Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 15th, 2017

The Future of the Planet

Today, I will not write about electric bikes or sex, but about politics.

The Jamaican coat of arms

Jamaica

Currently, many people develop a sudden interest in the land of Bob Marley. It is about Jamaica, which, naturally, is only a silly word-play. It is all about the “Coalition Discussions“ (Koalitionsverhandlungen) in Berlin. We call them Jamaica because the coat of arms of this country is identical with the colours of the parties concerned (black, yellow and green).

I must admit that I had been hopeful for the Green Party to be the positive factor in these discussions.

But what is the Green Party doing?

They went to Berlin with demands that were probably justified but it is clear that these demands cannot be successfully pushed through during negotiations (which has already been proved). The first of these demands was that the combustion motor be abolished in the year 2030 (1) and the second was that all coal-based power plants be closed by the same year (2). Especially (1) sounds more than utopian. Besides, we do not need general goals but actual measures.

Electricity must replace coal, not use it up!

I will not comment on (2). After all, it is evident that the only way we can and must end the “dark” era when fossil energy was burned using electricity. Yet replacing coal by electricity cannot mean that half of the electricity world-wide is produced with coal. This must (and will soon) become a thing of the past. However, I find (1) a lot more exciting.

Driving an automobile is out!

Everybody must realize that an “individual mobility” based on electricity cannot and will not be the same as many of us now use the car. Just like “autonomous cars”, too, will not be driven in the same way as MEN and WOMEN drive them now.

2030 will soon be here!

In only 12 years, it will have arrived – that is as many years as the life-span of a car used to be. In that respect, what the Green Party demanded would have been rather easy to realize.

Prepare for the exit!

One of the factors is to quickly establish a speed limit – if necessary, why not step-by-step so that people can get used to it – but with a clear end even before 2020 at a maximum of 30 km/h in closed built-up areas, 70 km/h on secondary streets and 100 km/h on motorways. And, also step-by-step, a truly relevant and drastic increase in taxes on fossil fuel (including kerosene for planes). And if then the gigantic subsidies on “business cars” (at least the huge practice of abuse) were finally restricted, then the entire scenario would make sense!

Slim end efficient!

That would be a slim and efficient solution and it would raise hopes for a “soft landing”. It would also make quite a few stupid ideas, such as road charges, obsolete. And the Green Party, perhaps for good reasons, does not wish to be unpopular. Mind you, I personally believe that being unpopular brings you more votes than it costs you.

Investing in the future

And the money you get from all these projects must not be spent for building even more new motorway crossings on two levels with up to ten lanes, which today apparently, as a consequence of the motorway expansion having to happen on ever more lanes, has become a necessity. Instead, we should invest these moneys in a public transport system and, of course, in the “energy change” – which basically only means the abolition of nuclear and coal-based electricity production. As I see it, we are actually already quite well under way in this respect.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday January 23rd, 2017

Inflation in Local Traffic

I did not pay too much attention to the latest Deutsche Bahn price increase at the time when the schedule changed from summer to winter. I just had made a mental note that the “Deutsche Bahn increases its prices for long-distance travelling by 1.3 per cent on average”. That is what the SZ, too, had written.

The Shuttle Munich-Nuremberg Today on Arrival at Nuremberg.

But it turns out that was a myth!

On Saturday, I wanted to go to Augsburg with three other persons. So I ordered a Bayern-Ticket on the internet. My eyes almost pop out: it now costs 25 €. A very short time ago, it was 23 €. That means it is more expensive by 2 €, which is an increase of around 9 %.

Well, I can survive that, can’t I? But then comes the other surprise: all travellers sharing my ticket (up to four are possible) used to cost 5 € per person. Now they cost 6 € per person. That is 20 % more.

Consequently, the Bayern Ticket for our small group is now 25 € plus three persons à 6 €, which is 25 € plus 18 €, in sum 43 €. Well, that is no less than the price I occasionally pay for two long-distance DB tickets to Sylt (for instance in February).

Formerly, I paid 23 € plus 3 persons times 5 €, which was 38 €. Consequently, the price for the four of us increased from 38 € to 43 €. Well that is 5 € more, which means an increase of 13 %.

I also admire the “rounded prices” they so easily come up with. To be sure, cents are inconvenient and more and more shops simply round the sum when you purchase products. But simply obscuring the first digit after the comma – after all, we are talking 10 cents, that used to be 20 Pfennige – is a little strange to my way of thinking.

Incidentally, there is also an inflation on special tickets for all kinds of things: with and without local traffic in transport associations, for special regions, between cities or for a maximum distance. This is how they make everything more complicated. And if you include the basic moon prices and the similarly introduced low prices (special offers in long-distance travel), then the price policy of Deutsche Bank gets more and more bizarre.

This is how empty the shuttle looks at 4 p.m. – I always carry my chrome book.

However, I only get annoyed once in a while and later continue going places by train, because, for me, there is simply no alternative to railways. Consequently, I am also going to Nuremberg and back with the Bayern Ticket today after having paid my 25 €. After all, the train is a good place to sit and answer all your emails and write all your articles. That is something you cannot do when driving a car.

Basically, driving a car is out of the question for me these days. According to social research, the majority of our people are embittered. I, too, would be bitter if I had to spend one or more hours behind the wheel of car each day. I prefer going by train and enjoy seeing how google waits in front of the A9 traffic jam. It is my morbid delight in the failure of a stupid system.

