Archive for September, 2011

Paris

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I was back in Paris in September, giving lectures for the Executive MBA program that IFP runs in conjunction with the BI Business School in Oslo & the NTU Nanyang Business School in Singapore. This year’s class had energy engineers, financing specialists, and renewable technology developers, and was a well-seasoned cohort with an average age of forty. They invited me along on their evening dinner cruise on the Seine, and we passed by the Eiffel Tower just as its hourly light show started – which the nearby picture hardly begins to capture!

I was reading Jill Jonnes’ book Eiffel’s Tower on this visit, an interesting work which might have been more accurately entitled L’Exposition Universelle de 1889 à Paris, since it included significant chunks of material about Thomas Edison, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, and the painters Whistler and Gauguin, all of whom were participants in the international exhibition. What I found particularly interesting was the section near the end that described Eiffel’s considerable efforts to keep his tower from being demolished at the end of its twenty year contracted lifespan. It’s hard to believe that such an iconic and beautiful structure – what Jonnes calls “the most celebrated and instantly recognizable structure in the world” – had come close to such a dismal conclusion. But having read one of Jonnes’ previous books, Conquering Gotham, about the building of Pennsylvania Station (as well as the rail tunnels under the Hudson River) in New York City, I realize that such a fate might have been all too real.

I also took some time after my lectures and headed up to Normandy, to visit the beaches and battlefields that were the site of the WWII D-Day invasions in 1944. The visit included Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Army Rangers scaled 100 foot cliffs to tackle a German gun fortification; and the sweeping, wide-open Omaha Beach, whose bluffs must have seemed towering and impenetrable to soldiers landing under severe hostile fire. The cemetery and memorial at the top are testament to their bravery and sacrifice. It was a solemn location, and I’ve added Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day to my movie queue to revisit over coming weeks with a new perspective.


Pillbox view at Pointe du Hoc

UN ESCAP eForum

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In July, I participated as a moderator in UN ESCAP’s eForum, designed to address energy security issues within the region. I was assigned the topic ‘Improving the affordability of renewable energy options,’ and prepared the attached discussion note – and then led the eForum’s discussion on this topic on July 12th. More than 160 experts from around the world (mostly from the Asia/Pacific region) participated in the eForum, addressing eight energy security topics. The results will be used in preparations for an Asia-Pacific Energy Forum (APEF), which will be held at the ministerial level in 2013.