Climate Chronicles: Poznań Conference, Secretary Chu, and a Climate-controlled Beach

As President-elect Obama continues with the pre-Inauguration
transition process, selecting secretaries for every cabinet office under the
sun, a few appointments stand out as particularly significant to those of us in
the geography education community.

One is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; we’ll have more
on him in coming weeks. Another of these executives, the one who will have
particular influence on sun-related matters, is Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Geographers know that aggressive action is needed NOW to
address the climate crisis; as readers of our blog will be aware from our
continuing coverage
of the topic. Unfortunately for the planet it seems
that tangible progress is unlikely–at least until the new leadership arrives
in Washington–as demonstrated by proceedings
of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań,
last week. Once again the nations of the world failed to agree to a
resolution that would hold parties accountable and represent real, progressive
action toward reducing our collective global carbon footprint.New York Times
environment columnist Andy Revkin covered both the Poznań
and Chu’s
on his Dot
Earth Blog
last week; check it out for more on energy issues and to see how
droves of impassioned readers weighed in.

My hope is that President Obama does not become too
preoccupied with other undeniably important challenges, like healthcare
provision and reviving the struggling economy, to follow through on his
campaign promises to take difficult, necessary steps to address the climate
challenge. And luckily, I don’t think it’s too audacious a goal.

But meanwhile, recent reports reveal that prospectors in Dubai, United
Arab Emirates, are developing plans for the first
air-conditioned beach
. That’s right; the beach will feature a system of
heat-absorbing pipes under the sand and giant wind blowers to keep tourists
cool. I’m sure it will be a nice complement to the city’s indoor ski slope. Does
it get any more wasteful in terms of
energy expenditures and carbon emissions?

It seems to me that if entrepreneurs in the Arabian Desert can develop technology to allow visitors
to ski and sunbathe without ever leaving the comfort of their own resort, then visionary
leaders and technocrats in the global community ought to be able to develop the
political and technological capacity to make inroads on the climate crisis. But
maybe that’s just my own audacity of hope talking.

What do you think? What are your hopes for new Secretary of
Energy Chu, and for international energy leaders, in the coming months?

Sarah for My Wonderful World

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