Going by bus would be an alternative to going by train. But that is not my idea of travelling. I am a little spoiled because of the mostly rather empty DB region trains and do not enjoy being squeezed into narrow busses that are often forced over the streets of this republic in self-suicidal mode by their drivers. Besides, meinBus and flixBus had to cut their networks considerably and drop quite a few connections from their list of destinations, because the venture capitalists who own the companies no longer felt like permanently making up for the deficit.

So here is what I will do: I will continue to go by train and hope that the density of train services with the resulting mostly empty trains will remain the normal state of affairs. …

Incidentally, the German railway is not the only company where these enormous price increases can be observed. You can also find it in public institutions and quality food, as well as with some everyday articles. And in real estate.

Yet now I hear that, allegedly, the inflation rate is still less than 2 %. Basically, I do not believe they lie to us on purpose. But I certainly do not believe the 1,X % – and I think they are not really interested in telling us that our savings dwindle. Which also means that the chasm between the rich and the poor continues to grow. We already have ample opportunity to see the consequences and can speculate on more of them to come.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

The shuttle to Munich on January, 23rd, 2017 at Nuremberg Central Station, platform 12.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 10th, 2017

BICYCLE Culture – an Interview with Roland Dürre

I basically know Franziska Köppe from the EnjoyWorkCamp. It is a very nice barcamp promoting a new understanding of work that is held annually in Stuttgart. Franziska interviewed me about my bicycle enthusiasm. The result is something that is very important in my life – which is why I revised it a little bit and then saved it in my IF blog, as well. However, I tried to leave those parts that came from Franziska as they were in the original version.


 

Active Mobility – Promotion and Request

January, 3rd, 2017 – Are car drivers the coachman of our times? Mobility is undergoing change. Since the 1950ies, the automobile industry has been strongly promoted – especially by politicians. The sector is said to be “system relevant’”. It is closely linked to many providers, as well as with traffic planning and lobbyism. But is that “system relevant”? Start-ups and the crowd economy, as well as cultural changes with respect to the behaviour of not only our young generation threaten conventional business models. I talked about bicycle culture and his own contribution towards our future mobility with the entrepreneur and mobility activist Roland Dürre.
(introduction by Franziska)


 

The Interview

Franziska: Hallo Roland, please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you and what exactly do you do?

Roland: I do not know who I am. It feels to me like I am a human being, an activist, a blogger, a coach, a maker, an entrepreneur. I love life and my family. I try to be courageous and to very much enjoy what I do. After my retirement from the InterFace AG, it is – even more than before – my task to hand down experience and, if possible, to help others – especially younger persons – to become happy and successful. I am grateful for all the beautiful things I experienced in my life and will be happy if this gratefulness will further increase during my remaining years.

Franziska: One of your passions is riding your bicycle. What is the meaning of the word BICYCLE culture for you? What connotations does it have in your life?

Roland: Both culture and RIDING my BICYCLE are beautiful things. They go together well!
But let us look at what car culture brought us. Driving a car, I am totally isolated from everything that is outside my car. Other people become anonymous objects in other cars. I actually know people who, conscious of their own isolation when sitting behind the wheel of their car, use swear words they would never use in their normal environment. That is something I can easily understand.

Riding my bicycle, I am used to greeting cyclists I encounter. When standing at a red traffic light, I often start a conversation with persons riding on the bike next to me. I try to be considerate. As I see it, pedestrians should always have right of way before cyclists. But then, cyclists should also have right of way before cars.

Riding my bike, I see more that is happening around me. That is true both if I am on a bike journey in foreign countries and in Germany. Social contacts are quickly established. Riding my bicycle, however, I also see how many animals, such as toads, cats and dogs are killed by cars. It always makes my heart bleed.

Consequently, I see a correlation between driving a car and being ruthless and inconsiderate. Whatever is in the way of a car will be killed. Carbon dioxide is emitted, fine dust produced – and it all happens just because people want to be comfortable. It is normal to have 1.400,000 million fatalities world-wide, because you cannot do without a car. But the truth is: you can! I experienced it in a self-experiment. And you definitely feel better without a car.

Here is a cultural provocation: Car drivers are the coachmen of our times. Coachmen were not very well-liked, because whenever any of the common citizens were in their way as they drove through the narrow streets of the cities, they used their whips to beat them out of the way. In those days, coachmen were considered “scum and riff-raff?!

BICYCLE culture – a quiet and clean world with happier and healthier people.

Franziska: It is probably true that most of us – especially those living in big cities – consider mobility as something that has to be connected with a car. Mind you, not too long ago, it was a matter of course that people went by bicycle whenever they had to go somewhere that was more than five kilometre away. Let us return to bicycles. What kind of world would come to mind if you were permitted to dream BICYCLE culture?

Roland: A quiet and clean world with happier and healthier people. From a change in mobility concepts, progress in other areas of life would automatically develop. One of the things I like to say is: If someone cannot even get a grip on his or her mobility, how are they supposed to get a grip on their entire lives? After all, you cannot get anywhere without the “desire and ability to live a responsible life”.

Roland Dürre on his way from Salerno to Pisciotta

Franziska: So far so good. Except that the reality in everyday life does not look quite so blue and rosy. You already said it: That is one of the reasons why you are actively promoting “active motility”– AktMob, as you call it  ..

Roland: That is true. I know many streets in Munich where it is no fun at all to ride a bicycle. And on my big tours, it also happens time and again that I have to struggle through a street where I am really afraid I might die.

