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Yesterday I was invited by friends (thanks Kat & Deidre) to attend the ceremony for the 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize at the War Memorial in San Francisco. All 6 recipients were simply amazing people from all across the globe with inspiring stories in the fight to protect their local ecosystems from mindless destruction wrought by greed and short-sightedness. Their stories are reminders for all of us that no matter how bleak things may look, each of us has the power to enact change against all odds if we stay engaged and fight for environmental justice and a more sustainable earth on a local, grassroots level.

While my friends and I agreed that each of the 6 recipients were equally inspiring (and I'll write more about them), there was one honoree whose cause couldn't have been more timely. On the same day that Japanese officials raised the level of severity of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear plant disaster to 7 -- putting it on par with the April 26, 1986 reactor explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine -- Ursula Sladek, a mother of five from the tiny community of Schönau in Germany’s Black Forest region, was awarded this prestigious prize for creating her country’s first cooperatively-owned renewable power company in response to the disaster 25 years ago.

Here is Ms. Sladek in her own words:

What I find so inspiring and eye-opening about Ms. Sladek's and Schönau's story is that it puts the kibosh on the conventional wisdom that we are trapped in a lesser of two evils choice between nuclear and fossil fuel power. When she and her community were having the same discussion we're having now about how to reduce their energy consumption and shift to clean energy 25 years ago, she realized that the people with the most say in our energy system have the least interest in changing the status quo:

We wanted the energy companies to support us, but they said 'No,' because they wanted to sell energy, not save energy. So one day we had the idea to take over the grid.

telephone wiresYou see, for-profit energy companies are interested in, well, profit. We just kind of take that for granted and it's part of a commonly accepted and rarely questioned paradigm, but the people of Schönau thought about that premise and it dawned on them how insane it is to waste away all their great grandchildren's resources just so that the energy companies can turn a profit.

But long before they even talked to the power company, Sladek and her community had started to pay attention to their energy consumption and thinking more critically about how energy was produced. As they began to conserve more on their own they realized how unnecessarily wasteful the main power grid system was and that if it was up to them they could run it much more efficiently and cleaner. Imagine that, people paying attention to their own habits and committing to changing the things that don't make sense.    

Next thing you know, democracy happens:

The power company KWR’s license to operate the Schönau grid was up for renewal by the local government in 1991, and Sladek and her partners developed a nation-wide campaign to raise funds and support for her group to take over.  The campaign led to two separate votes by the local people in favor of allowing Sladek’s group to manage the grid.  Raising more than 6 million deutschmarks (equivalent to 3 million Euros) to purchase the grid from KWR through their national campaign, Sladek and her partners became energy entrepreneurs practically overnight, setting up their cooperative company, Schönau Power Supply (EWS), in order to operate as an energy provider.  By 1997, Sladek’s company was in control of the Schönau grid. She took on the role of president and continues to lead the company today.

Once they had the ability to produce, buy, sell, and distribute energy, Sladek’s EWS got to work on decentralizing renewable power facilities, including solar installations, cogeneration units that both heat and power homes, small hydroelectric projects, as well as wind power and biomass. And of course, conservation is key to their business model that functions like a non-profit and is thus able to reward its customers for using less.


Today, the company has 1000 cooperative owners and provides renewable and clean power to more than 100,000 homes and businesses throughout the country. I was particularly happy to hear that they supply power to the Ritter Sport factory near my hometown of Stuttgart. My favorite chocolate ever, though this might be a dangerous piece of information. ;-)

We all know this but it bears repeating and reminding what happens when people take matters in their own hands, on a grassroots local level:

The German government is now aligned with EWS’s sustainability ideals, with a goal of deriving 100% of the country’s power from renewable sources by 2050.  EWS has grown thanks to growing public support for renewable energy in Germany, and the subsequent measures taken by the government, which has encouraged investment in renewable energy projects throughout the country.

As Ms. Sladek said at the end of her acceptance speech:

Clean energy needs the engagement of everybody. The most important thing is to start now. Please act and make change.



crossposted at A World of Words

Originally posted to Nuclear Free DK on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by J Town, Global Expats, A Perfect Conversation, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Power to the People Power (129+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    supercereal, Louisiana 1976, lotlizard, JekyllnHyde, wilderness voice, possum, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Jim P, mrkvica, JanF, Gabriel D, cotterperson, kevinpdx, monkeybrainpolitics, Mnemosyne, beach babe in fl, boatsie, slapshoe, Massman, badger, tigerdog, jnhobbs, doinaheckuvanutjob, hanswall, DontTaseMeBro, glitterscale, Louise, old wobbly, jan4insight, Wolf10, Marie, ybruti, Simplify, JayBat, ridemybike, JayC, means are the ends, carpunder, AgavePup, Anak, Jose Bidenio, mint julep, FinchJ, LaughingPlanet, radical simplicity, Crazy like a fox, Lawrence, mahakali overdrive, happymisanthropy, terabytes, Losty, ActivistGuy, Milly Watt, cooper888, mimi, Got a Grip, Wrench44, randomfacts, dkistner, rage, Ebby, jhawklefty, UTLiberal, maybeeso in michigan, Eric Blair, miriam, vixenflem, ctsteve, Joieau, shopkeeper, KayCeSF, wader, Hanging Up My Tusks, RJP9999, marleycat, Agathena, subtropolis, Magnifico, bluesheep, Calamity Jean, translatorpro, gerald 1969, eeff, Involuntary Exile, Lorikeet, Lujane, DRo, aufklaerer, IM, The Wizard, angelajean, Democrats Ramshield, Diana in NoVa, someRaven, northsylvania, Prognosticator, Cedwyn, princesspat, WV Democrat, CA Nana, SaraBeth, Oldowan, Pohjola, ashowboat, wonmug, Jeffersonian Democrat, Pager, elziax, zmom, redlum jak, Russgirl, kumaneko, greenbastard, US Blues, SeaTurtle, Erica Jan, dirtfarmer, pat bunny, beforedawn, deviant24x, TexasTwister, splashy, Regina in a Sears Kit House, jhop7, mofembot, sturunner, Zinman, DawnN, petral
  •  I'm really impressed with Germany's approach to (35+ / 0-)

    energy. What a contrast it would be to have the country with the most nuclear power (France with 60%+ electricity from nuclear I believe) neighboring a country that will shut all its nuclear power down and eventually replace it with renewable (probably replace it with natural gas in the short term). I really think Germany is going to be the first country to hit 100% renewable without large hydro.

