Germany is in a challenging situation. The energy crisis is worrying many citizens, after all gas prices have been rising for months. Nevertheless, the current situation is no surprise. On the contrary: He came with an announcement.
The older generation might feel like Back to the Future these days. However, a few days ago a man told me that it was about 80 years ago that it was 1947 when he received a warning in the mail with the subject: “Violation of the order to limit electricity consumption”.
That was drastic. It was known that there would be fines per KwH if the incident was repeated and that there would also be a power cut for a month. A few years ago this story would probably have been given little attention: “Yes, you, back then!” one would have said with a mild smile.
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But it can go so fast – and here we are again. Germany is currently in a definitely challenging situation. One fact doesn’t interest most: But the current situation came with an announcement.
For years it had to be clear to everyone who dealt with energy policy that the dependencies into which Germany had moved were not good starting conditions – for many scenarios.
1. The gas dependency on Russia as a country that already showed in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea that the current geographical sphere of influence is not enough for it. Attempts to appear militarily in foreign airspace were answered by other countries with appropriate actions and precautions. Germany was relatively unimpressed by this and continued to cling to its alliance with no alternative and with one-sided dependencies.
2. People do not like to talk about purchasing nuclear power from European neighbors. A few years have passed since I distributed “nuclear power – no, thank you” stickers at family celebrations as a child, accompanied by frowns and wry smiles (“Your little one is cute”). In order to achieve the goal of the phase-out, it would have been good to promote research on how to deal with nuclear waste, on its reduction and avoidance, at the latest since then.
The problem is not solved by shutting down the reactors. Ever since we got older, we’ve known that things don’t automatically go away because we don’t see them anymore when we put our hands in front of our eyes. Even if we don’t like it.
A news magazine quotes the environmental activist Ralf Fücks under the headline “Why Germany has forgotten how to progress” – because progress does not mean building dead ends. Progress means finding new ways. Sometimes these will be shortcuts, sometimes diversions.
While fundamentally critical Germans are considering what can go wrong, why you shouldn’t try something, and if so, then only with considerable bureaucracy, while other countries have long been trying out, developing, expanding, researching.
3. Our solar development and production is practically non-existent after the end of the subsidies in our own country. The counterpart is now flourishing in China – there are products that we can obtain there at attractive prices based on the old model of relocating our own production abroad to save costs. This lengthens supply chains, strengthens dependencies and is not very sustainable. But good for the balance sheet.
4. We have high hopes for wind energy and other alternative forms of energy. Taking a closer look is not always pleasant. Because the energy balance of certain wind turbines is sobering – not to mention Cradle to Cradle, i.e. circular economy, when you think of the hazardous waste that some brands produce.
The NDR even speaks of 20,000 tons of hazardous waste that, according to experts, are produced nationwide every year when the rotor blades of old wind turbines are disposed of.
Back to the current situation: Politics has miscalculated – but that’s not a development of the last few months, but of the last few years. What needs to be done now is a change of direction with a clear, strategically underpinned concept that involves all the important parties involved and shows sustainable, long-term paths and solutions.
When politicians then advise citizens to shift their cleaning rituals from bathtubs and showers to washcloths and to know the contents of the fridge by heart in order to be able to do without the light in it, it sounds like advice from the order catalog “The Clever Housewife”.
And while I’ve been a childhood advocate of cold showers and the thick sweater with tea to warm my hands in winter, I sense a faint concern at the tips. Not that I’m afraid the politicians wouldn’t have any more than the two.
I fear getting stuck in the microcosm. And don’t get me wrong: Sustainability starts small – every baby step is a step in the right direction.
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However, I expect politicians to give me an overview of the big picture, that I get the feeling that politicians are not the cumulative question mark of all citizens, but think ahead.
A loud yes to the washcloth, to the dark refrigerator, to the end of all standbys, to the maximum room temperature, to comprehensive photovoltaic systems and solar panels. But it takes more. The citizens of this country deserve perspective, they want to see a clear concept that is fit for the future.