Mind you, AktMob is not just about riding a bicycle. It is about any sort of mobility that is not horse-drawn carriages, combustion motors or electronic cars. All that matters is that you are moving under your own steam. Be it with roller-blades, skate boards, hiking or using the

Franziska: In the traffic sector, cars as individual means of transportation have been promoted since the 1950ies. It was based on the political concept of the economic boom in Germany. Unfortunately, even this short time was enough to make our cities inhuman. Strange as it may seem, pedestrians and cyclist no longer belong to traffic in the cultural sense. Especially a look at kindergardens and schools every morning shows how absurd this sometimes is: children are driven by car because, due to all that traffic, it would be too dangerous for them to walk. How grotesque is that?

Cars as status symbols in the economic boom world.

Roland: What a good example! Cars were, indeed, not just an object that took you from A to B – especially for men. As soon as you had a driver’s licence and a car, you were at long last grown-up. It is certainly not totally wrong to call a car a phallic symbol. And sitting behind the steering wheel of a vehicle, men in particular feel omnipotent. Can you imagine anybody not liking that feeling?

But even more than that, the car was a status symbol in the economic boom world for Germany and the world where everybody was recuperating. The car is perhaps the best metaphor for bought happiness as a substitute for needs not being met.

When we were still young men and had no cars, we always got the impression that the beautiful young girls clearly preferred the men who owned cars – while they looked down their noses upon us non-car owners.

But the car was also a symbol for freedom – like the cigarette. And it was also a new private space – in the US, for instance, they say that there were several years during which more than half of the children were made on the backseats of cars. Even the Kinsey report said so. And these motorized vehicles certainly also were a nice thing when it came to our laziness. Well, and that such a god-like vehicle – especially when its marketing was also optimal and emotional – won over everything else is rather clear, isn’t it?

The critical mass – riding bicycles together

Franziska: With activities “We Are Traffic”, there are so-called Critical Masses on a monthly basis, both in Germany and world-wide. Cyclists make use of §27 of the StVO, which says that, as soon as they are more than 15 (critical mass), they may drive together. I am quite happy that this movement gets more and more popular in D-A-CH. For instance, it was a peaceful and joyful event for 3,290 cyclists last November in Germany. This year in July, the number had even increased to 13,371 [source: Daniel via itstartedwithafight]. Everybody can join – even if they only want to ride a short part of the way.

© Radlhauptstadt München – cyclists’ night 2016 [picture taken by Andreas Schebesta

Roland: I rather like Critical Mass! In particular, I appreciate the movement because it seems to be truly grass-root. And I am convinced that the only way to cause change is “from the bottom”. Politics and administration are paralyzed by lobbyists and their own rules and have neither a chance nor the desire to try anything. But – without someone trying something, nothing will happen!

Franziska: And yet you can find some bicycle enthusiast among the politicians, too. For instance look at your hometown. The city of Munich aspires to being called bicycle capital. This is also due to the commitment of Wigand von Sassen, who has now been responsible for the city bicycle campaign project since March 2009. Since they started with intense bicycle promotion, there has been a considerable increase in the relative number of cyclists among the total traffic. For instance, there are regular bike checks where you can have small repairs for free. In October, you had the cyclists’ night, in September the RadCouture… This is a lot of commitment in favour of BICYCLE culture. It shows a lot of courage and stamina.

But let us think in more modest terms. What can every one of us do? You do not always need grand gestures.

Driving a car – nothing but a bad habit?

Roland: It is definitely time for something to happen. However, I do not think the higher percentage of bicycles is due to an “intense” promotion of bicycles. In fact, I think that more and more persons discover that there are better ways of being mobile than using a car and also that a car eats up a lot of money. I see all those many cars as a prosperity reserve for the future where many of us will feel more “tightness”.

Driving a car is nothing but a bad habit. Basically, it is necessary for us to be willing and able to change our habits. Smoking is a good metaphor for the process. It is not easy and for many smokers unthinkable to become a non-smoker. And then you can do it against all the odds – and you will quickly feel a lot better.

Currently, I myself am a good example for how hard it is to change patterns you were used to and actually liked. On regional trips up to thirty kilometres, I only go by bike. But unfortunately also for short distances. So my personal mobility program is now “get off your bike and back to walking”. I want to do more hiking. And it is very hard for me to give up the old habit and not automatically mount my bicycle, even if I only have to go a short distance.

Franziska: It is certainly not easy to change behavioural patterns. When I was still an employee, I found it easy to mount my bicycle every morning and ride to the firm. To this day, it is not a problem for me to take the bike when I have business meetings (except if they are too far away, then I use public transportation).

It was easy for me because I knew I had to be there no matter what. But ever since I work in my home office, I find it very hard to mount the bicycle every day – just because I want the exercise. The requirement of having to go from A to B is missing. That makes it more natural for me to do my hiking round through the vineyards in the evening. It gives me peace to ponder and structure the day’s ideas.

Now I integrate this exercise into my working day. On the one hand, I offer public network meetings. We call it Walk to Talk. We meet at a green place and see what topics everybody brought. And then we run through urban greenery for 90 to 120 minutes.

I particularly delight in the fact that the people I coach, my mentees and my supervision partners appreciate this way of talking just like I do. That means that I can enjoy this exciting discourse surrounded by greenery (“Gehsprächs” im Grünen) between four and six times each month. But I would not object to it becoming more.

Incidentally, I would recommend this format to everybody – especially as a welcome deviation from meetings that far too often happen in closed rooms and sitting down. Which brings us to the topic work world = life world.

You have been an entrepreneur for a long time. What can a boss do in order to promote a BICYCLE culture? What are the important factors?