    I'm rooting for you Germany!

  •  I wonder if she would consider helping run EnBW, (10+ / 0-)

    … the major energy provider in Baden-Württemberg that will now be part of the responsibility of the new Green-led state government.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:42:51 PM PDT

    •  "She" meaning Ursula Sladek, of course. n/t (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citisven, JanF, cotterperson, translatorpro, IM

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:43:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Or at least share her knowledge. (6+ / 0-)

      A lot of people claim that renewable power isn't "baseload", or that it's too "variable" to be used.  It seems to me that the success of Schönau indicates that renewable power can be all or nearly all of the supply.  From the diary, it sounds like the only fossil fuel generated power is from cogeneration, where the fossil fuel was being burned for heat anyway and electric generation was piggybacked onto it.  .  

      Renewable energy brings national security.      -6.25, -6.05

      by Calamity Jean on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:10:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, but it's still a big task (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        going from 5.5% to 100% . . . .

        And Germany has made a HUGE effort to get to the 5.5% . . . . . and as far as they've gone, well good for them.

        But if you look at what they're really banking on for the future is "clean coal"

        We'll see how that turns out.

        •  In the meantime, Germany burns a lot of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          dirty coal

          Despite its reputation as a world leader in solar- and wind-power technologies (16 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources), Germany also has a dirty secret. It is highly dependent on lignite, so-called brown coal, which is one of the filthiest fuels known to mankind, emitting 27 percent more carbon dioxide to produce the same amount of electricity as regular black coal. The country mines some 180 million metric tons of the stuff every year—slightly more than China and the United States combined—and is home to six of the 10 most polluting power plants in Europe.
          •  Yes, but they have on 30 MW clean coal (0+ / 0-)

            plant, and generate 2% of their electricity from solar.

            so let's call it a wash . . ..

            •  I wouldn't call it a wash. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy, translatorpro
              so let's call it a wash . . ..  
              I'd call it work in progress.  Germany isn't finished installing renewable energy, and they are trying a lot harder than the US is.  They have a lot of wind power, and a total of 16% renewables is nothing to sneeze at, especially since they aren't done yet.  

              Renewable energy brings national security.      -6.25, -6.05

              by Calamity Jean on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 01:31:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, the US is at about 11% renewables (0+ / 0-)

                so they're definitely doing better.

                About all that wind power, that seems to kill a lot of bats (who are already suffering some type of devastaing mite-or fungal-infection) . . . .

                Bats are an economic boon worth approximately $23 billion per year, and possibly up to $54 billion, to U.S. agriculture, a study in today’s issue of Science estimates


                Some of that (about $3.7 billion, if I'm remembering correctly) can be made up by increased use of pesticides to account for the amount of insects that bats usually eat.  

                Monsanto will be smiling!

                •  I ran across a paper on line not long ago (0+ / 0-)
                  About all that wind power, that seems to kill a lot of bats  
                  about a way to cut down significantly on wind turbine bat kills.  Nothing is 100%, but this appears to help a lot. (pdf).  It involves stopping the turbines from an hour before sunset to an hour after sunrise on low-wind nights when bats are most active.  It doesn't cost the wind farm operator much, because they can still run the turbines overnight on windy nights, and during the day even if the wind is low.

                  Renewable energy brings national security.      -6.25, -6.05

                  by Calamity Jean on Fri Apr 15, 2011 at 09:22:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Would you please provide a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          link to the source of your information? Because you also seem to be leaving out the progress in technology related to "clean coal" (which I'm not a fan of, incidentally, but at least I try to be fair): I live in Germany and sometimes translate texts related to renewable energy, so my information is about as straight up as it gets.

          For example, have you read this?
          White writes for "The Guardian".

          or this?

          or this?

          Particularly this last article delves into the thinking and various approaches to clean coal being worked on in Europe. At the same time, they are quite aware of the problems involved. So Germany's position is quite a bit more nuanced that you seem to make it out to be.

          A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

          by translatorpro on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 09:55:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly what information do you want (0+ / 0-)

            a link to?

            The "clean coal" meme is easily reinforced by a Google search . .. . . you can get plenty of articles (which embrace the idea with various degrees of enthusiasm) about Germany's plan to go into "clean coal" big time.

            As I posted elsewhere in these diary comments, the 0.5% for solar was a mis-calculation on my part (somebody else posted a link to the raw data) - solar actually generated 2% of Germany's electricity in 2010.

            btw, your links didn't work for me.

            •  The link feature doesn't (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy, lotlizard

              work as it used to in DK3 and I don't comment often, so sorry about that. Here they are again and hope they work this time:




              I'm aware that "clean coal" is controversial, and as I said, I would prefer other types of renewable energies, but especially the 3rd article above gives a very clear-eyed analysis of the pros and cons (about half-way through), and the state of technology in this connection.
              Re solar energy in Germany:


              7,400 MW of Solar PV Installed in One Year

              Doubling its previous record, the German solar PV industry installed 7,400 MW from nearly one-quarter million individual systems in 2010, according to the finial report by the Bundesnetzagentur.

              In December alone, Germans installed more than 1,000 MW of solar PV, enough solar capacity to generate 1 TWh of electricity under German conditions. While they represent only half that installed in June 2010, the December installations were 50% greater than total solar PV installed in the USA in 2010 and as much as that rumored to have been installed in Japan last year.

              And this in a country not particularly well-known for balmy weather and sunny skies...

              A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

              by translatorpro on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 10:59:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Ritter chocolate! (9+ / 0-)

    with whole hazelnuts!  the best thing going in the chocolate realm!

