Kategorie-Archiv: ENGLISH ARTICLES

„Inside Fukushima“

By Monika Griefahn (Photo: Andreas Conradt)

It’s very important that we all remind ourselves of the following: on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima power plant in Japan the literature festival “Reading without Nuclear Power” took up a topic that’s all but forgotten – the plight of “disposable workers” at nuclear power plants. The discussion panel in Hamburg, which I chaired, featured a number of high-profile participants: the Japanese journalist Tomohiko Suzuki presented his book “Inside Fukushima”, which had been published in German only a few days earlier. For his research he worked covertly in the damaged power plant so it was an obvious choice to also invite the German investigative journalist and author Günter Wallraff onto the podium. In the 1980s he also went undercover to expose the recruitment structures for power plants within the nuclear industry. The actress Anna Thalbach read from “Inside Fukushima” to stunning effect while Sebastian Pflugbeil, an expert on the nuclear lobby and the President of the German Society for Radiation Protection (GSS) revealed a wealth of detailed information from national and international regulation authorities. If the topic wasn’t so depressing and the experiences of the undercover researchers so terrible – and terribly similar – the 500 members of the audience, as well as myself, could have returned home with a spring in our steps.

However, what we heard was truly sobering: Suzuki described his colleagues from his time undercover as ordinary people who need money. Recruitment, he said, was the responsibility of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, whose members were recognised people well-grounded in society.

Günter Wallraff recounted similar findings from 1980s Germany. He said those responsible for the recruitment of staff for especially dangerous tasks in nuclear power stations had been well-connected “human traffickers” who were acknowledged by local political actors. He added that even homeless persons had been recruited because the maximum radiation dose for workers at the time was reached very quickly and therefore many people were needed. It’s not for nothing that critics call these people “disposable workers”.

Indeed, nuclear expert and critic Sebastian Pflugbeil supports these claims on the basis of publicly available data. According to a 2011 answer by the federal government in response to a parliamentary query by the Left party in 2009 roughly 6,000 regular employees worked and were being monitored for radiation exposure in 17 nuclear power plants across Germany. In contrast, more than 24,000 subcontract staff also worked there and were being monitored. “Specialists on permanent contracts are too expensive to be exposed to high dosages of radiation because it makes them unusable too quickly”, Pflugbeil summarized matter-of-factly.

He rates as strange the way Japan treats nuclear power. In spite of the experiences the country made at the end of the Second World War, when nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese liked to repress the topic, he said. He added that institutions of higher education were afraid to deal with the issue and that projects that made the danger more visible were redacted.

Suzuki confirmed this. He said the aftermath of the Fukushima tsunami had not been as dramatic as had initially been feared, which had led many to believe that the accident didn’t compromise everyday life and that the nuclear energy issue could somehow be brought under control. Nevertheless, Suzuki is convinced that one day there will be no more nuclear power plants on the planet. Maybe his book will play a small part in reaching this goal.

Information about the book

Festival „Reading without Nuclear Power“

Nothing is lost! Cradle to Cradle pioneers from the garment sector debate

By Cradle to Cradle e.V. – slightly amended, slightly shortened and with many thanks!

After having served its intended purpose for several years a well-loved denim jacket is laid to rest as compost, thereby remaining in the natural cycle in the form of nutrients. The metallic buttons meanwhile are repurposed as a new raw material in the technical cycle – nothing is lost!

This is what the future of our clothes could look like under the Cradle to Cradle concept. Successes that the concept can already take credit for in the garment sector, innovative ideas that only wait for their realisation and stumbling blocks that still remain – those were the topics at the expert forum #2 „textiles – cycles – procurement – supply chains“ at the Sarah Wiener Restaurant in Berlin. It was one of a series of industry-specific events that aim to bring together practitioners from society, business as well as politics.

Experts from fields including the garment industry, fashion design, politics, consulting and research debated topics such as healthy textiles, material cycles and transparent supply chains. The challenges surrounding homogenous separation of natural and artificial materials as well as their return to the natural and the technical cycles were on the agenda, as was the basic application of healthy materials. Opening the meeting, Monika Griefahn stressed the significance of the garment sector as it is a daily part of everyone’s lives. Cradle to Cradle, she said, stood for health, quality and especially for cycles.

Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, said the textile industry was one of the industries with the highest turnovers and outlined the German government’s political objectives: by the year 2020 half of all textiles procured for the public sector must adhere to sustainability standards. She emphasised the public sector’s special function as a role model in this regard.

Designer Friederike von Wedel-Parlow described the poignant experiences she made at the Paris Fashion Week, which inspired her to come up with new concepts for create clothes. Once she came upon the Cradle to Cradle idea, she began realising it in creative ways with her master students in her role as professor for a course in „Sustainable Design Strategies“ at the ESMOD Berlin International Academy of Fashion. In the autumn of 2016 she founded the „Beneficial Design Institute“ where together with different companies she’s been working to achieve market maturity for different Cradle to Cradle products. She said it was the responsibility of future consumers to learn how to pass the garments on to the appropriate recipients.

Albin Kälin, founder and director of EPEA Switzerland GmbH, brought several practical examples from his work for different companies from the garment industry. For instance he used a bra to demonstrate the necessity of rethinking textiles because, he said, „with its different components a bra is a cocktail of chemicals.“ He added that it was a challenge to find healthy alternatives to the materials used previously and to feed them back into their respective cycles homogenously. He said the Wolford products for 2018 that had recently been unveiled in Paris were a step in the right direction.