BICYCLE culture in the mobility and health management of enterprises – not an easy task for the boss

Roland (laughs): That is not at all easy. I am sure the most important factor is that you do not offer business cars as an allegedly attractive part of the salary. Unfortunately, I did it up from 1984. The InterFace AG has far too many so-called “business cars”. And it is not at all easy to take away acquired rights.

Services such as bicycle racks with roofs and/or showers in the basement are to be recommended. And you have to be a good example yourself. You have to infect people with your own enthusiasm for bicycles and for riding bikes.

Franziska: Riding bicycles is, indeed, catching. The last time I made that experience was when, in the company I last worked for, we founded an everyday cycling group. It worked like a bus line. The experienced cyclists offered to ride alongside the beginners. In no time, we had an ad-hoc bicycle repair shop and organized (after work) bike tours. Through joining in, I learned about shortcuts and secure routes to work, as well as all kinds of bike tricks.

It filled me with pride to notice how much I already knew after some time and how I could advise others. That was a huge motivation boost towards also surviving the wet-cold rain days with temperatures around the freezing point. There are considerably more dry days than rainy days. And as soon as you are on your way and have ample rain protective gear – the rain does not matter anyway. That is also something I only found out through riding my bike on a daily basis. Mind you, this is still not considering all the many natural panoramas and the intense experience of the seasons of the year.

In your experience, what is it that makes active mobility in everyday life hard or impossible? What – perhaps small – helpful advice can you give to overcome those obstacles?

Roland: Many things come to mind. There is, for instance, the wrong belief that children and heavy objects can only be transported by car. That is not true. Children are happier on the bicycle than in a car. Shopping is a lot easier if you take a bike trailer or a cargo bike instead of a car. Even two bike panniers will go quite some way.

Regularly taking a look at your mirror and your weight, perhaps even at your blood pressure, will soon convince you that it makes sense to exercise more often.

Franziska (laughs): Correct!

Let us get back to entrepreneurial thinking. Since many employees are determined by numbers, data and facts, I am often expected to ask about it. What advantages do you see for the boss to consider “active mobility”?

Roland: Well – it has been proved that persons who exercise regularly in fresh air have considerably fewer sick days. Isn’t that something to convince you? They will also arrive at work in a better mood and more emotionally balanced. And riding a bike also gives them an enormous amount of creativity.

Strong together – AktMob promotes active mobility in everyday life.

Franziska: Early in 2016, you had the AktMobCmp in Unterhaching in order to bring active persons around “active mobility in everyday life” together. In 2017, you will organize evening events and the next AktMobCmp is also currently being organized. What are the topics you will discuss there? Who were – and who are – the participants?

Roland: The invitation addresses everyone who thinks in terms of taking responsibility for our future. The way we think about mobility directly reflects on our way of life. AktMobCmp is a BarCamp – which means we do not know the topics and sessions in advance. This openness, however, makes it possible to get many nice and tangible results on the personal level.
AktMobCmp 2016 — BarCamp for active mobility in everyday life.

Franziska: In other words, you organize and moderate the ActMobCmp as a BarCamp in order to provide space for everybody’s topics. What is special about this particular event format?
Roland: The Barcamp format is characterized by the persons who come organizing their meeting and their sessions according to their individual needs. There are no invited presentations that have been selected by a committee. Everyone is allowed and supposed to contribute. The organizing team only has the role of host who makes it possible to meet at all. The social control is with the participants. I already experienced several times how a session that was abused for marketing purposes was empty in no time.

Franziska: And then there are sessions where humans are made to work intensely and productively in order to solve a shared problem. That is what I like about BarCamps. Especially if the organizers believe in the self-organization and self-control of the participants practiced in those anti-conferences.

For you, this belief grew over the last few years because you experienced it yourself. Because this AktMobCmp is not the first BarCamp you have organized. You are one of the fathers of the PM Camp movement that brings together people all over Europe who exchange ideas on project work. What fascinates you about the BarCamp idea?

Roland: The great thing about BarCamps is that you discover many new things. After all, all the participants are willing to open up and share their knowledge. As a general rule, all participants will go home happy and richer. What you experience will continue to have an effect on you. You have made new friends with whom you remain in contact. This is how, on BarCamps, humans and movements are linked and thus gaining more and more strength.

Franziska: I know exactly what you mean! Since some of my readers are BarCamp newcomers, can you give a few examples?

Roland: Well, there are movements such as eye-level (Augenhöhe),  intrinsify.meEnjoyWork with EnjoyWorkCamp, entrepreneurial democrats (Unternehmensdemokraten), common good economists (Gemeinwohlökonomie) and many more, all of whom I met at BarCamps. Along with those who support and promote them. This is how I made new friends at BarCamps, for instance  Nadja Petranovskaja, Dr. Andreas Zeuch, Dr. Eberhard Huber, Gebhard Borck, Dr. Jens Hoffmann, Maik Pfingsten, Dr. Marcus Rainer, Dr. Niels Pflaeging, Roger Dannenhauer, Dr. Stefan Hagen and many, many more.

We, too, first met at a BarCamp (EnjoyWorkCamp?) didn’t we? You will find posts, podcasts and videos of all these persons online. Reading those will automatically make you understand why you need to connect yourself with others and do things together.

Franziska: I think the first time we met was at the Dornbirn PM Camp. But our first really intense discussion was during the “EnjoyWork” initiative. Consequently, I find it even more exciting to have gone into more detail about a few topics we share. Many thanks, Roland, for the exchange of experience.

I wish you well and for your ACtMob to be a huge success – and a good bike-chain at all times.

Roland: Many thanks – it was a true pleasure!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Some more links:

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 12th, 2015

The World’s Biggest Project?