    Scientific Materialism debunked here

    by wilderness voice on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:49:36 PM PDT

  •  odd, shows your diary queued for community (5+ / 0-)

    spotlight, but only posted 20 minutes ago.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:54:24 PM PDT

  •  Great stuff, citisven. (15+ / 0-)

    Taking it out of the hands of the for-profits and putting it right in the hands of the for-people.

    Republished in the:
    J Town Babbling Brook

    Burble Burble

    Much of life is knowing what to Google
    (and blogging at BPI Campus)

    by JanF on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 02:01:09 PM PDT

  •  Republished to (8+ / 0-)

    A Perfect Conversation.

    What an amazing idea! A German community took over their power grid by forming an energy co-op. Could something similar be done in the United States?

    There can be no left-of-center if the left is in the center.
    Have you seen a pest, critter, or bug? You need KosBusters!

    by Gabriel D on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 02:07:26 PM PDT

    •  Thanks Gabriel (5+ / 0-)

      I think it can happen here. People have been fighting for it for years here in SF, and if I'm not mistaken, Marin County voted on public power just recently. I know it can be done, it's not like Germans are particularly prone to change, but when enough determined people demand it and work for it, good things can happen anywhere.

    •  It was done here years ago (12+ / 0-)

      WA State and OR, at least in most of the rural areas, have Public Utility Districts which own both the generating facilities (mostly hydro) and grid.

      We pay the second lowest rates in the nation here (I think the lowest are the county across the Columbia River from us). It's unsubsidized (except for being financed by government bonding) and pays its own way.

      We also supply power (at higher prices) to the west coast grid through the Bonneville Power Administration.

      I am, however greatly pissed at my PUD today. They also built out a fiber network that covers about 70% of the county, but yesterday they decided to turn down a $25 million grant to cover the remaining 30% (including me), because they had mismanaged the build out and failed to estimate costs correctly.

      We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

      by badger on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 04:21:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Out in the midwest (9+ / 0-)

        it was the RECs - Rural Electric Cooperatives - that got electricity to all the outlying areas where big power companies didn't care to extend. Lots of town and county-size hydro, using reservoirs built in the 1930s to combat the dust bowl (and make-work for the CCC). They're still going strong.

        Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

        by Joieau on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 09:42:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's amazing the things I learn on this site. (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe I'm the only one who didn't know about this. Everywhere I've lived, it's always been for-profit companies that ran the grid. And considering how telcos and cable providers squashed community attempts to provide net access, I would have thought something similar would happen with the power industry. Glad to know that hasn't happened.

        There can be no left-of-center if the left is in the center.
        Have you seen a pest, critter, or bug? You need KosBusters!

        by Gabriel D on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 10:22:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  um (0+ / 0-)

      American Public Power Association- 2,000 community owned electric utilities
      NRECA -

      841 distribution and 68 G&T cooperatives serve:

      * 42 million people in 47 states

      * 18 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems, and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties in the United States

      * 12 percent of the nation's population
      To perform their mission, electric cooperatives:

      * Own assets worth $112 billion (distribution and G&T co-ops combined);
      * Own and maintain 2.5 million miles, or 42 percent, of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering three quarters of the nation’s landmass;

      * Deliver 10 percent of the total kilowatt-hours sold in the United States each year;

      * Generate nearly 5 percent of the total electricity produced in the United States each year ;

      Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

      by jam on Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 04:39:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is so inspiring, sven. what a great story! (11+ / 0-)

    thank you so much for sharing and yes, a wonderful diary for today... one we all need so much right now.

  •  putting up in the coverage@kos in the jnl ROVs:) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, translatorpro, Agathena
  •  I'm not sure how far (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the power industry in Germany is deregulated, I didn't know anything about it's deregulation. But if it includes more deregulation than what allows consumers to choose their provider, I would worry about the quality and safety of the plants that are being used to generate power cheap enough to attracted the masses.

    "Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money."

    by cinematographer on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:25:18 PM PDT

  •  :-) (5+ / 0-)

    Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. -Helen Keller

    by ridemybike on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 05:55:17 PM PDT

  •  EWS is great! (13+ / 0-)
    Today, the company has 1000 cooperative owners and provides renewable and clean power to more than 100,000 homes and businesses throughout the country. I was particularly happy to hear that they supply power to the Ritter Sport factory near my hometown of Stuttgart. My favorite chocolate ever, though this might be a dangerous piece of information. ;-)

    I'm one of those 100k customers.  :)

    Not only is it great to get electricity from a renewables company that started out as an anti-nuke grassroots movement, it's also great to be with an electricity company that values "customer" service... every time I've called them I've immediately had a live person answer the phone... no waiting loop, no voice options, just a friendly live voice at the end of the other line.

    Another great thing about them is that half a eurocent of every kwH paid is a donation that goes towards building more renewables power plants.... an in-built investment in and donation to renewables, so to speak.

    So, whenever you see a comment from me here on DKos, know that it is EWS powered.  :)

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 07:34:22 PM PDT

  •  Energy pioneer communities (4+ / 0-)

    My great-grandparents emigrated to the US from the Danish island of Samsø, which has a similar story to tell.  

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 08:01:56 PM PDT

  •  your diaries always make me ... a bit homesick :-) (10+ / 0-)

    I wonder how hard it is to buy part of a grid as community.
    I live in one of the oldest co-op communities (1600 tiny rowhouses) in the US and they want to renew their whole energy and heating and insulation system  in 2015.

    I was wondering before, if there wouldn't be a possibility  for the co-op to install solar on all of the 1600 roofs. If we had a system that would allow to feed back into a co-op owned grid, wow, what an idea.

    What a cute little sophisticated town.

    You deserve a lot of Ritter Sport chocolate for that diary.
    My favorite is milk chocolate with hazelnuts and raisins.

    Sigh, imagine a community like that in the US with little stores like butcher, bakery, vegetable groceries etc. completely independent from super markets ... neighborhood gardens and if we even could take care of our own groundwater resources ... that would be something.

