Right at the beginning Dr. Aitken expressed his pleasure to be in Stuttgart: his father used to be the vice consul in the early 1930s, he also met his wife to be on the journey from America to Europe. Therefore celebrating the Earth Day in Stuttgart for Donald Aitken also meant a return to his own family roots. Very modestly the couple introduced themselves: both have made energy issues the mission of their lives. Barbara Harwood, an architect, runs a company to design energy efficient low budget houses; she also lectures on sustainable architecture and has written a best selling book "The Healing House" which has won several well known awards. Dr. Donald Aitken started his career as an astrophysicist at Stanford University, then changed to environmental sciences and founded "Friends of the Earth". Today he runs his own company, Donald Aitken Associates, a consulting firm aiming at sustainable energy use, the reduction of energy demand world wide and at creating a political basis for long term energy solutions nation wide.
During the entire dinner not only the Stuttgart experts took the opportunity to discuss with the American scientists, both Dr Aitken and his wife were very interested to find out what research is carried out at the moment in Germany, what attitude German businessmen had towards renewable energy - and what a politician's point of view was! The US still struggles to establish nation wide standards of energy efficient housing, only very few states aim directly at sustainable architecture which in the next 10-20 years would allow a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Even in the United States electric cars are still a novelty but, as Dr. Aitken says clearly, it needs people to support the industry by actually driving those cars in order to make them cheaper and more readily available.
The American couple left a strong impression with all the specialists present: not only did they show a high expertise and a thorough understanding of energy issues and all related topics - but they also made their hosts understand that they really cared! It was with passion and sensitivity that they both expressed their ideas and attitudes and no one was left untouched when Dr Aitken closed the talk with a quotation: "We have to keep the environment in our minds- and in our hearts!".
|Dr. Aitken's lecture on renewable energy - Report in English|
|Dr. Aitken's lecture on renewable energy - Report in German|
Poster Earth Day 2002