Today (November, 12th, 2015), there was an SZ article about a mega project in the “knowledge” category. It was titled: “India links its rivers” and written by Robert Gast. Let me cite:

India links its rivers

In order to distribute the water reserves of the country more evenly, they plan to build 30 channels and 3,000 water reservoirs. It would necessitate moving half a million people.

As early as December, the Indian Government wants to promote the realization of a gigantic infra structure project. Over the next years, they plan to build 3,000 water reservoirs and 30 channels with a total length of 15,000 kilometres. For instance, they want to connect 37 rivers on the sub-continent. The project, which is assumed to cost more than 150 billion Euros, is a reaction to the fact that there is extremely much rain in some regions of India while other regions have extreme aridity. The west and north of the country regularly fight against floods, while the districts in the east and south of the sub-continent again and again suffer under the drought.

KrishnaRiverConsequently, India started as early as ten years ago making plans to connect the great rivers of the country. Also, they want to pond rivers, especially in the Himalaya region. This is how engineers want to store excess water and then transfer it to dry parts of the country. They plan to re-route 174 billion litres of water each year. Farmers could then work their fields in times of drought, as well, says the Indian Authority for Water Development – who promote the channel building project. On top of this, they also plan to install water-driven power stations with a total capacity of 34 gigawatts.

However, the project meets resistance among the citizens. According to a study done by Upali Amarasinghe of the International Water Management Institute of 2008, more than half a million persons would probably have to be relocated. Environmentalists think the project intervenes too strongly with nature. For instance in the tiger reservation of Panna. After all, they plan to pool the river Ken and re-route it to merge with the Betwa river through a 230 kilometre channel as part of the channel project. Yet this would cause the flooding of parts of the national park and 1,600 families would have to move. Additionally, the 32 tigers living in the reservation would become totally isolated from other preserved areas. Regardless, the Indian government is determined to run the project. In September, they already inaugurated a new waterway between the rivers Krishna and Godavari in the south-west of India.

For me, this article was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, this project might well be the world’s biggest project. Secondly, there are many similar projects all over the world. They all want to facilitate access to water, initiating huge geographical changes. Because water gets more and more dear. And perhaps India does not really have a choice if they want to cope with the expected climate changes like long droughts and extreme amounts of rain.

Except that, to me, this all does not really sound sustainable in terms of our planet. Perhaps India and all these many other countries planning similar projects can postpone their collapse by a few decades. But in the end, it reminds me a little of the “thinking in terms of the next three months” as practiced by the concerns. Except that, in politics, the three months are a little longer and perhaps closer to a five-year period.

Perhaps we should, along with these projects that might well be necessary, try to heal the worst destructions we subjected our planet to during the last hundred years?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
About the author:
Robert Gast, born in 1984, is editor in the science sector of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He studied physics and wrote his diploma thesis about Gamma Radiation in Space. Afterwards, he worked on a nine-months grant of the „Initiative Scientific Journalism “. This initiative gave scientists a journalistic training. Before signing up with SZ, he had worked for some time editing the “Zeit”, as well as the “Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung”, the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”, the “Deutschen Presse-Agentur dpa” and the “Spektrum der Wissenschaft”. In 2013, he was awarded the Georg von Holtzbrinck Preis für Wissenschaftsjournalismus (category: young academics).

About the photo:
Krishna River Gorge by Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India, 13 January 2008, own work of Zeman, the file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

On November, 8th, Sina Trinkwalder wrote on Facebook.

sina

You simply have to sit down and realize; what currently happens in Germany is not “like 1933”.

In those days, the people followed a rat-catcher, because there was mass unemployment. They went onto the streets hoping for a better life.

Today, the people follow a rat-catcher, regardless of the fact that, officially, with 2.6 million unemployed, we have full employment. They populate the streets because they fear they might have to share even a slight morsel of their unjustified wealth.

That is the difference. Both are comprehensible. Both are condemnable. And the social community must oppose both

I found it impossible to resist, so I commented:

I rather like the term “unjustified wealth”. And I would find it a good idea for us to, at long last, step by step reduce our “reserves in wealth”. Incidentally, I find going places by car a good metaphor for unjustified affluent behaviour.

Wouldn’t that be a good place to start renouncement? – See also #aktmobcmp.org

The reply was:

Do I understand correctly: if you work in car production, that makes you an “unjustified affluence profiteer”?

Again, I could not resist and replied somewhat polemically:



Well, naturally the conclusion “if you work in car production” is wrong in many logical/dialectical ways. For me, everyone who takes more from the world than his due is an “unjustified affluence profiteer”. And I am afraid we all who write so wisely belong in that category. As to cars: I actually do believe that it is possible today to use your competence, creativity and intelligence for more important things than for building cars. After all, cars kill more than 1.3 million persons world-wide and, for example in Bavaria, the motorised individual traffic (cars) generates more carbon dioxide per capita than would be allowed even if you even wanted to preserve the current situation.

But I truly believe that the term “unjustified wealth“ as entered into the discussion by Sina is a very central term. So far, I never used it. It gave me pause.

I believe you should extend it to read “unjustified collective wealth”. And we should never forget that, basically, whatever we do is oriented towards the goals of “protecting our acquired possession” and “preserving habits that are often nonsense (and sometimes even detrimental)”.

