Coronavirus and the environment

CORONAVIRUS is having a huge impact on human society. Social distancing is occupying people’s thoughts, with all the ramifications it brings. How safe are our older relatives? What is happening with the exams? How will the economy cope? So, is our increasing population making it more likely to get pandemics in the future?

Halt destruction of nature or suffer even worse pandemics, say world’s top scientists

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/27/halt-destruction-nature-worse-pandemics-top-scientists?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_In_die_Zwischenablage_kopieren

But there is a silver lining. Governments are taking different precautionary measures. Maybe we will learn from this crisis, some ways of dealing with Global Heating. Here are some articles where one can read further.

https://e360.yale.edu/features/coronavirus-holds-key-lessons-on-how-to-fight-climate-change

http://Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to complacent civilisation https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/25/covid-19-is-natures-wake-up-call-to-complacent-civilisation?

http://’Tip of the iceberg’: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/18/tip-of-the-iceberg-is-our-destruction-of-nature-responsible-for-covid-19-aoe?

Sunflowers – more than a pretty face

Sunflowers have much more potential for humanity than just delivering pretty flowers and sunflower oil as Dr. Erika Nehnevajova explained to the Planet strikes back AG of Schiller Gymnasium in October. Based on her research in the university of Bern, sunflowers are capable of removing heavy metal contamination from soil more efficiently than the invasive soil washing procedure. As an added bonus the sunflowers concentrate the heavy metals in small amounts in their leaves and s terms. The sunflowers can then be harvested and mixed with other organic material to be used as bio fuel.

This procedure has not yet been carried out on an industrial scale yet but as agricultural land becomes scarcer and the demand for renewable energy rises, maybe more interest in this concept will rise.

Create your Future Workshops for pupils at the Technical University in Berlin

23rd -25th September 2019

The concrete expanse in front of the main building of the Technical University (TU) seemed to stretch into infinity. Not a pupil in sight. Good. Time for a quick coffee. Refreshed I returned to see my colleagues waiting patiently, lists in their hand. I was very pleased to see that all the 148 pupils of the 10th grade at Schiller Gymnasium as well as a class from the Sophie-Charlotte-Gymnasium turned up almost punctually (or were excused) and were assigned to their different workshops.  This was a first time event. After a meeting with Scientists For Future in spring, Nicole Langreder – a student in her final year at the TU, had decided to set up an ambitious project offering school pupils the opportunity to have hands-on experience with developing solutions to the impending climate catastrophe.

Workshops for Berliner school pupils

Nicole Langreder galvanised her fellow students, companies and teaching programs to come up with twelve different multidisciplinary workshops for the Berlin pupils  – ranging from building earthships to designing comics for future.  Some pupils calculated costs of solar powered water supply in developing countries, whereas others looked at the issues of reforesting. Some pupils were involved in developing a traffic concept for the Ernst-Reuter-Platz and learn ways of communicating their demands.  Yet other pupils participated in upcycling food with the help of SirPlus.

The pupils were scattered around different rooms of the Technical University and worked hard on their projects for two days to develop tangible ideas which could be presented at the Klima Kongress Create Your Future which took place on the evening of Wednesday 25th of September.

Presentations of the Klima Kongress Create Your Future

Nicole Langreder from Students for Future at the TU introducing the Klima Kongreß

The pupils were able to choose their workshop which they then worked at from 8 a.m. to 12.15 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday 23. and 24. of September.  After creating tangible products, the pupils then reconvened in the “Lichthof” of the TU – an impressive forum to present their results in the form of a poster session, interspersed with talks.

