Eco-Death Zone Idylle

Put back up the Berlin Wall again already. For nature’s sake.

Wall

Bombweed. Yum! Wild Thyme, Burdock and Evening Primrose shimmy through concrete and broken stone…

As part of our new series The Illustrated City, Ali Fitzgerald reveals Berlin’s hidden spaces, where the flora and fauna are wild – if you know where to look.

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German Of The Day: Umweltsünder

That means environmental sinner. You know, like Germany? Head of the class when it comes to climate protection? Or so we were led to believe.

Trump

Despite pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, that awful, terrible US-Amerika – under that awful, terrible Donald Trump himself – leads the world in cutting CO2 emissions.

According to the numbers put out  by the IEA (already back in March), CO2 emissions have risen in most of the large national economies, Germany included. Some countries, however, bucked the trend and have succeeded in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas produced, including the USA, Great Britain, Japan and Mexico.

Damit verringern die USA ihre Emissionen schon im dritten Jahr in Folge. Die Deutschen halten sich für die größten Klimaschützer – auf dem Papier.

Germans Are Green-Minded?

Yeah, I guess. Unless it has to do with their cars.

Because when it comes to the numerous environmental and other crimes committed by VW, BMW, Mercedes & Co. (Dieselgate is just the tip of the iceberg), German car owners just don’t care. These companies could march into to Poland and nobody would say anything.

BMW

Germans are fastidious about separating trash into different recycling bins and have spent untold billions on the so-called Energiewende, the transition from nuclear and fossil-burning fuels for electricity generation to renewable sources.

Just don’t mess with their cars. It may be a cliché that Germans are obsessed with their four-wheeled companions, but that doesn’t make any less true. While all other major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, from households to industry, have seen declines since 1990, transport emissions, which account for 20 percent of the total, have increased.

Die Europäische Kommission lässt bei ihren Kartell-Ermittlungen gegen BMW, Daimler und Volkswagen nicht locker. Die Behörde werde in einer förmlichen Prüfung untersuchen‚ ob die Konzerne unerlaubte Absprachen bei Abgas-Systemen für Diesel- und Benzinmotoren getroffen haben.

German Of The Day: Klassenbester

That means top of the class.

Nitrates

And that’s what Germany is when it comes to all things green and environmental and renewable and organic and… You get the picture, right? Well, that’s what I thought up until recently, too. Turns out they’re not very good at restricting the use of nitrates, though.

Germany ‘to be fined BILLIONS‘ for breaking EU environmental laws after ECJ ruling – The ECJ ruled that Germany breached a Brussels directive by failing to take enough action to tackle water pollution. The verdict by the EU’s highest court, based in Luxembourg, came after growing concerns about the levels of nitrates in German water. Nitrates are widely used as fertilisers, but the chemical can harm the environment and cause health risks through water pollution.

Der Europäische Gerichtshof in Luxemburg hat Deutschland wegen Verletzung von EU-Recht verurteilt, weil die Bundesregierung zu wenig gegen Nitrate im Grundwasser unternommen hat. Geklagt hatte die EU-Kommission.

German Of The Day: Biodiesel

That means biodiesel. And it’s dangerous stuff. Just go ask the German Air Force.

Biodiesel

An entire squadron of Luftwaffe Tornadoes was out of action for a week because there was too much biodiesel in their kerosene. But at least the air quality around that airbase was exceptionally good for a few days, you know?

Meanwhile… The Bundeswehr is running out of tents and clothing now. Well, to be fair, it’s not the entire Budneswehr. It’s just their special rapid deployment forces.

Die Luftwaffen-Tornados auf dem Fliegerhorst Jagel in Schleswig-Holstein dürfen seit einer Woche nicht fliegen, weil dem Kerosin zu viel Biodiesel zugemischt war.

PS: I think this guy may have been given too much biodiesel, too.

Going, Going…

Gone.

CO2

Here’s another one of those well-intentioned-do-gooder-mandates-from-above-meeting-reality kind of things. Why is it that reality is always popping up its ugly little head all the time, anyway?

