“the White House has invested heavily in sustaining the country’s nuclear infrastructure, and President Joe Biden has also touted nuclear as an important component in the country’s quest for carbon neutrality. Many countries are following the same path based on similar climate calculations, and some experts support this position. “Nuclear is actually one of the cleanest and safest energy sources,” Kharecha says. For countries that want to mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution, he says that nuclear energy should be embraced — at least until better options come along.
But environmental advocacy groups and left-leaning American voters have traditionally opposed nuclear power. And, despite the president’s efforts, recent Gallup data suggest this is still the case: Less than half of Democrats back nuclear, compared to 62 percent of Republicans.”
“The Chernobyl meltdown captivated and horrified many Americans. But while the US shuddered, Germans suffered directly from the disaster’s fallout. It wasn’t just a question of tainted milk. Radioactive particles drifted across much of the German landscape. Sandboxes were nicknamed “death boxes.” Contamination turned up in meat, vegetables, fruits, and foodstuffs produced all over the country, and frightened parents didn’t know what to feed their children. Some experts estimated that hundreds of thousands of people on the continent would eventually develop Chernobyl-related cancers. That didn’t come to pass, but recent government analyses of German wild mushrooms found that 95 percent of samples still contained radioactive contamination from Chernobyl, and the residue of that disaster has likewise soaked deep into the nation’s views on nuclear power.”
“There are some unimpeachable justifications for opposing nuclear energy. There’s the risk of a catastrophic accident, first and foremost, and also the problem of storing or disposing of nuclear waste.
“From our point of view, it’s not right to say nuclear is a sustainable technology,” says Kopf, the Greens politician. “You need uranium, which is not extracted in an environmentally friendly way, and there is no real solution for nuclear waste.”
However, when making energy trade-offs, these risks must be balanced against the harms associated with the use of non-nuclear energy sources — such as air pollution and CO2 emissions produced by fossil fuels. According to estimates from Our World in Data, nuclear is cleaner and safer than any power source apart from solar. The number of deaths caused by either accidents or air pollution as a result of nuclear power is estimated to be just 0.03 deaths per terawatt-hour of energy produced. That is far, far below the 18 deaths and 25 deaths per terawatt-hour associated with oil and coal sources, respectively.”
“The West isn’t really saying “never” on fighter jets for Ukraine — it just wants to focus first on getting Kyiv weapons for a looming offensive.
That’s the sentiment emerging in the wake of U.S. President Joe Biden’s blunt “no” — echoed to various degrees by leaders in Germany and the U.K. — to the question of whether he would be sending Ukraine the fighter jets it is requesting. While officials have publicly remained relatively unequivocal that no jets are forthcoming, private discussions indicate it may actually just be a matter of time.”
“The plot originated out of a movement called the Reichsbürger — literally, “Reich citizens.” They believe that every German state since World War I has been illegitimate, a corporation rather than an authentic government, and thus feel entitled to ignore its laws. It’s not the first time the group has been implicated in a violent incident. In 2016, one alleged member killed a Bavarian policeman; in 2020, Reichsbürger adherents participated in an attempt to storm the German capitol during a protest against Covid restrictions. But a sizable armed cell plotting a coup takes the dalliance with violence to a whole new level (even though Heinrich isn’t much of a prince).”
“What [the Reichsbürger] are saying is the last valid German state was under the Kaiser, basically an aristocratic form of government. Every German state that came into existence after that is invalid for different reasons, but they’re all invalid. They’re all illegitimate. Basically, what they are trying to recreate, what they are trying to go back to, is essentially a monarchical system — the monarchy [that] ended in Germany with the defeat in World War I.
As a consequence, they do sometimes attract these failed aristocrats who are still aggrieved about the end of the monarchy over 100 years ago. I think it makes sense, from their ideological point of view, to say, “The new head of state has to be some kind of prince, has to be some sort of person with an aristocratic line.””
“The German security agencies only really got interested in this phenomenon of the Reichsbürger, or sovereign citizens, in 2016 — [when] a policeman was killed in Bavaria because they wanted to search the property of a supporter of the movement. Suddenly, people started asking questions: Why was that policeman killed? Why did the guy have a weapon? What was that search about?
As a result of that, for the first time we discovered that there was such a thing as the sovereign citizen movement [in Germany]. Security agencies started digging, and at the beginning of 2016, they said, “They have a few hundred supporters.” Only two or three years later, they actually came to the conclusion that they were probably up to 20,000 supporters across the country.
That’s not because, in those three years, the number increased so much. It’s because no one had looked for them and categorized them as a separate category before. It became obvious that there was a whole movement that had existed beyond that, that hadn’t been looked at before.
Then [the pandemic] came. The lockdowns and the rules around masks and vaccinations were, of course, a complete boon for the movement.”
“the second most used language in QAnon chat rooms on Telegram is German. The second most translated language of QAnon videos and documents is German. I myself follow a lot of German QAnon Telegram channels; a lot of people seem to be very fascinated by it.
I don’t know of any personal, physical connections between leaders of the movements, but there certainly seems to be a lot of inspiration. Once they understand and accept that a lot of this comes out of an American context, they are trying to find ways to translate it into a German context.
