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Green

Germany

Maxing Out Energy Self-Sufficiency: Houses That Fuel Themselves

Against the backdrop of skyrocketing electricity and gas prices, the idea of houses that produce their own energy is more attractive than ever.

WEIKERSHEIM — This corner of the state of Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany, is a popular tourist destination, boasting a Renaissance-era castle and the pretty old town center. But recently, Weikersheim has gained a new attraction for visitors interested in modern architecture and energy efficiency.

Walk down Bachgasse in the Schäftersheim quarter and you’ll find Hof 8, an award-winning development that has been praised not only for its modern conversion of the old farm buildings but also because the houses produce more energy than they use.

The renovated 19th-century farm has solar panels on every roof, innovative wind-energy installations, a groundwater pump and, of course, heavily insulated walls. An ingenious heating and energy storage system ensures the buildings are completely self-sufficient.

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Biophilia Or Bust? Ecology Is Not About Empathy For Other Living Creatures

When humans care about the natural world, it means revising our place in it and acting accordingly, not giving nature "rights and concessions" that are figments of our self-serving imagination.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — One of the most contradictory elements in the human condition is the dual ability to be moved by or remain indifferent to the suffering of creatures. The poverty starkly evident on city streets for as long as there have been cities prompted the creation of welfare systems just as soon as institutions emerged. Today, those systems fall short of the needs of our collective welfare, which we now recognize as vulnerable for depending on the state of natural ecosystems.

The structural inequities and injustice we see require political decisions, but also pose challenges of coexistence in our day-to-day lives. We must thus act on the basis of compassion and empathy, even if such concepts may be understood differently, as the histories of the great religions and their critics illustrate.

Talking of compassion from the scientific perspective (always said to be heartless) or from the perspective of social ideologies are not the same.

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The Power Of A Child's Imagination To Bring The Amazon Back To Life

Illegal mining and deforestation are destroying parts of the Amazon and devastating indigenous people's lives. As laws and governments fail to protect the environment and vulnerable communities, locals have turned to the imagination of the future generation.

What do the children of the Amazon dream of? How do they observe the destruction of the forests around them? How do they imagine those areas if the situation were different? Ojo Público supported a local effort that brought together a group of children from the Awajún indigenous community in northern Peru to draw on photographs of devastated forests the elements that they imagined should be there.

Illegal activities are destroying the forests of the Amazon and polluting its rivers. On the landscapes destroyed by illegal mining and deforestation, they painted huge trees, plants, animals in the forest and fish in pristine rivers.

"The trees suffer," says Suely Apika, a 12-year-old Awajún girl, while she draws a hunting scene in the forest on top of a photograph of an empty terrain. Where there were once trees, now only a yellowish mud remains.

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Fighting For Puerto Rico's Solar Revolution — And Against Sexism

Can Puerto Rico’s abundant sunshine and ambitious women unlock its renewable energy potential?

OROCOVIS, PUERTO RICO — Every few weeks, Yadira Sánchez Fuentes fearlessly descends waterfalls and slippery caverns, often the only woman among a group of caving enthusiasts. The rest of the month, with that same strength, smile and sense of satisfaction, the petite brunette confidently scales rooftops to help install solar panels, simultaneously tackling two outdated problems: Puerto Rico’s energy grid and gender stereotypes.

“We have to create leaders, not followers,” the 44-year-old says.

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Green
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Inside Sweden's "100,000-Year" Solution To Bury Nuclear Waste

As experts debate whether nuclear power can become another leading renewable energy source, Sweden has adopted a first-of-its-kind underground depository for nuclear waste — and many countries are following their lead.

As last fall’s climate summit in Glasgow made it clear that the world is still on route for major planetary disaster, it also brought the question of nuclear power squarely back on the agenda. A growing number of experts and policymakers now argue that nuclear energy deserves many of the same considerations as wind, solar and other leading renewables.

But while staunch opponents to nuclear may be slowly shifting their opinion, and countries like France, the UK and especially China plan to expand their nuclear portfolios, one main question keeps haunting policymakers: how do we store the radioactive waste?

In Sweden, the government claims to have found a solution.

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Green
Carl-Johan Karlsson

How The Mafia Is Moving Into Renewables And Other "Clean" Sectors

Mobster shootouts may be a thing of the past, but organized crime is still Italy’s biggest business. And the Mafia has changed its business model, expanding into cybercrime, cryptocurrency and even renewable energy.