If, however, we continue as before, a world that was once worth living in for me will probably be lost very few generations from now. And that is not an attractive idea in my book, because in some way or other, I see myself as part of an entity – and that also includes the dimension of time. Maybe we already lost our nice world …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Invitation to a Preliminary Event for the AktMobCmp on October, 14th, 2015 at Unterhaching

actmobcmp_100-300x86I already told you about our plans on the IF Blog. On January, 4th and 5th next year (2016), just before Epiphany, we want to start a new Barcamp.

It is the AktMobCmp, the first barcamp for “Active Mobility in Everyday Life”. With this barcamp, we want to address the topic “mobility”, which will be truly important for our future.

The preparations are finished: we have a location that is well suited, a nice website, a flyer for sponsors and a general flyer – and even some first interested sponsors.

Now we wish to get people’s attention for the event. Consequently, we invite everybody to attend preliminary events. The first of these events will be on October, 14th at the  Agenda 21-Meeting-Hall (Treff) in Unterhaching (Rathausplatz Unterhaching, Hofmarkweg 12) between 18:00 and 20:00 hours. This is the first time we want to inform everybody about our “Barcamp Active Mobility”.

During the event, the following questions will be answered:

Why is “active mobility in everyday life” so important?

and
What exactly is a “Barcamp and why do we organize this as a Barcamp“?

During this evening, Jörg Schindler will tell us all why mobility is such an important topic in the future and why we all need to get more concerned with the so-called remaining traffic beyond the “individual & motorized” and “public transportation” sectors.

I know Jörg as a very competent, but also a very convincing and entertaining speaker. You will also find his very exciting and valuable presentations on YouTube. Here is an example:

Afterwards, I (Roland Dürre) will give you the definition of Barcamp and also tell you why such an “anti-conference” is so much better for sharing knowledge and developing and applying new insights than the common classic formats. And I will use PM-Camp as an example to demonstrate all the things you can achieve if you share knowledge and “communicate with each other”.

After the short presentations by Jörg and yours truly, we will discuss what has been presented. Perhaps in the form of a FishBowl.

This is how we want to advertise our January 2016 AktMobCmp. All colleagues of the “Agenda-21 organizations” in the district of Munich will receive personal invitations. But we also welcome all other persons interested in “Agile Mobility in Everyday Life” and who wish to think of and act towards a future that is worth living in. That means that you, too, are invited. And it would make us especially happy if persons from the media were to find their way to our event.

Participation at the preliminary event for AktMobCmp is free of charge. All participants are welcome and we would appreciate it if you send a short E-Mail confirming that we might expect you. Because if there are not enough seats available at the meeting hall of the “Agenda 21”, we will move to another location. One which can easily be reached on foot from the meeting hall. Naturally, we will notify you in advance if such a change of location has become necessary.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Hnilica
Wednesday July 15th, 2015

Trapped on the Balcony

Carl and Gerlinde (XLIV)

Oh God – what a heat! Absolutely beyond endurance! And today of all days, Hannelore and Kurt had planned to invite them, because, at long last, they had managed to finish the renovation work on their house. It had taken them two never-ending years during which everybody had been sure that there was never going to be a happy ending!

ZZZZGAfter all, when Carl had read about the sixty documented façade fires in the City of Frankfurt mentioned in the ’Frankfurter Allgemeine’ where the insulation had been quite an effective fire accelerator and shown this analysis with all due superiority to Kurt, the latter had lost all enthusiasm about minimizing heating costs. But then, his persistent ’climate preservation activist Hannelore’ eventually prevailed and forced him to install said insulation anyway! And since she had already gathered steam nagging him, she made him renovate the rolling shutters, too: ever since last Tuesday, all the fifteen rolling shutters on the windows and doors of their one-storey semi-detached house now moved up and down without the slightest sound, sun-sensor controlled and fully automated.…

And this is what he and Hannelore wanted to toast with their friends today, Kurt had stammered. Mind you, the families Renner and Gutmann had to send in a last-minute cancellation, because Kerstin had suffered from a heatstroke, Anne had been stung by a bee yesterday and reacted allergic and her husband was still busy dancing around his office without being able to say when he would be back.

But then, sitting on the north-facing balcony of the first floor, Kurt continued after having yet once again related the entire renovation adventure and while still gripping his Aperol Spritz – now minus the ice cubes – one could just about tolerate even temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius! This wonderfully refreshing breeze coming from all sides was also what had eventually made Hannelore agree to serve her delicious buffet on the balcony, after all. …

”Kurt, if you continue your monologue holding this full glass in your hand”, Hannelore suddenly aggressively interrupted him, “the only guests remaining with us will have died from thirst and turned skeletons before having so much as smelled all those delicacies we prepared for them. Please let us, at long last, push the now tepid Aperol Spritz through our throats and then turn to the cold beer sitting in the ice buckets! And my appetizers would also definitely appreciate being devoured and pushed into our empty stomachs as fast as possible, before the basil is totally dry and the wasps have eaten your savoury sardine bread spread…“!

“God be praised”, Carl moaned with relief, touching Hannelore’s naked arm while Gerlinde tried to console the so harshly interrupted Kurt with a few whispered niceties.

Carl was also the first to, after the short and embarrassing pause, grab his small bottle of beer from the ice-bucket and, without a single break, use it for removing the lukewarm Aperol Spritz taste from his throat!

All the others followed suit, and since they actually did enjoy the nice breeze on the balcony, their chewing mouths soon started resuming their lively gossip.

It took this bone-shattering “NO! Damned!” for another interruption of their chattering to happen: all three of them gazed at Kurt who, highly excited, stood in front of the closed balcony door with an ice-bucket full of empty beer bottles: nobody had noticed anything, because it had all happened so noiselessly.

And now they were closed! The balcony door shutters!