    •  it's definitely not easy (5+ / 0-)

      because there is too much at stake for the power companies to keep their monopolies. So they fight tooth and nail against public power, as they did in Schönau. But persistence can pay off, not just over there, but in some communities in the U.S. Like in Marin County, where they voted for public power last year and won. Somebody mentioned it upthread, and it sounded like it's really going to take off. It seems to me that if your co-op is going to go through renewing their entire energy system that would be the perfect time to install solar. I guess it depends on a bunch of different factors, but it should definitely be worth a discussion. Especially if it's a co-op I would think that there'd be a lot of members interested in it.

      I like the white chocolate with hazelnuts, mimi, but I'll pretty much any flavor that falls into my hands. ;-)

  •  Beautiful diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for calling my attention to this.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 09:28:21 PM PDT

  •  Germans have been showing us this for years. (6+ / 0-)

    Like every other anti-nuke nation on earth, they burn oodles and oodles of dangerous fossil fuels, dump the waste in the atmosphere, expecting that no one will notice, and receive big, big, big, big cheers from people who know very little science and couldn't care less about climate change.

    If the Germans stopped building gas lines and digging coal (mostly in other people's countries) they'd be living in the dark.

    Have a nice day.

    •  are you saying what these people are doing (8+ / 0-)

      is a bad idea? Are you saying we shouldn't even try to conserve energy and develop alternatives to both nuclear and fossil fuels? I certainly get that not all nuclear plants are going to be switched off tomorrow, and that's okay, but to say that what Ursula Sladek and her community have achieved is nothing but window dressing strikes me as a bit strange. Obviously, it's been working quite well, supplying clean energy to 100,000 customers, and while Germany as a whole may not be there yet, it seems to me that it's a worthwhile goal to pursue.

    •  Since you don't provide any (7+ / 0-)

      links to support your statement, here's one to counter you:

      New Record for German Renewable Energy in 2010

      Wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar cells, and biogas digesters now provide nearly 17% of Germany's electricity.

      Meanwhile, the German network agency (Bundesnetzagentur) issued its final update on the installation of solar photovoltaics (solar PV) in 2010.

      The results are nothing short of startling and will add fuel to the heated debate about how countries such as Japan can meet their electricity needs without reliance on nuclear power...

      ...In 2010 renewables generated more electricity in Germany than gas-fired power plants — nearly as much as hard coal — and are fast approaching the contribution of nuclear power.

      The article continues with many more statistics on various types of energy in Germany, including the ones you mention. You might want to check your facts or at least link to sources supporting your arguments before posting such a negative comment to a diary that is generally inspiring (yes, we can). Or is there a particular reason to denigrate the efforts of the people of Schönau/Germany?

      A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

      by translatorpro on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:18:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Denigrate the efforts" to support the nuclear (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        As economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote recently, financial meltdown and nuclear meltdown are closely related, both products of a system of delusional speculation, technological hubris, public subsidies and private greed.

        This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

        by Agathena on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 12:42:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Germany will be phasing out is coal plants any day now, won't they?


        An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
        -- H. L. Mencken

        by bryfry on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 12:59:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Show me any place that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I or anyone else in this thread said anything of the kind. To the contrary, I address  the topic of coal-fired plants in this very diary:

          I don't get why you and a few others have such a hard time saying anything positive about Germany's sustained efforts to find solutions to energy issues and climate change, and that country has done so from quite early on. Is it sour grapes or ignorance? I really want to know. Of course, another reason could be you have some hidden agenda and push certain types of energy on this blog for whatever reason. I guess I'll never know for sure, and frankly, I don't really care because I'm informed enough to know a good thing when I see it. And you are not it.

          A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

          by translatorpro on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 01:49:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's the cynic in me (0+ / 0-)

            that feels compelled to point out that the German way "to achieve a nuclear free future" is to build a bunch of coal plants and put up some "renewable" window dressing.

            Hell, the German Environment Minister was saying exactly this just a couple of years ago.

            But for all the bullshit that is being floated on blogs such as this one, Germany will not be "nuclear free." Recent events provide an illustrative example.

            The Germans shut down their nuclear plants because of something that happened half a world away in Japan, and what do they do? They import nuclear-generated electricity from just across the border.

            If it wasn't so pathetic, it would be funny.

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 05:44:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The very article you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              link to also contains this tidbit, which doesn't really support your point of view (bolding is mine for emphasis):

              Germany is normally a net exporter of energy, but nine of the country's 17 reactors were offline at the end of March due to the closures and maintenance.
              Nuclear power has been very unpopular in Germany ever since radioactivity from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster drifted across the country. Germany has decided to phase out the technology over the next 25 years, gradually supplanting atomic energy with other sources.

              It seems to me you didn't read your own source very thoroughly.

              Read more:

              A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

              by translatorpro on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 10:49:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

                I guess you can't read.

                I said that when Germany shuts down its nuclear plants, it is a net importer of electricity, so it imports nuclear-generated electricity from France.

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 04:34:13 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You conveniently left out (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  explicitly stating that it is usually a net exporter, and there are mitigating circumstances, like reviewing their nuclear energy policy and the safety of their older nuclear power plants in the wake of the Japanese disaster. That is what has led to the unusual situation that it is now in: Shutting down nine of its 17 reactors, which is more than 50% of their nuclear capacity. Odd how adding that little piece of information changes the story.

                  I mean come on, at least be honest and report the whole story, and not just the part that supports your one-sided criticism. It's not a secret - just use Google and put in "German nuclear energy import". You may notice that the articles on the topic are all extremely recent.

                  Another fact you omit is that the target date of getting out of nuclear energy entirely is 25 years, not today or tomorrow. Jeebus.

                  Here's the REST of the German energy story, and why they want to stop being dependent on foreign sources of energy altogether:


                  Germany is relatively poor in raw materials. Only lignite and potash salt are available in economically significant quantities. Power plants burning lignite are one of the main sources of electricity in Germany. Oil, natural gas and other resources are, for the most part, imported from other countries. Germany imports about two thirds of its energy.

                  Taking all that into consideration, I think the country has been doing a fine job of it, making progress year by year. It also proves - which may be your problem - that it is possible to do without nuclear energy in the long run. So take your lemons elsewhere, please. This is my last post on this topic. Good day, sir.

