Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Not another climate article



The Silent Climate March in Berlin, 2014 (Photo by Karl Jurka / Silent Climate Parade e.V.)

The Silent Climate March in Berlin, 2014 (Photo by Karl Jurka / Silent Climate Parade e.V.)

Yes, this is another article about climate change. Yes, I am only an 18-year-old girl from Germany that has never experienced the consequences of climate change. I am not an expert on this topic. Yes, I consume and travel, so I am part of the problem myself. So, you might ask, why am I the right person to tell you to get up and save our planet? I will then ask you: why do I feel the necessity to justify myself for demanding a change when it comes to our planet?

To me, climate change has always been connected to fighting. I imagine the disturbing Greenpeace pictures of birds fighting against the plastic rubbish they find themselves caught in, or pictures of small children struggling to survive after climate catastrophes. This article is not supposed to be a reminder of all these images that we are confronted with every day. My father works in the area of regenerative energy, so from early childhood on he taught me the importance of our environment, and that its fragility is always a good reason to fight.

In a recent newspaper, there was a very short and well hidden article about 2014 being the hottest year in the history of climate recording. The article said that the average temperature on Earth, which is around 15° C in September, rose to 15,7° C this year. We cannot deny that the climate is changing, but a rise of 0,7° C is no alarming number. As long as there is snow in winter and the sun shines brightly in summer, we should not be worried. Climate change is still far away. Right? -Wrong.

Responsible for the rise of temperature is, undoubtedly, climate change. Recent statistics predict a 4°C rise of the worldwide temperature if the worldwide CO2 emissions stay the same until 2100. Climate change is not only about rising temperatures. With the pollution of the environment and the overuse of natural resources we destroy the ecosystem we live in. An exponentially growing society is concurrent with a growth of consumption which destroys nature even more. Scientists talk about the “point of no return” at which the destruction of the environment will be so advanced that we cannot have an influence on the state of our earth any more. Scientists are divided about when we will reach this point and what is waiting there for us. But these statistics and statements are not created to make us think that climate change is an issue of the future and that we should not be concerned right now. We can already see the consequences of climate changes today, even though its exact dimensions remain unknown.

Climate change is most of the time invisible, except when there are climate catastrophes. Sadly, the proverb “out of sight, out of mind” describes the problem best. Why should we change our daily routine if we do not have to fear any consequences? Why should climate change bother us if some of the most influential politicians are not worried themselves? And if they do not feel the urgency to take action and take responsibility. Not only they have the responsibility to make a change, we ourselves cannot abdicate the responsibility for climate change anymore.

Tiergarten in fall 2014 - what it will probably look like in the future if we don't act (photo by the author)

Tiergarten in fall 2014 – what it will probably look like in the future if we don’t act (photo by the author)

On the 21st of September people demonstrated all over the world against climate change. According to the leading organization ca. 160 countries were involved in the “People’s Climate March,” with more than 670.000 people taking part. The biggest climate march in history took place in New York City. I saw numerous powerful pictures on the web taken at climate marches all over the world. But it is very uncertain if these powerful pictures will lead to a powerful action. At the UN conference on this topic which took place on September 23rd no real decisions for the climate conference in 2015 in Paris were made.

One of these protests took place here, in Berlin. Around 4.000 people marched from Neptunbrunnen near Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburger Tor in the center of the city. But there was a big difference between this protest and the protests all over the world. In Berlin every participant got headphones that played the same music. People did not only march through the city, they were dancing to music that people from the outside could not hear. This protest was like climate change — silent but dynamic. It was the intention of the organizers to gain the  viewers’ interest and call their attention to climate change. Their motto was: “Gesellschaft zu verändern soll Spaß machen” – which means: “Social change is fun.”

I really like their ideas, so I talked to Patricia Witkowski, a member of the organizing team of the Silent Climate Parade in Berlin about this topic. She stressed that her organization fights against climate change on two different levels. They try to catch people’s attention and make them realize that climate change is a problem that has to be solved right now. The Silent Climate Parade, whose number of supporters grows every year rapidly, is one of the actions with which they want to animate the people to support climate protection. People feel included in a huge community and no one is left fighting by his/herself. Additionally the Silent Climate Parade e.V. Team posts tips on how to make our daily life more environmentally friendly, petitions and accounts of climate organizations regularly on Facebook.

Moreover they exert pressure on the current government with their protests. The different governments abdicate their responsibility. It is a difficult question whom to blame for climate change. Every country is to some extent responsible and has to cooperate if climate change should be brought under control. Sadly, in this matter economic interests are more powerful, but it is our duty as citizens to raise our voices and show that the public opinion is more important than economic interests. The government cannot ignore its citizens who demand more climate protection.

Even if we do not feel the consequences of climate change right now, we should be aware of the fact that climate change knows no borders and no justice. Everyone is involved and everyone can influence the extent of climate change. We all have to work together and we need more organizations like the Silent Climate Parade e.V. that show us that we are not alone in our fight for more climate protection.

I talked to a friend of mine about this topic and he said that it is naive to think that human beings could destroy the planet that weathered so many catastrophes already. Why then should we humans have the power to destroy it entirely? Maybe he is right. Maybe he isn’t. But if you ask me, I do not want to give it a try. A more environmentally friendly life is not a huge limitation. Inform yourself about concrete steps you can take, for example at the Silent Climate Parade’s website  http://climateparade.org/ and raise your voice. The more people know, the more change will happen.


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2 comments
  1. Maureen Coffey says: December 8, 20143:10 pm

    “… girl from Germany that has never experienced the consequences of climate change …” Hm? You were never told you could never ride a toboggan again as your parents and grand parents did … and all of a sudden snow came back with a vengeance? What has plastic rubbish to do with climate change? Which children suffered from climate catastrophes? For any of the recent phenomena, be it hurricanes or blizzards or floods, there you’ll find newspaper reports that it is the “worst since” … “since” when? Since before global warming! Strange, ain’t it? There were worse events before we could blame climate CHANGE. How come? Maybe some more science is needed. Currently we have a warming hiatus and with the sun’s cycle reaching new lows we will have, even if 2014 was relatively warm, reductions. So far none of the tax-payer funden models has an explanation and by 2020 if trends continue, all of them will be at variance with real developments …

  2. Kirsten Gross says: April 23, 20156:23 pm

    I’m very interested in this article. It surprises me that people in Berlin are so interested in climate change and making changes to better the planet. In Columbus, Ohio, we have some sort of festivals for Earth Day and such. However, we do not have as many festivals as Berlin does, it sounds like.

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