While waiting to hear whether the USA under Donald Trump will decide to uphold the aims of the Paris climate accords, northern Europeans are suffering unusually hot temperatures for the month of May, with the thermometer breaking 30°C (86°F) already in Paris and record temperatures set in Norway.
At least for the citizens of Nevers, in central France, a monument to the hope of a sustainable environment will provide a seat in the shade as the temperatures rise. The city unveiled a Sologic eTree yesterday,
Although the solar tree can never replace the shade and air cleansing quality of a natural glen, it does offer the opportunity to communicate a message to the community via the interactive LCD display built into the trunk and offers free wifi and docking stations for charging portable electronic devices. The tree powers a water cooler and delivers water to a trough for pets. At night, the "leaves" serve to illuminate the area below the canopy of the eTree.
It may not suffice to lead by example, demonstrating what's technically feasible as exemplified by the off-grid town of Feldheim in Germany or setting records in renewable energy generation. Without the clout of the USA to encourage the growing giants like China and India to balance global sustainability against short-term economic growth, mankind could miss the window for action to make a difference before the warming forces get away from us.
So for now we are left to celebrate the small wins. We can hope that enthusiasm for gadget technology will stoke the trend to find clean solutions regardless of which direction our political leaders choose to go.