                  A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                  by translatorpro on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 05:53:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Which German Environment (0+ / 0-)

              Minister are you talking about, and what is your source? You don't say which party he belongs to, nor which party happened to be in power at the time. Without a link to your source your statement is baseless, especially if you don't understand anything about German politics or parties.

              In case you hadn't heard, the Green Party just cleaned up in a bastion of conservatism - the state of Baden-Württemberg - just last week after the majority party (CDU) had been in power for over 50 years.  For the first time, there will now be a Green Party Ministerpräsident (like a governor) in a coalition with the SPD. This has more than a little bearing on the national energy policies Germany has been and will be implementing in the future. So any arguments you renewable energy nay-sayers have are essentially meaningless without the  political context. The Green Party, which was founded in the 1970s ( has been instrumental in raising awareness of environmental issues and shaping Germany's energy and environmental policies for a long time, which is why Germany is a leader in renewable energy today. With the re-energizing (pun intended) of the arguments against nuclear power, their influence will certainly grow even more.

              I think part of the problem is also that Americans - and I am one - who have no foreign experience (of whom I am NOT one) can't tolerate the idea that the US is not top dog in something, especially in an area where it  has the potential and SHOULD be No. 1. It makes me very sad to say that, and I'm rooting for my country to become a leader in environment and energy policy some day.

              A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

              by translatorpro on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 01:32:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here, by the way, is a (0+ / 0-)

                very recent interview (April 5, 2011) with the current German Federal Environment Minister, Dr. Norbert Röttgen (who belongs to the conservative CDU party):


                Germany is quickly moving away from nuclear power and towards renewable energies. SPIEGEL spoke with Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen about his government's policy reversal, the costs for German consumers and whether his conservative party might partner with the Green Party in the future.

                A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                by translatorpro on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 02:40:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  It was only two years ago (0+ / 0-)

                that Germany's environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel (with the SDP, not right-wing), was saying: "We need eight to twelve new coal plants if we want to get out of nuclear energy." This was the environment minister pushing for the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Germany.

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 04:32:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Because they have chosen to delay their efforts (0+ / 0-)

            to get off fossil fuels in order to indulge in panic over nukes.

            •  If the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl (0+ / 0-)

              had blown across your back yard and made your flower garden toxic for you and your children and locally grown produce unsafe to eat, you might be a little more careful of nuclear energy yourself. I, and many others, would prefer they err on the side of caution than wait for the next incident.

              Besides the political (which you probably know nothing about), there are also cultural considerations, which most people don't think about: The Germans are far more cautious in many ways than the Americans are. Sometimes it's a disadvantage, but in terms of the economic policy, that characteristic has been a decided advantage. All you have to do is read the reports that the worldwide recession was basically a small blip on Germany's economic horizon. They came through it with flying colors. Frankly, I'm MUCH better off earning my living here in Germany than in my native US.

              You are obviously a nuclear energy supporter, so I think you are wasting your time on this blog, where most of us are not. That much is clear. There seem to be a number of you who flock to these types of diaries to tout nuclear energy and denigrate any efforts to finding alternative solutions with renewable energy. Meh.

              A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

              by translatorpro on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 12:07:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's nothing cautious about extending your use (0+ / 0-)

                of fossil fuels. Gemany burns plenty of coal, and will burn more becuase of this push to eliminate nuclear power.

                •  You don't seem to have read all the (0+ / 0-)

                  comments. I address coal and renewables and nuclear and the energy situation in Germany in general, etc. etc. throughout the discussions here, and I'm not going to repeat myself. One which is especially relevant to your statement (of the many posts I made, nearly all of which have linked sources), is here:
                  and here is another:

                  Again, for some reason you critics of renewable energy efforts never source any of your statements. As long as you don't do so, I certainly will not consider your comments to be of any value at all.

                  A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                  by translatorpro on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 07:23:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The target date was moved up to 2020. (0+ / 0-)

                    So that's nine years out, not 25.

                    You want sources? Here:



                    The effect of the nuclear shutdowns has been to increase fossil fuel use.

                    •  Thanks for posting the links (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      However, the energy discussions in Germany are ongoing, and no final decisions have been made nor will they be for some time, not until all sides and issues have been examined thoroughly.

                      The Germans are cautious, no matter what you believe - and I know this for a fact because I have lived here as an American expat for 25 years and have taught inter-cultural awareness to managers at a couple of major international German companies - a Siemens company, for one.

                      Unlike the US, the country signed the Kyoto Protocol, and has made good progress:

                      While the emissions increased somewhat again in 2010, they are still below the Kyoto targets:

                      So all in all, I think they have done and are STILL doing what is possible in terms of reducing carbon emissions, as it is generally a very logical, rational, reality-based culture  (i.e. they don't have the large number (if any at all) of global warming deniers or tea party types that the US does), I have every reason to think that Germany will achieve their goals, even if there are setbacks every now and then. German engineering knowhow is among the best in the world (think of their automobile brands: VW, Mercedes and BMW), as well as other technology, like solar and wind power, for example, and there is also a strong, active Green Party to keep them honest.

                      So...any statement on what their energy plans are is premature, and I would suggest you wait and see what they are going to be before making categorical statements that are misleading, if not downright wrong.  It's ALL speculative at the moment, even if it is clear that renewables are the preferred solution. The crux is in what can be ACHIEVED in reality. It's also not a good idea to apply American cultural thinking to anyplace besides the US. It doesn't work, believe me.

                      A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                      by translatorpro on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 11:26:08 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What we've seen of their plans so far ... (0+ / 0-)

                        ... doesn't look very promising:


                        I'm sure there are plenty of environmentalists who would try to spin this by solely focusing on the increase in renewable energy, but the bottom line is that this is a disastrous energy policy to pursue.

                        •  This discussion is over. (0+ / 0-)

                          I'll say it one last time: Nothing has been decided yet and the diagram is an educated GUESS which Der Spiegel (who I worked for at one time, btw) has turned into a diagram.
                          It would be more fruitful if you expended your efforts/complaints on changing things to your liking in the US, which is a much bigger consumer of energy, or on bigger polluters - and there are many, than expounding on the energy policy of a foreign country with a mere 83 m people that has successfully managed to reduce its CO2 emissions already and is continuing to do so. I'm willing to wait a few years to see how it is shaping up in reality, and am not going to waste any more time on someone else's idle speculation.

