Roland Dürre
Friday December 11th, 2009

“Copenhagen and the Climate?” or “What Should Be Done!”

As the weekend approaches, here are some thought-provoking and radical and ideas!

In Copenhagen, they try to solve an unsolvable problem without hurting anybody. Of course, that is not possible. Mathematically spoken, it is probably not possible to save the day with methods that work step by step and sound reasonable.

If you really want to reverse the weird change currently threatening our planet with gruesome sobriety, you will have to use totally different methods. Collectively and individually! That means that every one of us will have to get active in their private lives, too!

So what needs to be done? Here is what I propose:

  • End all military aggressions.
  • Stop all investment in individualized traffic (no more streets or cars).
  • Limit air traffic considerably (to less than 10 per cent of the current amount).
  • Re-evaluate shipping traffic and invent new ships (sailing boats? New technologies?).
  • Globalize division of work and reduce production.
  • Reduce heating, abolish air-conditioning, and improve buildings with regard to energy.
  • Replace centralized technologies with decentralized technologies.
  • Abolish absurd and beaurocratic overhead structures and financing models.
  • Apply and adhere to rules like “lean design”, “cheap design”, “keep the things simple and stupid (KISS)”.
  • Invest in education!!!
  • Take measures to make life less complex.
  • Put special emphasis on the development of recycling technologies.
  • Promote reasonable modern and ecological energy production at extra speed and with extra high priority.
  • Build more public, reasonable, slow (!) traffic systems.
  • Focus on mobility as a result of physical activity (bicycle).
  • (Re-)regionalize the creation of  value – (re-)build regional supply structures.
  • Abolish non-ecological production of food and consumer goods.
  • Stop the great carbon dioxide sins world-wide (rain forests, moor territories and such must be conserved and renaturalised).
  • Declare the end of the packaging overkill.
  • Reduce consumption, only buy what is necessary (motto: one pair of jeans will suffice).
  • Limit yourself to what junk is absolutely necessary.
  • Change your eating habits – less meat and fish – eat according to the time of the year – distance yourself from “convenient food” and big standard portions.
  • Abolish hunger (1 billion people are starving) and end the destruction of victuals both on a huge and small scale.
  • Put generating public welfare before gaining maximum profit in business life (as set down in the Bavarian Constitution).

That is how a manifesto for saving the climate could look like.

Now you are going to say:

If we did that, our economy would collapse!

To be sure, our economy would collapse. And the process would also mean enormous dislocations. But they cannot be avoided, anyway. That is why it is better to accept the change offensively and control it pro-actively than to be overrun by it later on. Acting and thinking in advance is the only way to, maybe, alleviate the collective damage, because:

Innovation is, after all, creative destruction!

And we need a gigantic innovative achievement in order to counterbalance the development that has been massively promoted and had a momentous effect for more than 200 years.

I can also imagine another argument against my manifesto:

This is all just an unrealistic utopian phantasy.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that is exactly what it is. And probably the time has not yet come for it. But I think we should at least start thinking about it.

Others will say:

This concept would catapult us back into the middle ages.

And it will take away our bliss. Rubbish! I think that we, today, invest far too much work and energy for totally unimportant things. By changes through renouncement, as proposed, we would give ourselves a great new liberty and much time. Liberty is a central value, time our most precious resource.

We would keep much and acquire quite a bit extra:

  • We could continue to set the high modern hygienic standards (they are the main reason why we, today, are so much healthier than people were in the Middle Ages).
  • Our health would improve, we would spend more active time in fresh air (many of us are less healthy than people were in the Middle Ages because physical activity is sadly missing).
  • We would have more time for our families and friends and could improve our social contacts (wouldn’t it be really nice if we had more time for our beloved ones, children, or friends in the club?).
  • Social isolation and loneliness would decrease (this might even result in less than 50% single households in Munich and less depressions in the world).
  • We could return to our hobbies and sports and enjoy companionable comfort outside the work situation, as well (go golfing or play tennis, go fishing or hunting, jogging or mountaineering, go bowling or play cards, …).
  • We could return to the fine arts and enjoy culture, music and the theatre (when was the last time you went to a concert or the theatre?).
  • We could enjoy slow voyages and leisurely adventures (a short time ago, I went from Budapest to Constantis by bike, a young couple I know went from Munich to Peking).
  • We would have time for our souls (enlightenment, religion, philosophy, learning),
  • I-mobility and cyberspace offer a totally new quality for connecting with people and knowledge which we never had in the past. We will probably “view” each other more, instead of meeting. You can take it as a given that we will see to it that IT gets “green”.

