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Naomi Klein’s most recent publication, now available in the BCB library. (Credit: www.noisnotenough.org)

The eve of the 2016 election in November, while still on exchange in Paris and away from Berlin, I decide not to go to the viewing party that was set up by Sciences Po. Rather, I will stay in my roomy eleven square meter studio and wait for Hillary Clinton’s inevitable win with my Swedish friend. She, who normally studies in Glasgow, didn’t stay up late for the Brexit vote earlier that year in June, assuming like many of us that the sun would rise and the country would have voted to remain. As the November night unfolds and the results roll in, we get ahead of ourselves and figure it’s safe to take a little nap around 1am (Paris Time). The nap lasts longer than planned and we awake around four-thirty. Bleary-eyed, I walk over to the kitchen area of the apartment, a feat accomplished in two small, sleepy steps, and offer to make coffee.

Then, from my left, comes her voice: “Nathan, why are all of these states red?”

I respond: “What?”

Shock.

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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.

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The ECLA-Oxford Conference on Climate Change, Energy and Security opened up a venue for the first interinstitutional forum of enquiry from May 31 to June 2 on the ECLA campus. The topics of the conference corresponded with the themes covered by the elective course “Global Issues” offered by Dick Shriver in the Spring term. The course is a survey of the most prominent challenges to humanity, also outlined in the list of the issues recognized and declared in the Copenhagen Consensus of 2003. Dick Shriver – the organizer of the conference – integrated it into the course. The participants included ECLA students, students of the G8 Research Group of Oxford University, academics and practitioners. The focus of the conference was to employ an interdisciplinary approach towards addressing the needs and challenges posed by climate change, energy efficiency and politics. The talks presented at the conference sparked discussions on climate change, energy politics, economics, technology, entrepreneurship, national security issues and G8 policy.

One of the lectures of the conference was presented by Dick Shriver on “The US Political Scene Vis a Vis Energy Security” introducing the stand of the US on the current policies concerning climate change. In light of the American resistance towards regulations proposed and agreed upon by the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol the discussion took an interesting turn. The morning of the presentation, the newspapers announced a sudden change in George W. Bush’s tone regarding the policies dealing with climate change. The USA proposed a different approach toward the problem relying mainly on new technology rather than suggested reductions in CO2 emissions. The news sparked a lively discussion and shed more light on the complexity of the issues discussed at the conference.

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An Inconvenient TruthOn Friday the 16th of February, ECLA hosted a screening of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth”, which was followed by a stimulating debate on climate change and its implications. The organizer of the event, Rafael Ziegler, invited two guest speakers: Jens Reich (Professor of Bioinformatics at the Medical Faculty of the Humboldt University, Deputy Chair of the German National Ethics Council) and Gregor Betz (Lecturer at the Institute of Philosophy, Freie Universität) who provided the audience with important insights on the issue, both in terms of the film and of the phenomenon itself.

“An Inconvenient Truth” is a documentary film, narrated by Al Gore, the man who “used to be the next president of the United States of America”. The film was released in 2006 and since then has elicited substantial positive and negative attention. It was awarded an Academy Award as the strongest documentary film of the year and was recognized to have a considerable impact on the American and European public in particular.

The controversial content of “An Inconvenient Truth” proved to be the focus of discussions which followed the ECLA screening. Both Jens Reich and Gregor Betz asserted a substantial critique of the way the issue is presented in the film, arousing concerns and stirring a number of questions regarding the political and economical aspects of climate change. Dr. Betz also pointed out some scientific speculations asserting that “Europe is not going to have an ice age”, as argued in the film. The combination of the current reality, the scientific probability and the unempirical predictions generates uncertainty and creates the conditions for the ongoing climate change debate.

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