Reply To: Joachim Radkau – The Era of Ecology

Author Replies # Posted on November 19, 2014 at 15:23

Reply to Nik from Maria. I find Nik’s reflections very well thought-out. I agree with him that Radkau focuses somewhat too much on German organizations and people of importance for the development of movements there. Although European movements might be quite connected, there are still differences between countries regarding topics and organization and that could also have been illustrated in local projects. The debate about nuclear power is very interesting, both considering new options of how to continue using it, if that is an alternative, as well as how the nuclear energy is discussed in media and among grass roots and the civic society. I would say that most people do not know what they are talking about, although nevertheless anxiety for nuclear power plant breakdown is understandable. The world today is so much more scientific because of all techniques that are developed, tested and used, that it is very difficult to even try to understand negative and positive outcomes. Nevertheless I think that it is our responsibility to learn about facts when we engage in discussions, not only letting a sense of fear because of ignorance direct our choice. Solar and wind energy is very popular now, but for me they are just short term inefficient alternatives. How can environmentally aware individuals accept those sources as ecological and environmentally friendly? Just imagine what you need to do to transport the extremely heavy parts for the wind mills through sensitive nature, to maintain roads, etc. Problems with certain birds might be soluble, but there are other animals, like bats (important for pollination) we do not know much about. How does the sound with its low frequency affect animal, including us, in the long term use? Minerals for solar power screens are often “conflict minerals”. The effect of the BrightSource solar plant from the link was new to me. This is just an example of new unexpected consequences of well-meaning projects. But, at the same time as Radkau and many with him blame scientists and technicians for ill-conceived long term solutions and inventions, they are helping us to solve problems, invent alternatives etc. Being able to study nature’s behavior is essential when it comes to biomimetic. Learning from the way nature adapt to the environment, as for example knowing the concept of air-conditioning in termite mounds is important for how to understand how to construct environmentally friendly new buildings. Again, my experience of what good science is capable of achieving (just read about Philae and its 10 year long journey to and landing on the comet) can be crucial for saving the environment for further destruction, but it will not be easy. What will environmental historians, history of science and ideas historians write about in 25 years, just one generation from now? My hope for energy production is hydrogen gas with water as its only waste, which even might be used in dry regions.