour period, the hydroplant is also able to balance out energy fluctuations that occur when other sources, such as wind, are less prevalent.
Biggesee is an area of recreation that also serves in the provision of energy and water to the region. Although planning for the reservoir reaches back until 1938, it wasn't until 1956 that the government decided to construct the damn, which took 9 years to build. Entire villages had to be moved in order to accommodate the reservoir and citizens of those villages were expected to pay for the supplies with a tax known as the "Bigge Penny", which was one penny for every cubic meter of water they used. In drier times, you can see the tops of the churches and houses from the villages that once stood where the reservoir now is. Today, the lake has many purposes. It provides water for up to 40% of the reservoirs in the river system and produces up to 24 million kWh of electricity a year. Water recreation is very popular, and there is a skywalk that overlooks the reservoir.
Images copyright EnergyAgency.NRW
Jessica was partially supported by NSF Award Number 1259896
Having spent the last three days attending the 23rd conference of parties in Bonn, Germany, hosted by Fiji, the message is clear. Our world is in dire need of climate action but what people don’t know is the world already has technology that can be implemented in order to make a difference and cut down on green house gas emission.
The future is now!
On Monday November 13th, 2017, I had the privilege to attend the “High-Level Opening of Global Climate Action”, featuring the governor of California Jerry Brown, as well as the co-founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation Bertrand Piccard.
This foundation was the first to fly around the world for 40’000 km using a solar powered plane. Meaning, for the first time in history, a flight was made without the use of fossil fuels. One of Piccards main philosophies is that our world has the technology available to act on climate change today, there is no need to wait for “innovation”. We are “wasting energy with devices that cause climate change” as Piccard explained and there is enough innovation to cut CO2 emission in half, with the technology provided TODAY.
Don’t wait for 2050!
Throughout this talk it became clear, we should not be waiting for 2050. With the technology provided today, the necessary changes can be made to begin cutting down on green house gas emission. This world has waited long enough for us to fix the damage we have done. As shown in the historic flight by Solar Impulse, the technology is available to act now on climate change. Will you choose to stay in the past, or believe that the future is now?
For more information, visit Solar Impulse.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 was Gender Day at COP23. As a woman, I felt a strong urge to attend at least one discussion focusing on women. I attended the “Behind Goal 13-Women Leading the Climate Agenda”. As the title ensues, goal 13 of the Paris Agreement is about taking action to fight climate change and the impacts associated. Therefore, this discussion involved women and their leadership role in fighting climate change.
The crowd was predominately full of all different ages, races, background and nationality. The event took place as a panel discussion with several leadership-driven women from all different societies and background. The one speaker who caught my immediate attention was Monica Araya. She is the founder of Nivela and Costa Rica Limpia. The main focus of this panel was her job and the advertisement of electric cars.
How are you perceived when you speak about the importance of electric cars?
Dr. Araya explained that the audience she is speaking with is usually men. They understand the concept, reasoning and benefits of the electric car. But they never believe. They don’t believe the product, because the individual explaining the product is a woman. Therefore, there is a lack of trust since woman would have less knowledge in male dominant field.
How do you break through the stereotype that cars are the domain of men?
“Humor, data, and homework” she replied with a smile. I was impressed by the level of confidence she held while discussing how the workplace is not gender balanced. My jaw dropped when she stated a common piece of feedback is “wow Monica you really know your stuff, but try to just stick to the product because you sound feminist”.
As for climate change directly, she explained how “we are in a transition to a world that won’t have fossil fuels…but at some point, it gets nasty”. These moments of transitions allow for difficulties to arise. Obstacles where women must take charge and lead the people. Leadership is often described as “bossy, unbearable…it’s a subtle dismissal and it’s not seen as leadership but rather bossy”. In fact, “a woman with strong views, who did her homework and knows the information… is seen as bossy and unknowledgeable”.
Every girl or woman has been called one of these terms. However, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, we should view it as a compliment. We don’t need to be empowered because WE ARE POWERFUL. Our whiny, grumpy and bossy titles should be worn with pride. For if you did the research, are knowledgeable and skillful you can lead in the fight against climate change and educate others.
Any male or female reading this, just remember…
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