And, of course, the control device was inside and nobody had their cell-phone with them. Well, where should anybody have kept it, wearing their light summer outfits; even Carl had no suitable pocket in his Pumpkin Shorts!

“So what now, my golden programming genius?”, Hannelore attacked her totally flabbergasted Kurt. “If I remember correctly, you told me more than twenty times last week that this is something that absolutely can never happen, because you programmed the shutters for all the balcony doors to always remain half open. Or am I mistaken, my super-wise Kurti?”. 
“Dear Hannelore, you are not mistaken. You see me facing a mystery …“
”My dear Kurt, this is not just a mystery, but a totally closed balcony door”, Carl added with a grin.

“So – and what now, my dear folks?”, Gerlinde had turned a little acidic.

“I do not know – I truly and really do not know …!” Kurt stammered.

“Maybe we should yell!”, Hannelore suddenly shouted, “yes, let us all together give such a loud yell that is sounds like cowbells ringing; somebody is bound to hear us …“

“Ha, ha – who would hear us?”, Kurt moaned. “The neighbour on the right is hard of hearing and sitting in front of the TV set and the neighbours on the left are on vacation…“

“And the ones back there are having a garden party, so they will not hear anything because of all the noise they make themselves”, Gerlinde added with frustration.

“But Hilde, on the opposite side, still has her lights on! Look at the upper storey!”

“And all the windows are also open”, Kurt suddenly sounded quite triumphant…

And he immediately started yelling loudly for his beloved – who, incidentally, at the age of 82, also was only of limited hearing. This was not something Kurt let himself be deterred by: he yelled “Hilde” until – well, until he no longer had any breath left!

Of course, the occasional car also drove by! But they took no notice at all of the ’incarcerated four on the balcony’. And even if they had noticed, they would surely have thought those guys up there well equipped, since they were so strangely yelling and full of joy, also waving all the time…
And, of course, Blanka, Hilde’s Polish nurse, was also not available – but then, she would not have understood anything, anyway, because the ’Deitsche Language’ was not precisely her strong suit!

When finally Carl had managed to tune his powerful organ in harmony with the ’help ’- cries by Kurt, the one who had been so much wanted actually appeared in one of the illuminated windows, enthusiastically waving towards the merry balcony round. …

She also noticed how hot it was and how she was totally in the nude underneath her light shirt!

Kurt’s desperate yell, however, that he absolutely needed the house keys deposited with her again only brought the reply:

“I am in the nude …“!

And when asked where Blanka could be found, the answer, of course, was again “I am in the nude… “!

But since, regardless of Hilde’s fortuitous nudity, the time approached midnight and not only the Aperol bottle, but also the three bottles of champagne were empty, Carl manfully took the initiative: powered by quite a bit of alcohol, he suddenly – without any advance warning – catapulted himself over the balcony railing like Tarzan for all to see, awkwardly gripped the downward leading rain pipe and – even before Gerlinde could give an anxious outcry – landed on the ground with some kind of primal yell!

At least that was what it seemed to be, considering the muffled sound of his impact and this animal-like “Ouch – Shit!“.

And after fearful questions from above and tension-laden silence from below, finally came an all-salving moan and the spooky comment:
“Now, I, too, am in the nude …!“

Which was when everybody gave a yell of liberation, noticing that Carl’s beautiful new summer outfit hung from the rain pipe in tatters and he, Tarzan himself, apparently had survived the entire episode without breaking any bones; he was still wearing his undamaged TRIGA boxer shorts…

Since the automatic movement lights on the patio had turned themselves on, he even stood in the limelight, looking very spectacular with blood smeared all over him! So it was hardly a surprise that Hilde enthusiastically joined in with the applauding audience, constantly saying that Kurt was not in the nude, after all…

However, since it was not Kurt but Carl – whom she took for Kurt – who knocked at her door, it only took a few minutes before the sought-after spare keys were in his hands. …

What a triumph for the ever so robust TRIGA boxer shorts! Because without them, Carl could never have run to Hilde’s so quickly …

KH
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday August 21st, 2012

Biomass Fuel

IF blog is now in the middle of its Summer Slump . I am staying near the beach for two weeks, seeing to duerre.de. And I add a few “catch phrase articles” to the “keywords”. Here is one of yesterday on “Biomass Fuel”:

As I see it, biomass fuel is the worst solution if we want to continue indulging in our current individual and otherwise mobile habits in the future. I fail to understand how anybody could introduce a law forcing everybody to add some biomass fuel to the normal fuel.

In 2009, Stefan Lauer, one of the Lufthansa managing directors, gave a presentation at TUM. From him, I heard that, just in order to produce enough biomass fuel for running all his airplanes, you would need an area as big as Europe.  At the time, he talked rapeseed. Consequently, the vision was a completely yellow Europe.

Decades ago, we started talking about renewable raw materials and environment-friendly behaviour in connection with biomass fuel. And I got quite dizzy when I first heard about it.

A few years later, when the subsidies and regulations started coming in FRG, the EU and both Americas, promoting biomass fuel and demanding 5 to 10 %, my dizziness got worse.

And now we in Germany grow more corn than anything else. In former times, corn – because of its detrimental effect on the soil – had no chance against reasonable crop rotation. And we imported palm oil from countries where people went hungry. Mind you, all this happened in order to fulfill the bio-quota for fuel!?

Can this actually be true? Here is what happens: we are sealing soil at a terrific speed. And on the remaining meadows, we grow energy plants such as corn. These plants can produce extremely much biological mass in the shortest possible time. Or else, we cut down the rain forest and grow “energy plants” on soil that is not suitable for it. This is depletion, instead of nurturing our soil.

