Descartes-Gymnasium
Neuburg / Donau

Betreten die USA zukünftig grüne Pfade?

Der Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Matthias Fifka, den die SchülerInnen der Q11 und Q12 am 25. Januar 2013 besuchten, versuchte diese hochaktuelle Fragestellung aus historischer wie gegenwärtiger Sicht in sehr lebendiger und verständlicher Weise zu beleuchten - und dies vor dem Hintergrund der Amtseinführung Obamas.

Barak Obama

 By brookage (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“[…] We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition (…) we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. [..]” (Obama, Inauguration Address Jan. 21st 2013)

With these lines of his inaugural speech Barack Obama addressed his fellow Americans to show them the need of measures to be taken to prevent further climate change. His words might give hope to environmentalists all over the world, but also incite heated discussions. How can Obama possibly give environmental concerns first priority on his political agenda - in a country where economic growth and material prosperity have ranked and still rank higher than the protection of nature?

It was exactly this question whether America was actually greening which was dealt with in a lively presentation on January 25th 2013 that our Grade 11 and 12 students had the chance to attend. Prof. Dr. Matthias Fifka of the DAI (= Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut) in Nürnberg, who himself had lived in the U.S. for five years, explained the development of the green movement in the US, introduced various environmental groups and evaluated their wide range of goals nowadays.

Due to his own experiences in the States Fifka can now say that for some Americans being green is simply considered “chic”. – Those who do not find it important to be “chic”, however, do not see the necessity (or do not have the financial means) to drive energy efficient cars, turn the heating down, buy organic food, or install solar panels, ….

Ergo, much awareness raising still needs to be done to make around 300 million people change their wasteful and harming habits. Obama has to convince his fellow politicians - who keep ignoring the option of going green on a larger political level. Yet, during the US President’s second term of office this will be a long and extremely stony way past a rather uncooperative Congress and the influences of lobbyists. The latter ones mostly represent the interests of environmentally-unfriendly industries. Therefore, it is no surprise that Obama fully supports fracking, a method that uses chemicals to separate oil from the stones and sands underground – and thus pollutes soil and water resources and in some cases even cause landslides and earthquakes. When it comes to maintaining the States’ supremacy in the energy sector, Barack Obama obviously does not seem to bother. He, too, follows those politicians who are found on the “Top 10 Green Economy Losers” ranking list.

Finally, Fifka notes that Barack Obama, the family man, is surely the ‘greenest’ activist - yet as a politician he has to think strategically and diplomatically for his country.The greenish words in his inaugural speech do imply the United States’ good will to change their attitude towards environmentalism. However, major large-scale green improvements in the near future may still have to be waited for..

Prof. Fifka

Foto von Prof. M. Fifka freundlicherweise zur Verfügung gestellt

Thanks to Prof. M. Fifka for a very topical, well-structured and vivid talk! (by Lisa Hartmann, Q12)

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