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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Solar Salon

Air Date: Week of

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Renewable energy was a big focus in talks at this year’s Earth Summit. To test a possible application, Connecticut GOP Congressman Christopher Shays puts his hair where his mouth is and gets a solar-powered haircut.


SHAYS: My wife told me I needed a haircut, and I understand that all of this is powered by solar?


SHAYS: The clippers is solar powered?


CURWOOD: Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican from Connecticut. You’re going to get a haircut here?

SHAYS: I’m going to get a haircut, and it’s powered by solar energy. I know I have a good barber. My only concern is that I’m going to have a hard time getting here to get a second one.


CURWOOD: Some people might say this is a metaphor for what’s going on in the world energy-wise, your haircut and what the world is facing.

SHAYS: You mean, because I’m losing a lot of my hair, is that what you mean? [LAUGHTER] You mean my head is threatened and so is the world, is that what you mean?

CURWOOD: What I mean is that some people think that we should trim our use of energy and certain forms of energy.

SHAYS: Well, clearly, we need to do a much better job. We need economic development. But we have a threat. Global warming is for real. Climate change is for real. It doesn’t sound very loud, but it’s able to cut my hair off, huh?


CURWOOD: How well do the clippers work here using solar power?

MINOR: They have enough energy to go on for the whole day.

CURWOOD: And what’s your name?

MINOR: My name is David Minor.

CURWOOD: And we’re in your barbershop, which is actually this big yellow shipping container. And next door there’s a juice bar, and there’s, what, an electronics repair show, and a business center where there are a bunch of computers.


CURWOOD: How do you feel using solar power?

MINOR: It makes me feel great because it is part of environmental safety.

SHAYS: I just got to tell you, my head isn’t round, so if you press too tight, you’re not going to have a good haircut here.

CURWOOD; You sit in the Congress. What kind of things can you do in Congress to be responsive to the calls here at the World Summit?

SHAYS: All the financing that the major developed countries are doing for the undeveloped countries, ten percent, at least, should go for energy that is sustainable. When we help a third world country invest in a fossil field plant, we’re stuck with that plant, they’re stuck with that plant for the next 50 years. And yet, they could start fresh. They don’t have to make all the mistakes that were made in the United States.

Uh…I’m getting a little concerned. You’re laughing. Are you laughing at my haircut?


CURWOOD: Well, you know, there was a guy, what was his name? Kojak?


SHAYS: You know, this is a tough interview, because while you’re asking me important questions about the future of the world, I’m wondering what I’m going to look like when I show myself to my wife.

CURWOOD: Christopher Shays is a Republican Congressman from Connecticut. Thanks for taking this time with us.

SHAYS: Thank you for taking the time with me and for laughing as I get my haircut.




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