In August 2020, there was an attempt to storm the Reichstag, the German parliament. It was in the context of a demonstration — 100,000 people in the streets of Berlin. Some of these Reichsbürger were actually trying to enter the building, just like the Capitol [on January 6]. They basically afterward said that they’d been convinced that Donald Trump was in town, that he’d secretly flown to Berlin in order to liberate Germany. This was one of those rumors that was spread on QAnon follower Telegrams.”
” We have a very fixed idea of what a far-right extremist looks like, because of our history. A far-right extremist is a neo-Nazi; anything that doesn’t fit into that box of neo-Nazi or fascist, we have problems with, and we don’t recognize. Up until they [the Reichsbürger] killed that policeman in Bavaria, most intelligence agencies basically had them under the category of nutcases, crazies. But they had their own far-right, albeit separate, ideology — a very strange ideology.”
“Germany is one of the few places in the world where meat consumption is decreasing — and fast.
In 2011, Germans ate 138 pounds of meat each year. Today, it’s 121 pounds — a 12.3 percent decline. And much of that decline took place in the last few years, a time period when grocery sales of plant-based food nearly doubled.
The trend runs counter to virtually everywhere else on the planet, where meat consumption is quickly rising — from citizens of low-income countries adding more meat to their diet as incomes increase, to rich countries where meat consumption has more or less plateaued at a high level or continues to slowly increase. (Sweden, like Germany, is a notable exception.)”
“Meat and dairy production account for around 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and most countries’ per capita meat consumption far exceeds the 57 pounds per year recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission, a panel of climate and nutrition experts.”
“One poll found that, from 2016 to 2020, the number of vegans in Germany doubled, hitting 2.6 million people or 3.2 percent of the population. A big jump, to be sure, but not enough to explain the sharp decline in the country’s meat consumption.
Rather, says Jens Tuider of ProVeg International, a Berlin-based organization that advocates for reducing meat consumption, “it’s the flexitarians that drive this development.”
Experts say the rise in flexitarians — those who reduce but don’t eliminate their meat consumption — could be due to a number of scandals in recent decades that have put the German meat sector under closer scrutiny. Exposés of forced labor in slaughter plants, reports of rotten meat sold across the country, bird and swine flu outbreaks, and animal cruelty investigations may have affected attitudes toward meat.
But those same problems are playing out elsewhere with far less effect on diet, including in the US, where Americans eat 225 pounds of red meat and poultry (fish excluded) per capita per year, almost twice the amount as Germans.
What seems to set Germany apart is its young people, who are deeply worried about climate change and see reforming the food system as one way to pump the brakes on their country’s greenhouse gas emissions. “Especially among the young people, you can see a cultural change, because they are much more aware of … what they eat, how they consume,” says Inka Dewitz of Heinrich Böll Stiftung, a foundation in Germany that is affiliated with the German Green Party.”
“Somehow, Germany, a country where the government is firmly committed to “green” energy, is preparing to fire up coal-burning power plants. The move is even more remarkable given that officials stubbornly refuse to restart mothballed nuclear facilities, or even reconsider the timeline for retiring those that remain online. It’s an astonishing situation for a country that very recently boasted that it would soon satisfy all its energy needs with sunshine and cool summer breezes.”
“Germany’s problems predate the war in Ukraine and are closely linked to the goals the country’s political class made about their energy future in the absence of a realistic plan for getting there. In 2011, after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the German government recommitted itself to closing all of its nuclear plants and getting its electricity from solar and wind. The decision was motivated by public fears of nuclear power, but also by loud insistence that the energy source had no place in a sustainable future.”
“But “nuclear power is very close to the same shade of green as that of most renewables” when you compare mining and manufacturing inputs to each approach, energy expert Gail H. Marcus wrote for Physics World in 2017. And nuclear is reliable—the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow, which means electricity produced by those sources ebbs and flows. That’s a big problem for electrical grids that require steady supplies of energy.
“Large amounts of intermittent electricity create huge swings in supply which the grid has to be able to cope with,” Bloomberg reported in January 2021.”
“Germany’s plight is disturbing testimony of where you can end up if you commit yourself to a vision of a “green” future that has no place in it for the most reliable source of clean-ish electricity. By contrast, neighboring France plans to build as many as 14 new nuclear reactors because of, not despite, its environmental goals. That attitude reflects energy analyst Marcus’s assessment and is shared by the inter-governmental International Energy Agency (IEA). “Long-term operation of the existing nuclear fleet and a near-doubling of the annual rate of capacity additions are required” to meet clean-energy goals by 2050, the organization specifies.
Visons of a cleaner future based on technologies that are more efficient and less polluting are praiseworthy and shared by just about everybody. But to get from here to there requires planning and realistic decisions. Unfortunately for the German people, most of their political leaders relied on strongly held wishes and pixie dust to bring a green utopia and are instead delivering literal lumps of coal.”
“An immediate, full-blown ban imposed by the EU on oil is still a no-go for economic powerhouse Germany. Berlin has indicated to other EU capitals it’s ready to consider cutting Russian oil — even if it is not yet able to abandon imports of gas — but only under specific conditions, which are now being discussed with the European Commission.”