Obama is in Germany today, meeting with the German president and chancellor. He gives a speech at the Brandenburg Gate almost 50 years after John F. Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech there. The last time Obama was in Germany, 2008, he addressed a huge, euphoric crowd. Today’s official reception is grand, but the public reception is lukewarm, reflecting concerns about drones, NSA spying and other matters.
Germans also are an important audience for OurValues.org. The column has an American focus, but the international readership of OurValues.org demonstrates that it really is a small world after all. We also have many readers from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Philippines, China, Netherlands, France, and Sweden.
Over 1,300 columns have appeared on OurValues.org. One of the most popular posts featured Germany and its role as a model of a post-nuclear world. Here is it, in edited form:
IS GERMANY A MODEL FOR A POST-NUCLEAR WORLD?
Would you be willing to sacrifice your lifestyle if it meant we could end the use of nuclear energy? Six of ten Germans are willing to do so, based on a new poll. A majority (57%) say they want Germany to close all nuclear power plants in less than five years. Is a nuclear-free Germany a model of our future?
Along with a change in lifestyle, Germany plans to shift to 50% renewable energy by 2050. That’s an ambitious goal, and even if it’s attained, where would the other half come from? Natural gas is one source, but coal is another—and coal is the real enemy, says environmentalist George Monbiot. The human and ecological costs are far greater than the risks of nuclear energy, he argues.
Germany’s neighbor—the Czech Republic—is delighted with Germany’s plans to cut nuclear, looking to profit by selling them energy from coal-fired plants. Czech companies don’t face pressure to close their nuclear plants, and politicians are in favor of increasing the use of coal as an energy source, according to business reports.
This all goes to show that the German model illustrates the limits of a nation-specific energy policy. One nation bans nuclear energy and its citizens are willing to take a hit to their lifestyle. Another nation invests in nuclear and coal-fired energy. It’s the same thing when you decide to not use pesticides on your lawn, but your neighbor asks for a double dose.
The energy dilemma we’ve discussed all week goes beyond national boundaries. It requires a multi-national policy. And, that takes a level of cooperation that we have not seen before.
What do you think of Germany’s model?
Is it a model that you could support?
Or, is it futile given that other nations will do the opposite?
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