The transition from our “old” world to the “new” world described above is really rewarding. I tried it and I am fascinated. For example, I no longer go places by car and only take the plane when the “ultima ratio” absolutely dictates it. My means of transport are the bicycle and the railway. Yet I travel quite a bit each year. Going by bike keeps me in shape, and on the train I use most of the time for work.

In this manner, I gain a lot of time, which I try to use prudently. I feel happier and more content in my new life than I ever did before.

🙂 Even if it means no more yoghurt out of plastic containers and only a new suit if two old ones are worn out.

But do not forget: we are running out of time…

(Translated by EG)

2 Kommentare zu ““Copenhagen and the Climate?” or “What Should Be Done!””

  1. hans-peter kühn (Monday December 14th, 2009)

    Finde es Klasse, dass Du dem jugendlichen Idealisten, der wohl in Deiner erwachsenen Unternehmerschale wohnt mal erlaubt hast so richtig “die Sau rauszulassen.”

    Also meinen Beifall hast Du!!!

  2. Chris Wood (Wednesday December 16th, 2009)

    I was supposed to translate into English for this blog. Being a perfectionist, I found this hard work, and soon gave up. Luckily, Roland found Evelyn, who does the job much faster. Recently I became “Chief Commentator”. To celebrate this honour, I wanted to comment on an important posting. Here is one, but unfortunately my only serious comment is that I agree. As that is too boring, here are some unserious comments.
    Roland: “KISS” still stands for “Keep it simple, stupid”.
    Fast foods are still “convenience foods”.
    I recently read the New York Times pages that come with the SZ on Mondays. It is interesting to see the different tilt. For instance that a piece about the suicide rate among soldiers in Afghanistan clearly only considers US soldiers. What about all the Afghan soldiers? (In a German newspaper only the problems of German soldiers would be mentioned).
    More relevant to this posting is that the crazy guys who want to continue ruining the environment are called “conservatives”. There is no mention of the fact that the word really means the opposite!
    (I am writing the following from memory; please excuse any wrong details).
    Even more relevant was a piece about the predicted 1% “damage” to the world economy of reducing CO2 output by 20% over 20 years, (i.e. less than 0.05% per year). This was regarded as acceptable even for “conservatives”. This is crazy. It is not the rate of CO2 output that is the problem; it is the total that will be in the atmosphere. A 20% reduction in output is nowhere near enough. There may easily be positive feedback effects that make the situation much worse; for instance methane release from the tundra, or reduced albedo near the poles. Anyway, of course one cannot calculate the “damage” accurately. The way the world economy goes is rather unpredictable. I heard that this 1%, (for insufficient CO2 output reduction), has now been revised up to 2%.
    As Roland writes, we shall need real changes in life-style. My household (3 people) spends more than €4000 per year on heating and car fuel together. The costs of these things must at least double. Savings are difficult. The cars are used mainly in connection with work. Public transport is hardly an alternative. Yes, I could wear thicker clothes, and take fewer showers. I could change to a nearer squash club, and see my old friends much less often. I already see too little of my extended family (in England and Prague). I could play chess just in my club, instead of travelling to Passau or Ingolstadt with my team. Holidaying will also cost a lot more. USA will be more affected than European countries. Obama has an (almost?) impossible task to do what is needed. I can understand if he does not want to fight the conservatives on too many fronts at once. And China plans to increase CO2 output.
    The same piece praised the system of carbon-credits, as the right way to save the environment at minimum cost. The Americans may well be right to use capitalism to attack the problem. Why do we hear so little about this in Germany? The paper mentioned a serious problem here with Russia. As with DDR, their heavy industry has seriously declined. So they already have plenty of carbon-credits. If they sell these off quickly, they will drive down the price of them, so that countries will have little incentive to reduce CO2 output. Carbon-credits may be a good idea, but the initial allocations were dubious. The earlier polluters profit (even more) from what they did. No wonder the developing countries object.

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