On 1 April 1975, the construction machines arrive in Kaiseraugst – 9 miles from the centre of Basel, Switzerland – for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Hundreds, later thousands of people – from all age groups, professions and political parties – become involved in the non-violent resistance against this project. The territory was occupied. The construction was stopped. In 1988, the project was abandoned.
Kaiseraugst was the beginning of my involvement with clean energy. Later, as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston, I was a student of Bernard Lown, the founder of IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 1985). I learned about the connection between atomic weapons and nuclear power and started the Swiss chapter of IPPNW in 1981. We invited David Freeman to Switzerland. He started a successful energy efficiency programme as the CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority and cancelled several nuclear power plant projects.
I tried also to make my life more energy efficient. I stopped driving. I disconnected my 16th century house in the mountains from the electric grid for two years and lived with the old wood stoves and with candles. Later I made good roof insulation and installed a solar water heater and a heat pump in the mountain house, and a solar water heater and wood pellet heating in a small wood house that I let to people. I bought solar electricity for my houses. I became a vegetarian 20 years ago. I stopped flying. But the biggest joy I discovered was walking.