Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Tag "Climate Change"
on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Our very own Honey.(Credit: Lisa Ostrovska)

If you’ve recently set foot in the dorm gardens between W16 and K24, a few medium-sized boxes may have caught your eye. Once you approach, you’ll notice the signs that warn you not to get too close – you’re not supposed to disturb the bees that have been there since spring.

Responsible for them is Daniel Bauer, a local beekeeper who runs an apiary in the botanical garden in Blankenfelde, about 3 kilometers north of campus. I meet him in the office of the administration building to talk about his work with bees, the environment, and how the collaboration with BCB came to be one Friday morning in late August. Before we begin the interview, the beekeeper gives me a jar of honey as a sample, which I gladly take home to my apartment. By the time I sit down to type up the interview, the jar is already half empty and my fingers sticky, a result of my roommate and I shamelessly sneaking spoonfuls straight out of the jar while savoring the last days of summer.

By now the first big batch of honey has arrived at the school and is a part of our cafeteria’s breakfast buffet.

After Daniel Bauer sits down on the couch in the administration building and I have set up the recorder, he points to a small red dot above his left eyebrow that I would have otherwise overlooked: A bee sting. When I ask how often this happens, he shrugs it off with a smile and tells me that being stung is just inevitable if you’re a beekeeper, despite the fact that he wears a protective suit:

When I started, I just wore a sort of veil around my head, but the bees find a way to get through it everywhere. Then I had a jacket with a veil, and by now I’m wearing an overall, a closed suit to prevent the bees from coming through almost entirely. But it still happens occasionally, and I generally get stung around five times a day. The stinger stays in the skin, so you have to pull it out very quickly so you don’t get too much venom in the wound. But you get used to the pain.

Don’t get me wrong – every sting hurts just as badly as the first one, but you learn to look ahead and keep working rather than think about the pain. The thing about beekeeping is that you’re in nature a lot, and there is always something trying to distract you. Either it rains, or it’s cold, the bees buzz around, you get stung, but you just have to try and stay focused. And this way even being stung becomes a minor thing.

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Two people wading through Irma’s flooding (Credit: USA Today)

Various Caribbean island states and the southern coast of the United States were devastated this summer by a sequence of catastrophic hurricanes. Killing roughly 241 people, hurricanes Irma, Maria, Harvey, and Jose wreaked havoc on the lives of thousands, literally sweeping away livelihoods and costing 100s of billions of US dollars in damages. Mainstream media outlets in the US have covered these disasters extensively with CNN reporting on the tragedies of fathers killed by flying tree limbs and dolphins found on front lawns. In reading these sorts of stories, I found myself troubled, becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their subtle ideological slant. Yes, mothers and fathers have been killed by these hurricanes; this is most certainly tragic. But in the narrative media tragedies being displayed to the public, I sensed a veiling of the further-reaching travesty of these hurricanes: that these events are the ominous manifestations of a changing climate.

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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?”


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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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