If you start thinking about problems on this earth, you will not find an end. To not sink into them and to create solutions, we first need to know the current status of them. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing over the past two weeks. First, we asked ourselves what exactly SDG 15 is trying to achieve. The goal is protecting and restoring life on land – the ecosystems, the forests, the biodiversity – to use it sustainably in the future and stop negative influences – such as desertification and soil degradation. With this background knowledge, we gathered all the problems and threats that came directly to our mind. We were surprised at how many of them we came up with in a very short time. These problems are not called problems here, but opportunities, because they give us the opportunity to develop a good idea with CERN technology, to tackle them!
In the next step, we selected the 12 most interesting ones for us with regional relevance and examined them more closely with the help of the so-called Opportunity Cards. We have not yet defined regionality precisely😉 It was exciting to see that the deeper we delved into a topic, the further it could be broken down, resulting in even more “opportunities”.
Which opportunities did we look at more closely?
Monocultures allow more efficient farming and higher profits, but at the expense of biodiversity and ecosystems. For example, the Black Forest consists of 80 % fir and spruce. Plants are more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies, fragile to pest infestations and soil erosion.
Mannheim as one of the driest and warmest regions in Germany is concerned by the increasing warming and de decreasing of precipitation. Trees absorb less carbon dioxide if they haven’t enough water and die when their water conductivity drop below 40 %.
While the majority of insects are threatened by extinction, there is an increaded incidence of virus-transmitting pests such as aphids, which increase their biological activity with the warmth and migrate northward also to Germany. Plants have to be protected to prevent crop losses.
In Germany, 50 % of bees – the most productive pollinators – are endangered. The population is declining and thus our plant diversity and organisms are also disappearing.
The concentration of ground-level ozone has increased in recent years, even in individual large areas in Baden Württemberg, that plants are damaged and long-term growth, crop yield and quality of agricultural products are endangered.
Littering – the illegal disposal of garbage in public space – is a huge problem in bigger cities like Mannheim. For example over 200 million are needed for the disposal of cigarettes – accorting this amount must be a lot of cigarettes, which are bad for our environment and animals.
Peatlands can store much more carbon as forests, but only if they are intact and wet enough. If they aren’t, CO2 escapes. 45.000 ha dried peatlands in Baden-Wuerttemberg should be rewetted and protected to stay wet.
In Germany 27,1 % of the groundwater is in a bad condition because of a high nitrogen level which is a consequence of fertilization. About half of the spread fertilizers is not consumed by the plants, it flushes into the environment.
Energy production, traffic and industry – they are responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions, mainly the carbon-dioxide. For us in this project the local energy sector is the most interesting part to look at how to reduce the emissions.
Concrete as the most important material for construction causes about 2.8 billion of tons carbon dioxide and as well destroys the biodiversity by mining the raw materials und destruction of the landscape to build new buildings.
The annual emissions per capita is in Germany almost twice as high as the global average. One of the reason is the excessive consumption of e.g. textiles. Buying and consuming products we often don’t see our high CO2 or as well high water footprint and the effect on the nature.
The high annual per capita consumption of poultry meat, which in contrast to other kind of meat, has increased in the last years, is causing the factory farming. Confinement is one main reason that chicken get sick and need antibiotics. The high use of antibiotics leads to the point, that peaple may no longer be able to be treated with this medicine because of immunity.
Highlight of the week
Our highlight of the week was the exciting and inspiring talk by Markus Nordberg abour “Why are we here?”. The question “What do you see differently?” will stay in our minds and we will certainly ask this ourselves more often over the course of the project. Another thing which we will remember is: “The lower the risk, the lower the impact!” – we have to think more abstractly and we can’t fail: options are not lost, maybe they can be used for other possibilities.
Two team members were sick this week and had to stay at home. But thanks to digital media, we were able to exchange an communicate anyway!
“The work overload starts…” (Clara)
Our quote of this week is by Clara, when she presented us our work for this week! And yes, she was right, but luckily we are four persons and know how to share work.
What are the next steps?
In order to find out more about the regional impact of each opportunity, we are going to have our first talk with an expert in the next few days. In the next six weeks we will participate in the Exploration Festival and are excited to see what this time will bring, what ideas can be developed and of course we are looking forward to get to know the other teams.