Samsø Island

Photo by Demotix Images

One of benefits of traveling is seeing how they do in other parts of the world. We haven’t been there, but Samsø Island in Denmark was one of the side trips delegates could take during the climate conference and is worth talking about. The island is a example of what can be done with renewable power and it has a unique history.

In 1997, the Danish Energy Agency sponsored a nationwide contest to select an island near the coast, which had the best plan to be 100% energy sustainable in 10 years. Samsø was selected as the best place to run this controlled experiment. The island, with a population of just over 4,100 people, now gets 100% of its electricity sourced from wind power and about 75 percent of its heat coming from renewable energy, including burning locally grown straw. To see more about Samso, you can watch this video by John Larson( for those with long Alaskan memories, John is a former News Director for KTUU-TV in Anchorage).


Good morning everyone,

Lots of interesting stories out of the summit the past few days, including U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s announcement to create a $350 million fund to encourage the development of renewable energy projects in the developing world.

For those wondering, Copenhagen is 10 hours ahead of us here in Alaska so just about the time we get up, the day is coming to an end over there.  (I did try to install a world clock on the site to make it easy to keep track, but wasn’t able to find one that worked on a WordPress.com site. If you know of one, please send me a note at s.nowers@REalaska.org)

More Copenhagen highlights

Just a few more pictures and highlights from Chris’ time in Copenhagen.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu presenting a symbolic "Act Now" clock to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The clock included a half million signatures.

On Friday night, I went to Klimaforum and looked at the exhibits, which included photography of places like the Maldive Islands, probably the first nation that will literally be underwater if sea level rise accelerates. Klimaforum is billing itself as the people’s forum and it certainly was. There were thousands of people there.  Check it out at www.klimaforum09.org

Saturday I listened to some of the speakers at the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Program at the Danish National Museum. I also looked at the Museum’s special exhibit on climate change that included a whole section about the “caribou people,” the Gwich’in people of northern Alaska.

Sunday highlights

Clean energy expo

I spent most of Sunday at Bright Green, www.brightgreen.dk, a clean energy expo held at the city’s main convention center downtown. It was full of booths representing renewable energy companies, design firms, automobile makers, national trade representatives and consulting companies.  I had lots of great conversations and will be hauling back about five pounds of paper materials with me to Alaska to show my colleagues.

I was particularly interested in the universities that were there talking about sustainability curricula, and research and development.  I saw at least one technology I’d never seen before  – a design for wave power that allows the mechanism to rise out of the water during storms to avoid being damaged.  The company, Wave Star Energy, www.wavestarenergy.com, was started by a group of Danish brothers who conceived the design while sailing. There are so many businesses in this world that are grabbing onto the clean energy revolution! Unfortunately, it’s clear that America is behind the curve. The good news is there’s a huge amount of possibilities that lie untapped. Alaska still has a chance to be a leader if we seize the moment. Continue Reading »

Marching in Copenhagen

After lunch on Saturday, I wandered over to Parliament Square (Christianborg) to see how many people had begun assembling for the planned march to the Bella Center.  I watched a group of highly organized volunteers unloading thousands of placards and signs from a truck, hanging up banners, preparing the stage and cooking huge pots of vegetable soup.  When I retuned an hour later, the crowd had begun to build.  By the time the speakers came on stage at 1 p.m., there were (by Danish Policy estimates) 100,000 people there. (A New York Times story put the number at tens of thousands.)

Vandana Shiva

I was right in front of the stage.  For about an hour the crowd heard from a diverse group of people, including a huge Bollywood movie star, a Peruvian supermodel, and a member of the Danish Parliament. Vandana Shiva, an Indian author and activist seemed to really resonate with Continue Reading »

©Left Eye Productions

My second 24 hours in Copenhagen were full of walking, listening, watching, and walking some more.

I attended several enlightening lectures, including one about polar bears that really grabbed me.  Even though I live in Alaska and know a little bit about the bears, I learned a ton from Steve Kazlowski, a photographer who has spent about six months each year in the Arctic for the last decade.  I’ve never seen so many amazing pictures of the creatures.  The polar bear has become an iconic symbol of global climate change because its Arctic ice habitat is disappearing and many scientists are predicting its demise this century.  Among other things Kazlowski talked about was Continue Reading »

Pre-melt polar bear (Photo by Reuters)

Found a little more info on the melting polar bear that Chris took a picture of, and also a pre-melt picture here. The bear skeleton is actually made of bronze and was made by renowned sculptor Mark Coreth as part of an exhibit by the World Wildlife Foundation. Coreth, in a CBC story, said this about the work: “When the skeleton begins to appear, it’s going to become terrifying. When the bronze appears, it is going to take warmth through the skeleton and melt that ice even more,” he said. “That is akin to a lack of ice in the arctic north — the deep, dark ocean absorbs heat and continues to melt it.” To see Chris’ picture of the bear, click here
Stephanie Nowers