After the Crash


Earthfuture: Stories from a Sustainable World

The Dawning of the Solar Age

Berlin, August, 2010

Mimi lay back on her bed and watched the sun pour in through the window of the third-floor apartment in Berlin that she shared with Hans. Out on the balcony the window boxes were full of deep blue lobelia and red geraniums, and her thick, juicy tomato plants were soaking up the heat. They loved it out there, sun-trapped in their urban home.

Mimi still found it a struggle, coming to terms with the fact that this would probably be her last summer on Earth. These would be the last months when she would gaze onto the incredible, ethereal blue of the summer sky, probably clearer than she'd ever known it now that the air pollution was reduced; the last summer when she would follow the dance of the swallows between the rooflines. Thirty-seven years she'd had, to enjoy this thing called life.

The latest strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis had gotten into her lungs. She had probably caught it among the street people, many of whom were active in the solar movement. With no drugs to control its virulence, it was only a matter of months before she coughed her final cough and left this beautiful world forever. She could no longer listen to Kurt Weill or Edith Piaf - they were too alive for the bitter-sweet melancholia that filled her soul. Debussy, Ravel, and Beethoven's final quartets - these were her choice of music these days.

From five floors above, Mimi could hear the occasional thud of a hammer as the housing co-operative's work crew installed the solar shingles. By waiting until they had signed up 400 houses, they had negotiated a 15 percent discount on the price, sufficient to win consensus within the co-op. It was great that the Solar Fund was there to provide the financing, no questions asked.

It had been back in 2002 that Mimi had first proposed adding solar cladding to the roofs of the three apartment buildings that made up their co-op. Since then the price had fallen from 40,000 deutschemarks to 6,000 for a typical 800-square-foot apartment. To think that as recently as the mid-1990s, it cost closer to DM 100,000. That was around the time when Mimi had first grasped the danger that climate change posed to the planet, and started looking for alternatives.

Sometime next spring, Germany would hit the ten percent mark, when ten percent of the country's energy would come from renewable energy. Mimi knew she might not be around to see it happen, but she could anticipate the celebrations. Ten percent by 2010 meant that Germany was on target for the end of fossil fuel use by 2025. If the rest of the world matched their progress, it would mean an earlier stabilization of the planet's troubled atmosphere and a gradual reduction in the terrible storms, floods, droughts, hurricanes and forest fires that had been devastating the world. With solar, wind and other renewable energies increasing their share of the market by twenty percent a year for the last eight years, the 100 percent target had been officially recognized as reachable. Denmark had reached ten percent as far back as 2002, thanks to the offshore windfarms and the wind turbines that the farmers' co-operatives had been installing all over the country.

To be continued.......

Yuk - so I have to buy the book ?

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But, but.....

Well, OK - but promise you'll at least ask your local Library to order a copy ? You'll need to go to the library, and fill in a "Suggestion to Purchase" form.

So here's the next few paragraphs :

Holland was next : they hit their target in 2008, following an all-out drive by the Economic Affairs Ministry to make renewable energy the driving force behind the country's economic development. Thanks to government support, Dutch wind turbines were generating energy from Chile to China, earning good money for Dutch businesses. They'd had the smarts to see where the future lay at a time when the United States and Canada were still subsidizing the oil, gas and coal industries. As recently as the year 2000, Mimi recalled, the world's governments were giving the fossil-fuel industry the unbelievable sum of $650 billion a year of taxpayers' money - S74 million every hour, twenty-four hours a day. It was good that those days were over, she thought.

She hoped Hans would be home soon. When she recalled the work they had done together over the past seven years, she felt so grateful to have had a partner who supported her enthusiasm. She was so vulnerable these days, emotionally. A tear slipped down her cheek, and she was assaulted by another wave of the awful coughing, and the bloody mucous that her body threw up in its vain attempt to reject the disease that had taken up occupation in her lungs.

Hans was a poet, a wild, crazy poet whose thick black hair stood up on end. Mimi used to say he must be receiving a constant shockwave of energy from the gods for it to stay that way. Only in Berlin, Mimi thought, could people like Hans be accepted and earn a decent living from their craziness. By contrast, Mimi was small, petite and dark, scarcely more than five feet tall - but filled with a love of music and a devotion to the planet and everything that lived on it. Her father said there must have been some Jewish or gypsy blood in the family, which had somehow escaped Hitler's obsession with purity.

That's it !