                          A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                          by translatorpro on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 12:22:17 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The data for that chart comes from the German (0+ / 0-)

                            government. Do you have some good reason to think that the numbers are widely off base, or are you simply unwilling to examine the potential consequences of your policy choices?

                          •  YOU are ignoring the fact (0+ / 0-)

                            that I am a US citizen who happens to live abroad, and I have stated that fact several times in comments throughout this thread, which tells me something about your reading comprehension skills. Or do you need to see a birth certificate? German energy policy is not MY policy, dude, I can't vote here. I just happen to know a lot more about the way things work in Germany than you do from your US vantage point. If you knew more about the culture, then you would realize that making diagrams based on theoretical data is a favorite German pastime that appeals to their analytical mindset and means very little. As I said, and I seem to have to repeat myself to you, I'm going to wait and see what the energy policy IS - the final word has not been spoken and won't be until the German government finishes its study on nuclear power and presents concrete policy proposals in the next months. In any event, I will continue to applaud any steps taken in replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources  - which is what this diary is actually about - and watch with bated breath how long it takes for my native country, THE USA, to come anywhere near Germany's achievements in this regard.

                            A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                            by translatorpro on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 11:14:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes, they are widely off base - and being misused (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I don't mean to interject into a two-commenter discussion, but you did ask a question that has a fairly clear answer so I thought I should provide it. The numbers are "widely off base" and being misued in this context.

                            You appear to have taken, second-hand from a German newspaper, one of many forecasts of the possible German electricity generation mix in 2030, and represented it as "the" government position.

                            There are lots of different projected German government-published energy forecasts to 2030 one could find and use, not only from other sources than the BMU but even from the BMU itself. I have no idea which BMU publication Der Spiegel used to show a 2030 estimate of only around 40% electricity from renewables, but anyone who has read other publications from the BMU would know this estimate is unusually low.

                            The most prominent BMU source of projected estimates would probably have to be the annual Leitstudie ("Lead Study") series, available as PDF downloads from, and the numbers in recent editions of that series are very different to the graphic from Der Spiegel that you cited. For example, the Leitstudie 2008 gave a 2030 estimate of 54% electricity from renewables, and with recent growth in renewable construction rates the Leitstudie 2010 changed that estimate to around 70%.

                            Your use of one newspaper graphic to claim of "disastrous energy policy" is tenuous at best. Given that -- putting crystal ball gazing to 2030 aside for a moment and looking at current use right now -- Germany uses around half as much fossil fuel per capita as the USA (and that's actually fairly consistent across the three main fossil fuels: half as much oil, half as much natural gas, and half as much coal), I can think of countries other than Germany to which I'd be quicker to label energy policy as disastrous.

                          •  Thank you very much (0+ / 0-)

                            for a reality-based assessment of Germany's current energy consumption. I'm definitely more of a very interested layperson than scientist or energy expert, and though I was pretty sure the Der Spiegel diagram was probably not reflecting the true situation, I could not have provided the information to refute Mr. /Ms. Recall's erroneous assumptions as you did "mit links"* ;-).

                            *If you don't speak German this means you are "able to do something blindfolded", so you know your stuff! Kudos. If you don't mind, I'm going to follow you so I can learn more about the subjects energy and environment.

                            A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

                            by translatorpro on Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 04:23:03 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (5+ / 0-)
      If the Germans stopped building gas lines and digging coal (mostly in other people's countries) they'd be living in the dark.

      Germany is the world leader in renewable energies exactly because the political and business elites are very aware of the relative scarcity of fossile energy sources and the (political) infeasibility of nuclear power in Germany. While it is true that Germany is a major polluter, it's the greenest among the leading industrial economies, and at least it doesn't conquer and occupy the countries whose resources it is interested in...anymore.

      Look, I'll rant against Germany all day with you, for instance for their role as a leading arms producer and supplier, but when it comes to green energy, you're kinda barking up the wrong tree here.

      In this particular case, Germany can (and probably will) serve as a role model. The German government is very close to negotiating a deal to get out of nuclear altogether in the foreseeable future, and after Fukushima, the political climate will become increasingly hostile to proponents of nuclear power everywhere. Which politician can go on the air and say 'Nuclear power is safe' with a straight face?

      Wherever there is a popular movement to get out of nuclear, Germany will provide the proof that it is possible while maintaining international competitiveness as an industrial economy.

      "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

      by aufklaerer on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 01:58:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  nuclear power is safe (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        superheed, bryfry, mojo workin, Recall

        unless you hit a 40 year old plant with a 9.0 earthquake and a 30 foot tsunami.  

        I understand that 9.0 earthquakes and 30 foot tsunamis are a common occurrence and ANY other power plant/chemical plant/refinery/building in the world would be safe under those conditions, so maybe I am wrong.

        "Yes, I know my enemy. They're the teachers who taught me to fight me, compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission, ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite. All of which are American dreams....."

        by rickrocket on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 08:13:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even if your logic was sound (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          translatorpro, citisven

          and it isn't, because it's no argument for nuclear power that chemical plants are unsafe, too (and probably not close to the same risk level a nuclear plant poses when hit by a plane), there would still remain the unresolved issue of the used nuclear material.

          Fortunately, yours will be an increasingly rare position, for most people are proven to be very risk averse, so I'm quite confident nuclear is on its way out. Other nations may take the lead, but sooner or later, the US will follow. Let's just hope it's not after a major earth quake in California and a worst case scenario that includes a leaking reactor...and you know California has been waiting for 'the Big One' for quite a while now...

          "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

          by aufklaerer on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 01:11:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  To repeat my post from above: (0+ / 0-)

          If the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl had blown across your back yard and made your flower garden toxic for you and your children and locally grown produce unsafe to eat, you might be a little more careful of nuclear energy yourself. I, and many others, would prefer they err on the side of caution than wait for the next incident.

          There are NO GUARANTEES that anything is safe, dude. So you and your buds can go take your nuclear ball and find some other blog to play in.