The keynote speaker Dr. Carl Friedrich Schleussner from the “Integrativen Forschungsinstitut zu Transformationen von Mensch-Umwelt-Systemen (IRI THESys)” at der Humboldt University and representative of the research institute Climate Analytics arrived straight at the Klima Kongress from the IPCC meeting in Monaco.  He gave a concerning speech, where he made it very clear that the summers of the century that we have enjoyed in 2018 and 2019 with their concomitant droughts, floods and fires are starting to manifest some of the impacts of a rise of 0.5 degrees Celsius. Dr. Schleussner made it clear that a 1.5 degree increase in global temperature will have drastic consequences, which will be unequally distributed, underlining the necessity that politicians must come to grips of reducing carbon dioxide emissions dramatically within the next twenty years in order to mitigate the worst outcomes of global heating.  Dr. Schleussner made it very clear that these prognoses are based on thousands of peer reviewed scientific papers.

Representatives of SirPlus showed us the scale of the amount of food which goes to waste daily and were able to activate the pupils in creating delicious samples.

The social business Ecosia GmbH is a sustainable search engine, whose representatives supported the congress by offering to plant trees for every participant taking part.

There were several presentations by pupils to explain what they had done during the workshops.

Pupils from the 3D Printer workshop explained that it is possible to use 3D printers to manufacture small structures, to replace damaged elements, so that new items do not need to be bought. They also explained that it is possible to develop more sustainable materials for moulding the plastic.

Another group presented an alternative mobility concept for the Ernst-Reuter-Platz, which involved a lot more pedestrian use and planting trees.

The idea of Earthships caught the attention of pupils, who demonstrated that it is possible to build houses from recycled building materials. However, there are a lot of regulatory issues in Germany which need to be resolved first.

The Klimagerechtigkeitsgruppe (Fair play for the climate) looked at the development of a cyclic production system and how to increase a fair participation in the developmental process.

Poster showing key issues of sustainability

Poster Session

In addition to the speeches there was a poster session around the edge of the “Lichthof”, (Forum of light) where pupils, students and representatives of companies presented posters, models and further information to the topics raised.

All in all it was a busy three days but it was a great opportunity to…

           “Listen to the Scientists!”

PlanET Strikes Back fff

“Why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future?”

Greta Thunberg, 16-jährige Klima-Aktivistin im Streik

Well, let’s learn what we can do, to minimise the harm already done!

Experten, die zugesagt haben,  Vorträge an unsere Schule zu halten

  • Phytoregeneration: Wie Sonnenblumen Schwermetallen aus dem Boden entfernen können von Frau Dr. Nehnevajova
  • Der Weg meiner Jeans – Baumwolle Virginia Hetze Pangea Haus
  • Wie viele Menschen kann unsere Erde ernähren? von Prof. Dr. Gudrun Kammasch,  Beuth Hochschule für Technik
  • Bildungsnetzwerk für Klima und Umwelt: Studenten on der FU und TU organisieren Workshops für die 10. Klassen (Hands-on Lösungen zum Thema Klima und Umwelt) an der TU am 23. und 24. September

Planet strikes back AG

First meeting of the planet strikes back AG yesterday. We agreed we would work closely with the Kopfsalat AG. We also agreed to try and get in speakers to tell us about organic certification, the route of cotton into clothes, the amount of people the planet can feed, the ability of sunflowers to remove contaminants from soil.

In school, we would like to display a cabinet which has alternatives to plastic. Next session we will go plalking (low energy form of plogging) – going for a walk and collecting rubbish while we do so. We would also like to chat to the cafeteria and get some ideas for increasing the amount of organically certified food.

TU Workshops for sustainability

The 10th grade classes from Schiller Gymnasium are going to visit the Technische Universität Berlin (TU) as part of the Fridaysforfuture programme organised by students of the TU and Freie Universität (FU) from the 23rd to 25th of September.  They will take part in hands-on workshops dealing with topics such as 3D printing with sustainable materials or developing a traffic concept for the Ernst-Reuter-Platz in Berlin.  They will them have the chance to present their work in a mini climate congress. 

This is a huge opportunity for pupils to get an insight into how universities work as well as realising there are practical steps we can take to mitigate the climate emergency.