The two parties likely to form the next coalition government in Germany have agreed to give up on the country’s climate targets for 2020. The goal was to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels. In 2016, Germany’s had only reduced emissions by 28% versus the baseline (pdf), so the plan is now unrealistic.

There are two ways to interpret the announcement.

A charitable response would be that the news isn’t a surprise. Although Germany has made heavy investments in renewable energy, it has also been shuttering zero-carbon nuclear power plants since 2011. Giving up on the 2020 climate goals makes sense, especially if the coalition maintains the 2030 target of a 55% emissions reduction versus 1990 levels.

A harsher response would be that the news is devastating. “This damages the credibility of Germany but it also damages the whole international climate process,” Tobias Austrup, an energy expert at Greenpeace told the Financial Times. “Why should other countries stick to their climate goals if we don’t?”

German Of The Day: Gefangenenaustausch

That means a prisoner exchange.

VW

And that is what this guy, the German executive guy responsible for environmental questions in US-Amerika for VW who just got sentenced by a US court to seven years in prison and $400,000 – after “admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws” – is hoping for.

Of course in this case, if nobody can find a US-Amerikan prisoner in Germany worth swapping places with, the exchange could still take place between prisons, couldn’t it? At any rate, his lawyers would like to exchange his yucky American one for one of the more humane German kind.

This is another one of those cases where worlds collide, folks. Convicted murders don’t get seven years over here in Germany. And this wanted clown goes on vacation in Florida thinking nobody will notice (that’s where they busted him)? Here’s some more German of the day: Wer nicht hören will muss fühlen. Those who refuse to follow the rules shall feel the consequences.

Sieben Jahre soll der VW-Manager Oliver Schmidt wegen des Abgasskandals in einem US-Gefängnis sitzen. Doch der Verurteilte hofft auf eine Überstellung nach Deutschland – womöglich im Austausch mit einem US-Häftling.

PS: Are you ready for your free sample of Brain Quest – A Fantastic Voyage through the Progressive Mind? Be brave.

I Can See For Miles

Or at least for a kilometer or two.

Smog

Germany likes to see itself as a pioneer when dealing with environmental issues, but when it comes to implementing European standards, Berlin is hardly a poster child.

The European Union has opened 16 infringement procedures in total against Germany, for failing to implement environmental legislation on time or even at all.

And then there is: Shock…Germany To Come To Marrakesh Conference Empty-Handed! Withdraws Climate Protection Plan! Thanks for the tweet, Joe.

Greens Ready For Next Verbot

Coffee capsules. They’re colorful. They’re deadly. And they must be stopped.

Kapseln

According to German green scientists, these throwaway capsules produced “a mountain of garbage consisting of 5000 tons of aluminum and plastic” in 2014 alone. They refused to say where this mountain was located, however. The mountain is neither here nor there, folks. The important thing is that these capsules must be combated by introducing a so-called “deposit system” or “environmental tax,” two radical new German green ideas never yet tried before. It will be tough. And expensive. And annoying as hell. But we can only hope that their efforts will once again save our planet in time.

In Deutschland wurden dem “Spiegel” zufolge 2014 fast drei Milliarden Kaffeekapseln verbraucht. Das entspreche einem Müllberg von etwa 5000 Tonnen Aluminium und Plastik.

German Of The Day: Dreck Am Stecken

That means there is dirt stuck (to you) somewhere or you have dirt under your carpet – as in having done something wrong or illegal.

Dreck

You know, like Volkswagen has/does in US-Amerika? The company inserted a device into almost 500,000 cars meant to trick emissions testing, the EPA says. Volkswagen is not denying this.

So the next time Germans begin those tiring lectures about doing more for the Umwelt (another German word meaning environment), remember to make sure and check if their emissions are make-believe or not.

There are almost 500,000 vehicles on American roads with the devices installed, according to the EPA. Volkswagen must now pay to repair the emissions systems in affected cars. The government may also fine the company as much as $18 billion.