          A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

          by translatorpro on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 12:12:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  unless something unexpected happens (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          So are you telling us that Chernobyl was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami?
          Not considering the nuclear waste yet, which needs to be stored securely for something like a hundred thousand years. (Plutonium has a half-life of 20thousand years or so.) Going back the same time in the past, Neanderthal man had not evolved yet, the US were teeming with mammoth unbothered by humans, it would be 70thousand years to the invention of cave painting and 90thousand years to the invention of agriculture and writing.
          Oh, and please just imagine power prices if the costs of a security crews' wages over one hundred thousand years by the nuclear waste dump were included in the price ...

          Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

          by intruder from Old Europe on Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 05:41:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Alot of things are safe.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ..until something unexpected happens. Thats basically saying its safe aslong as i ignore the risks.
          also the danger of a nuclear power plant is greater than that of any other building in the world. There will always be a "restrisiko" and as long as that risk is so dangerous as it is with nuclear power, there is no way one can responsibly continue to use it.
          As a german living in the now green-red
          baden-württemberg i am very happy that germany will most likely get out of nuclear energy within the next decade or two.

          "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

          by Mudderway on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 11:00:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, they're the world's leaders in "clean coal" (0+ / 0-)

      they already have a 30 MW plant operating!!

      •  Oh, boy. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Your sarcastic comments merely sound like sour grapes. The nay-sayers flocking to this diary (and any other thread which shows some promise in renewable energy initiatives) are really scraping the bottom of the (oil) barrel with cherry-picked "facts". If that fails, there is always ridicule or sarcasm to fall back on.
        There is definitely a pattern here, or why else would all these guys show up long AFTER the diary has fallen off the front page?

        A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

        by translatorpro on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 03:00:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  spot on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bryfry, mojo workin

      also, providing power to 100000 people is easy.  Providing base load for 30,000,000 in extreme heat or cold with reliability is significantly more difficult.  

      I am all for alternative energy.

      The reality is that renewables and alternative sources cannot provide the base load that nuclear plants and coal plants provide.  Coal plants are horrible polluters, so nuclear is currently the best choice until a better base load provider is available and economically feasible.

      Any other discussion is pure fantasy/wishful thinking.

      "Yes, I know my enemy. They're the teachers who taught me to fight me, compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission, ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite. All of which are American dreams....."

      by rickrocket on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 08:10:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Germany (0+ / 0-)

      imports coal from South Africa (pdf), for crying out loud. They import coal from half way around the world. (See (pdf) the ships ready to transport coal to Germany.)

      If that isn't an indication of how bankrupt German thinking is on energy, then I don't know what is. It would be one thing if they were using domestic coal supplies, but they get their coal from Poland, Russia, and from half way around the world in South Africa.

      An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
      -- H. L. Mencken

      by bryfry on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 12:58:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The plan involves building a huge new mining complex in the Australian state of Queensland, and laying 500km (311 miles) of railway line to move the coal to the coast.
        Coal is used to generate about 80% of China's power supplies
        Under the deal, the firm will build a new mining complex to give China Power International Development (CPI) 30m tonnes of coal a year for 20 years.

        "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

        by indycam on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 07:41:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Was there a point beyond the cherry-picking? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citisven, translatorpro, raoul78, jam

        Your assessment of burning coal that has travelled thousands of miles as "bankrupt thinking" is (as on par for you at this site) highly selective, ignoring any countries with such practices that you might not like to criticize.

        Here is an echo of what you wrote, just changing a few country names as indicated in italics.

        France imports coal from South Africa, for crying out loud. They import coal from half way around the world. (See the ships ready to transport coal to France.)

        If that isn't an indication of how bankrupt French thinking is on energy, then I don't know what is. It would be one thing if they were using domestic coal supplies, but they get their coal from Australia, Colombia, and from half way around the world in South Africa.

        That edit did not change the validity of the quote in any way. You see, France imports about 60% as much coal per capita as Germany does - and you'll find the average lump of imported coal burned in France gets to gloat that it has traveled many miles further than a similar worldtrotting lump burned in Germany, with France importing from the likes of Colombia and Australia and the United States in addition to South Africa.

        A quick glance at the BP statistical review of world energy shows that, normalised to tonnes of oil equivalent, the annual fossil fuel consumption per person is around 2.2 tonnes in France, 3 in Germany, and 6 in the USA. The France-Germany gap gets smaller if one uses an emission accounting model where the environmental cost of manufactured goods are allocated to the country where they are purchased and used, because Germany is a very large industrial producer and exporter of products with high embodied energy costs.

        For example, consider motor vehicles. Often with emission comparisons, the oil cars burn is accounted for within each country but their substantial embodied energy cost of manufacturing is left allocated to the country where they were made. Germany manufactures nearly three times as many motor vehicles as France and exports much of its vehicle production, while France is barely a net car exporter at all because its annual new car registrations are roughly equal to domestic production.

        •  You put your point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          across very well, much better than I could have in regard to this perfect example of "pot meeting kettle". Some people just cannot stand the idea that the US is not No. 1 in everything, and is losing ground in many areas it used to be a leader in. And I say that with sadness, as I'm very fond of my native country.

          A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

          by translatorpro on Thu Apr 14, 2011 at 02:47:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why Anti-nuclear Belongs in all of Our Movements (6+ / 0-)

    Why Anti-Nuclear Belongs in All of Our Movements


    Betsy Hartmann is the Director of the Population and Development Program and Professor of Development Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. A longstanding activist in the international women’s health movement, she writes and speaks on the intersection of reproductive rights, environmental and climate justice, and peace

    It's a good article. I check in tomorrow, time for bed right now.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 10:23:22 PM PDT

  •  Nuclear power stations should be located (7+ / 0-)

    far from population centers.  




    93 million miles is about right.  

    Renewable energy brings national security.      -6.25, -6.05

    by Calamity Jean on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 11:20:30 PM PDT

  •  Ritter Sport!!!!!! (7+ / 0-)

    My wife is from Hamburg and we have to limit how much Ritter we purchase.  We're now down to 1 bar each for each shopping trip (usually every 10 days or so).  Breaks down as, milk choc & butter cookie (for me and my eldest daughter), milk choc hazelnut for my wife and milk choc for my youngest.  Sometimes a marzipan or dark choc with hazelnut finds its way into the basket.