Mind you, it all happens just so we can satisfy our thirst for fuel. We even ignore the fact that the energy used up for producing biomass fuel is quite a significant part of what we “produce” in energy.

And simultaneously, the general world-wide food situation gets more and more critical due to climate change and other developments caused by us humans? Can this really be true?

Mind you, individual traffic is one of the sectors where you could economize considerably. Instead of adding 10 % biomass fuel, you could save huge quantities by simple means. A drastic speed limit would already give us some per cents. Incidentally, it would also save quite a few lives and protect human bodies from physical damage. Our general driving habits, too, would become a little more rational.

In addition, you could save a lot if you de-emotionalized cars, building reasonable models that need less fuel.

The waste of fuel in individualized traffic might also be reduced by intelligent systems for driving and transportation alliances. You could make car drivers use public transportation, bikes or energy-saving e-scooters.

But this is all too difficult for politicians. Which is why they bend their knees to the lobbyists and demand the irrational biomass fuel system.

Currently, an about face seems to be under way. During the last few weeks, I heard and read more and more and quite reasonably worded criticism against biomass fuel. It might easily happen that this lunacy is soon a thing of the past.

I wrote this article in 2012. In my opinion, the topic biomass fuel might well be obsolete in a few years.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday May 9th, 2012

New Growth Formula!?

The climate development will be even more detrimental than we had expected. It also said so in yesterday’s Zeit (online) and Süddeutsche. That seems plausible to me, because it is exactly what I and many people around me notice.

Here is a citation:

This is the first time in human history that we approach a state of affairs where our own striving after growth and prosperity will collide with our planet’s capacity.

Regardless, what I hear both from the powerful and those who criticize them (!) is that the call for growth gets louder and louder. They even revert to calling for growth with borrowed money. For me, growth means more noise, more consumption, more waste, more air pollution, more mania …

Mind you, asking for more growth is perfectly in order – if we were to agree on a new “growth formula”:

Growth is if the emission of carbon dioxide and the use of raw materials decline!

From my – now already quite long – life, I remember various criteria for economic development:

When I was young, it was the number of register tons transported by rail. In the simplified version, this read: the more coal we transported (and used up), the better the economy was doing. Of course, seen from today’s perspective, this seems nonsense.

Later, the number of houses and flats built became the indicator. Well, it made sense, didn’t it? Building houses is not just economically relevant, there are also the subsequent investments, such as for furniture and much more. But that, too, no longer works.

Around the turn of the millennium, the media was what the evaluation of the economy was based on. The more money the editors and TV stations received, the better their predictions about the economic growth. But woe if the stream of money spent on adverts dwindled. It was seen as an unquestioned sign for the economic situation going down the drains.

Mind you, I never quite understood it. On the contrary. To me, this concept sounded stupid. Because if the demand is truly booming, then I can easily economize on the advertising, can’t I? Only if the market is truly saturated (like mostly in Middle Europe), I have to invest a lot in advertising. And then you will have a hard time with growth. At least that is what you would think.

In the future, you will have to measure the economic development of an economy by how well it does when it comes to minimize its need for fossil energies and other raw materials. The result, however, will have to be modified according to what you save by exporting dirty industries to third countries. Of course, the motto “we emit less carbon dioxide because the industrial work that causes pollution is transferred to other countries” is not globally goal-oriented.

Sustainable energy and a closed circle for re-cycling raw materials will also stimulate a truly high-quality, but different growth.
Because in many areas, doing without the seemingly “cheap fossil energy” and the excessive use of raw material will have to be replaced by human intelligence and labour. And, as we all know, both is rather expensive with a tendency towards being over-priced where we live.

Mind you, this is not because people earn too much, but because the much-praised right to property is a little neglected when it comes to your income from labour. Where income gained through non-self-employed labour (that, too, is property!) is concerned, the fiscal authorities are more than a little liberal, taking away rather a handful. This happens regardless of the right to material and intellectual property today being rooted in our society as never before. In fact, more often than not it seems to have mutated to become a “human right to protection of acquired possession”.

Well, the unlimited right to intellectual and ”real“ property is also one of those paradigms that might be worth thinking about, just like the “growth” dogma. Otherwise it might easily happen that the social evolution breaks out with full power.

And when all is over, all that is left for the next and following generations is to lament about a merciless ecological (world-wide) dictatorship in a completely destroyed environment.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
In my book the most important things I have are myBREATHING, myWATER, myFOOD, mySILENCE and, last not least, myLIFE, which, ideally should not be threatened by environmental catastrophes. Besides, what is also important in my life are myFAMILY and myCHILDREN. Meaning that my children and grandchildren should not find themselves in the middle of unnecessary climate catastrophes.

Roland Dürre
Friday April 13th, 2012

IF Forum Live On The Internet

First 2012 IF Forum – Living (and Surviving) Sustainably – April, 17

Heidi Schiller – energy entrepreneur in Africa will present.
Black – White – Multi-Coloured (Schwarz – weiß – bunt.)
Some impulses for looking upon this one world of ours a  little differently.

Or course, we will, again, broadcast live into the internet!

The broadcast will start shortly after 6 p.m.

You can see the video stream of the presentation at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/IF-Forum (link). If you want to test if the video stream can be loaded with your browser, call the aforementioned Websitee.

In addition to the broadcast, we will make a video recording and publish it at youtube (channel: rolandduerre).
I already look forward to a huge internet audience!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
And there are always a few vacancies for cherished friends