As mobster shootouts and drug cartels have gravitated from the top of the evening news to bingeable series on streaming services, it could seem that traditional organized crime networks are in terminal decline. Even on the Italian island of Sicily, where Cosa Nostra essentially invented the modern mob, the attention garnered by high-profile murders in the early 1990s, and the subsequent arrest of some 4,000 mafiosi since, have given way to a lower-profile, less violent Mafia era.

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Ideas
Julien Reitzenstein

School Uniforms, The Plainest Solution To The World's Biggest Problems

For decades, countries like Germany have resisted implementing school uniforms. But dress codes in schools are not just for the elite. They can help reduce social stigma for students living in poverty, as well as helping fight the climate crisis.

BERLIN — Few consumer goods contribute as much to climate change as clothing does. And fewer groups are more vocal about protecting the climate as school children. Yet they could make a major contribution to climate protection in a very simple way.

German politics values consensus, so it is hard to imagine a political debate that doesn't mention equality in some way. Parties and governments want to make social differences in everyday life as invisible as possible – and to encourage citizens to be sensitive. Perhaps this is why the desire to avoid any form of discrimination is now considered good manners by more and more adults.

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Geopolitics

Norwegian Salmon v. Danish Trout: Lessons On Ecology And Economics

The Danish government has banned further growth in sea-based fish farming, claiming the country had reached the limit without endangering the environment. A marine biologist says it is a misguided policy for both economic and ecological reasons.

-Analysis-

“They’ve got the oil in the North Sea, but don’t let Norway get all the pink gold too…”

That was a headline of a recent OpEd in Danish daily Politiken, arguing that misguided environmental concerns are giving neighboring Norway a monopoly on the lucrative salmon industry.

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Green
Carl Karlsson

Six Massive Clean Energy Projects That Offer A Shot Of Climate Hope

Last fall's COP26 climate summit showed the way to, not, move forward on tackling the climate crisis. But all's not lost. From the biggest solar farm in the world to a huge storage plant for C02, here are some of the largest renewable energy projects in the pipeline around the globe.

Following a decade-long fanfare of private and government pledges to combat the warming of the planet, last month’s United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow painted a grim picture of the world’s climate progress. The takeaway: the world is on course to overshoot the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords in all but the most optimistic scenario, which would require all announced targets to be fully implemented.

That scenario, however, seems distant today as the pivot to a sustainable energy market is unevenly distributed across the globe, with many fossil-fuel-dependent countries still struggling to close the energy gap as demand for power increases. What is worse, while some countries have improved their ambitions, others slipped backward at COP26 by retracting set climate targets.

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Green
Dani Dominguez

Academic Washing? How Spain's Energy Sector Cleans Its Image At Universities

The big Spanish electricity and oil companies sponsor numerous research chairs at top universities: Is this cynical 'greenwashing' or innovative collaboration for the energy transition?

MADRID — Spain's major energy companies have found a first-rate partner in universities.

At Comillas University, for example, the companies sponsor the Module of Energy and Innovation, financed by Iberdrola; the Module of Family and Disability and the Module of Social Impact, in which the Repsol Foundation participates, as well as the Module of Energy and Poverty, run by Naturgy and Endesa.

In other words, the four big electricity companies on Spain's IBEX 35 leading stock index pay for some type of studies at this private university, which also hosts the Chair of Connected Industry; whose board of trustees includes Repsol, Endesa and Enagás, among others; and the Chair of Energy and Sustainability, which is paid for by British Petroleum (BP).

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Green
Gaspard Koenig

Grinch Or Green? It’s Time To Stop Buying Christmas Trees!

Each year, millions of trees are sacrificed for the sake of Christmas — an ecological disaster and a denial of what trees represent for humanity. There are, however, some green alternatives to buying (and killing) your own private tree each year.

-OpEd-

PARIS — In the street, on the sidewalks, the corpses pile up in the cold, stacked one above the other — victims of mutilation. Passers-by glance at them carelessly, sometimes fiddling with their broken limbs. The executioners stand guard around their victims, kicking them back into a pile.

The execution is recent: the bodies still wear their natural colors. But soon the last drops of life will recede. They will start to turn pale and decompose, leaving scorched flakes around them. A foul odor will take hold of the city.

This vision of horror is the Christmas spectacle, with its six million trees in France alone that are cut, sold, decorated for a few days and then discarded. In order to grasp the full extent of this massacre, we must first admit that trees are not simple pieces of wood, but individuals in their own right, who are leading unique lives.

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