    Thank you for the diary.  It's really good to see these types of projects actually exist.  I've always believed that decentralized power, especially for residential uses, would be very effective if done in large numbers.  Imagine building codes being changed so that every new home had co-generation in the form of solar, wind and geo-thermal and every existing home received a grant or tax-credit to install.  Pump all the excess back into the grid and bingo, massive renewable energy.

    Of course, that's oversimplifying it, but Ursula has shown us a road map to start with.  The only real problem is America itself. With the onslaught from the GOP to privatize everything, it's going to be even more difficult than ever.  

    Also, the Green movement in Europe has been growing for sometime.  Conservation is key.  I once had a woman knock on our rental car's window while stopped at railroad crossing in Switzerland.  She reminded me, very pleasantly I might add, that I should turn my engine off until the gates were raised.  

    We're so far from that here.  I actually had someone I thought I knew very well tell me it was his right to buy energy from anyone he wanted to and that they had the right to burn coal or natural gas or use nuclear plants.  Then he revealed to me his newfound bagger self and said, "you're just trying to take away my freedoms!".


    Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

    by Back In Blue on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 12:06:45 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for sharing (2+ / 0-)

      Those Ritter Sports are irresistible, and they're available at every corner store in SF these days, which is great and also dangerous.

      Conservation is key, absolutely. I don't think that Europeans and Germans are innately more prone to conservation, but the hardships of WWII are still close enough in our memory that it doesn't strike us as a completely unfamiliar concept. I vividly remember my grandfather collecting and reusing every string and every piece of paper he found, and while my generation is certainly not as stringent with saving everything it still feels just wrong to waste stuff and throw things away.

      As far as energy, I grew up being yelled at for leaving the door open, and it wasn't because of my unknowing assault on the environment but because energy is so expensive. When I first came to the U.S. I was amazed at how casually people were wasting energy, and even though there's a little more awareness I still cringe when I see outdoor heaters or people letting their cars idle in the morning just so it's warm when they get in.

      So in a way it's an advantage to have had some serious shortages in the past, because it helps people to remember how precious energy really is, and they don't act like they're living in a cornucopia. At this point it's all about finding incentives for Americans to conserve voluntarily, but we may not have that luxury for too much longer. We'll see. I do think it can be done, because Americans are also generally more open to change and innovation, and I still have the hope that there will be more breakthroughs that are based on voluntary simplicity rather than inevitable scarcity.

      •  Heh. Spoken like an authentic (2+ / 0-)

        "Schwabe" - "Schaffen, schaffen..."  I remember my German grandparents (who were not Swabian)  using newspaper (I hope it was "Blöd Zeitung"!) as toilet paper (ouch) in the early 50s because there was nothing else available, and being told how my father brought luxuries like coffee and cigarettes from the Army base to his future wife and in-laws in the post-war years. So yes, deprivation is not easy to forget (whether or not it was righteous punishment is NOT the issue here and I will not go there), and I really feel for all the Americans suffering today as a result of the horrible unemployment situation.

        I also am often struck by the waste of energy I see when I visit the US, and completely agree with the sentiments expressed in your last paragraph above.


        A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

        by translatorpro on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 10:20:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Regina in a Sears Kit House

          to finish your line. ;-)

          I always rebelled against that Swabian small and safe thinking when I grew up, but I'm learning to appreciate it a bit more these days. However, I think that the idea of abundance doesn't always have to equal waste, especially with easily biodegradable things. Sometimes the things we might gain materially are outweighed by the accompanying loss of heartfelt joy and generosity. These less measurable aspects of our humanity are often important in trying to inspire bigger changes in behavior. That said, to me it's a great joy to reuse stuff, I feel more drawn to objects that have a story and a few scratches than the brand spanking new plastic crap that seems to be overflowing everywhere.

      •  It was my (East)German friend who taught me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        translatorpro, citisven

        to really conserve. She measured the water exactly before boiling the kettle and when she left the apartment she turned everything off and the heat way down. We were both single parents with little money and I appreciated the frugal habits she passed on to me.

        This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

        by Agathena on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 12:32:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We know Ritter Sport and Stuttgart (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, translatorpro

    as well. It's one of the best places we have ever lived! Good people, good food, good quality of life.

    Thanks for sharing this. I feel more 'empowered.'

  •  Wouldn't a more sensible approach (0+ / 0-)

    be  to show the rest of the world how to do it correctly?

  •  Good for her (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raoul78, citisven, translatorpro

    As clean and wonderful as it is, nuclear is only sorta renewable. I'm all for people developing fully renewable solutions for their communities. Is that going to be something we can replicate for giant cities? I sincerely doubt it. But it's still a good step.

    Proud supporter of nuclear power!

    by zegota on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 06:38:26 AM PDT

    •  I was going to post a similar comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I am truly impressed that she was able to do this - I love to see small, independent, collective operations show that they are just as viable as large corporations.

      Also I appreciate people who stand up economically for their principles; put your money where your mouth is:)

      There are two things though that I wanted to point out.  First, their energy portfolio is interesting.  They have the largest percentage of solar electricity anywhere in Germany (and I'm not clear if this applies to the town itself, or the portfolio of the electricity company), and that amounts to approximately 3%.  Secondly, they also have the highest concentration of co-generation units, approximately 5%.  Its not, therefore, entirely renewable, but co-generators are certainly a better way to burn fossil fuels.

      Secondly, after reading the diary, it sounded to me as if the town was producing all of its own electricity, but I read this in the blurb from the New York TimesNew York Times

      Today it fills about 30 percent of the town’s needs from its own renewable sources, she said, and buys renewable electricity from other German utilities to make up the remaining 70 percent.

      In 20 years they've managed to provide 30% of their electricity from renewable, on-site generated sources, which is a pretty tall achievement.   The question is whether or not this can be replicated in NYC, and I think the answer is no.

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