Pupils show it off – students, parents, researchers and many other people join in. They all have one thing in common. They stand up for our future, or more precisely for the future of our children and their children‘s children. Are they the only philanthropists? Philanthropy comes from ancient Greek and “philos” means „friend“, “anthropos” means „human being“. It‘s about philanthropic action and a philanthropist is a person who likes human beings. Aren‘t we all philanthropists? Then why don‘t we act?
John Boynton Priestley once said: „Today‘s man: the dumbest creature on earth: He crawls into the big city in his car like a snail, absorbs the environmental toxins like a vacuum cleaner and is proud of what he has achieved”. Now, we as students are not stuck in traffic jams every day to travel to Berlin, but you can still sometimes question yourself. Do I ever need a car? Do I have to fly? How can I make my contribution in order to harm the environment as little as possible? In February 2014, the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote „Smog in China – dealers run out of breathing masks“. To protect themselves from bad air, Chinese people buy breathing masks or air purifiers in Beijing, which they set up in their apartments. Here in Germany we do not have these conditions yet. If we continue in this way, however, we will also face the problem of selling breathing masks, because pollutants are nitrogen oxides just like CO2.
Germans need in average about 4 times of one Earth – Don’t we have only one?
Everyone about the ecological footprint. It is indicative of the biologically productive area that is necessary to make the standard of living of an individual possible in the long term. On average, Germans would need 5.3 to 10.7 hectares of planted land per person. The fair ecological footprint would be 1.7 hectares per person. This means that Germans would need about 2.6 to 5.2 soils. With these statistics a clear call for action becomes apparent. Above all flying has an extremely bad effect on the environment. With two flights a year, we already consume more than the average German citizen. The longer the flight, the worse for the environment. Even if we otherwise pay attention to everything: live vegan, buy organic products, use only the bicycle or the public transport, heat sparingly, cause little garbage – unfortunately it remains a lifestyle on too large feet. Compared to my grandmother as a child, I already live in luxury, already as a student – compared to the average Brazilian woman, too. Both would have given a much better ecological footprint than me. A child growing up in Germany consumes 4 times as much as a child growing up in Pakistan.
We are never the course of the problems.
Of course, we don‘t usually see the problem with us, but with others. The MEPs, for example: It is outrageous that the Green MEPs flew so much in 2018 as never before and even more than the MEPs from other parties. It is also outrageous that, in addition to their Bahncard 100, MEPs are simply reimbursed for every domestic flight and many international flights! We should draw attention to such abuses – take to the streets and demand immediate change, but do we live totally kosher in environmental terms?
„I think the environment is very important, but you can‘t pay attention to everything“, student HWR Berlin.
„The plane would fly anyway,“ student HWR Berlin.
„It‘s very important to live in an environmentally conscious way, but I have to fly to Stuttgart, otherwise I won‘t be able to do it on time“, administration of the HWR Berlin.
We always manage to talk our way out of things in an excellent way, especially when it comes to one particularly bad polluter: flying. Another common argument is that population growth is the worst polluter. The population in parts of Africa is growing rapidly, but it‘s not Africans who pollute the environment the most, it‘s us. This is where action is needed.
We need legal regulations and taxation!
Politics must, of course, do something. Consumer goods that pollute the environment should become expensive, but of course this is usually to the detriment of the poorer population. The rule must be: socially weak people must be relieved on the other side.
Save the environment by gaining more money for other things!
However, you and I can also do something to make our planet future-proof. This depends very much on our consumption and the principle of Erich Fromm applies: „To have instead of to be“. In principle, this simply means consuming less and being more in the here and now. Reflecting on what you have and what you really need can make you feel good. Personal relationships and beautiful experiences are worth much more than money. On the consumption side, it is of course good to do something. So why not picking up food, others would not eat anymore, but still very good? You can do this though for example: foodsharing.de or “Sirplus” (sirlus.de). The fashion now is a used look. Why not trying more to fix your things or buying what has been worn? (Kleiderkreisel, Fleamarkets, …). Reduction of space is good. Are you sharing your apartment or it is tiny? You automatically need less energy, resources and in the same time your wallet does not empty as fast as the next night when you can spend the money to have some bears with friend. Why not inviting them, as you have more money now? Giving is one of the best feelings in the world. You could as well cook with food from the UniGardening project…
Never fly again? No more Currywurst?
Nobody should be condemned for their own behaviour. There must be no „flight shame“ and no shame that if you have no money, you simply go to the supermarkets that exploit the environment and farmers (Lidl, Aldi and co.). What
there should be is global attention and mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh, a mediation master, sees the possibility of getting out of the climate crisis in each of us. We no longer need to run and search for it, but simply reflect on ourselves and thus better understand ourselves and the earth.
Maybe we take a look at what a great life we actually have here in Europe, especially in Germany: We were born in a privileged society, rarely have to fear dying from an attack or an illness and are even allowed to study for free. Which person on our planet has so many advantages? Let’s meet for the next holidays as beautiful Caribbean Lusatia.