Volker Steidel, executive partner at Lauffenmühle, a manufacturer of yarns and fabrics, used the story of his product infinito to show how much creative effort can go into developing materials that represent real solutions. Already Infinito, a polymer fibre that is biologically recyclable, could be used to make great products that would adhere to Cradle to Cradle standards. Steidel also stressed the importance of transparency „from the fibre to the final product“. He said the work clothes used in his own company were produced under Cradle to Cradle criteria and were especially suitable for being recycled.

After the debate the guests engaged in another important activity – enjoy dinner and continue the discussion in direct conversation. Company representatives met individual attendees including staff from the Federal Ministry for Development and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, designers, representatives of several different C2C enterprises as well as decision-makers from various institutions and companies.

A third expert forum is already being planned, which, on a forthcoming date in the summer, will likely focus on the topic of packaging.

Sustainability and property: energy efficiency – and then?

By Petra Reinken

Slowly but surely those in the German real estate industry – and possibly some day also those responsible for federal subsidy policy – seem to realise that, while not requiring a lot of energy, a well-insulated building still comes with its own difficulties: bad room air, elaborate ventilation solutions in order to avoid mildew and other related issues. At the ECE sustainability congress in Hamburg this was reflected in the central questions of the day: What will buildings as well as entire districts look like in the future and how will city planning be approached? During the day’s ultimate panel discussion Professor Kunibert Lennerts of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) captured the entire issue in a nutshell: he said he hoped that the house of the future would be so designed that its residents can simply open a window if they so desire. With surprising clarity most participants of the panel identified federal subsidy policies as the biggest stumbling block for the sensible and sustainable redevelopment of property.

The panel largely agreed that especially with regard to existing real estate not all buildings could be lumped together. At the same time individual solutions are difficult to realise because of the high degree of regulation in the building sector. Another problem is that federal subsidies are almost entirely spent on new construction although the greatest potential lies in the renovation of existing buildings. According to the panel the 2016 tightening of the German energy saving regulation (EnEV), which is aimed at new construction, achieves almost no CO2 savings while increasing the cost of new construction by eight per cent.

At least the German Property Federation (ZIA), the lobbying organisation for the German real estate sector, is already much further advanced. It argues that districts must be considered in their entirety. According to the ZIA it must be possible to find the most suitable kind of energy supply for each individual location, energy advice to tenants must be included and craftspeople must be trained for complex technical heating solutions. To my own delight, and entirely in agreement with the Cradle to Cradle concept, their ideas for district planning even include planting concepts and social spaces.

Bernd Schwarzfeld of BZE-Ökoplan contributed the most radical ideas: He called for a complete ban on newly installed heating systems for inner city renovation and conversion projects. Instead, he argued, creative solutions to cover their heating requirements must be found by looking for excess energy in the surrounding area. Whether such a concept would be feasible in every case may be questionable. However, it certainly is a goal that could initiate technical innovation beyond the existing mainstream concepts.

On the whole however, the panels and presentations yielded rather few contributions that strayed too far from the gospel of efficiency policy. Unfortunately part of the reason for this – and this could be heard time and again – is that topics like healthy room air, building materials or social aspects are seldom addressed by residential and commercial tenants or customers. However, investors and landlords should beware of passing the blame. If – as became clear during a number of conversations – a considerable portion of participants travel to a sustainability congress by plane from cities that offer perfectly good rail links, a lot remains to be done on one’s own doorstep.

War without rules: Syria’s White Helmets between recognition and bitter reality

By Monika Griefahn

As a way of sending out a message against the war in Syria the Right Livelihood Award Foundation this year gave one of its four Right Livelihood Awards – also often referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prizes – to the Syrian White Helmets. What courageous people! In this war, which has been raging for several years and in which all rules seem to have been thrown overboard, the White Helmets rescue those who have been injured or buried alive from destroyed buildings and from the debris of their lives. Watching footage of their work gives me goose bumps. And then, only one day after the awards were announced, a large portion of their equipment was destroyed in the relentless bombing in Aleppo. I am helpless with rage.

The White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defence, are a group of around 3,000 volunteers who have been risking their lives since 2013 in order to save others. They’ve been able to save tens of thousands of people from the rubble of war, regardless of their religion or their political views. They also attempt to reconstruct damaged infrastructure and to educate people about safety measures so that they learn how to better protect themselves. The war turned tailors, teachers and merchants alike into fire fighters and emergency relief workers. Many of them have been killed in the most recent fighting. We mourn for them all!

It is good to know that even in times of such dramatic circumstances as we currently witness them in Syria humanity can persevere. It’s good that the barbarism of others won’t rub off on those who believe in the good. I hope that being honoured with an Alternative Nobel Prize will help the White Helmets in Syria to not lose their courage.

Ahmad al-Youssef is a member of the Syrian Civil Defence. He travelled to Stockholm for the awards ceremony and, at the end of November, also spoke before the newly founded parliamentary group „Alternative Nobel Prize“ in the German Bundestag. Afterwards, the MP Michael Brand read al-Youssef’s speech before the parliament. Many thanks for that.

Ahmad al-Youssef’s speech:

„My name is Ahmad al-Youssef. I am from Syria and I am here to represent the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, the only organisation dedicated to rescuing civilians who are victims of the daily bombings in Syria. We have approximately 3,000 volunteers spread across 120 bases who have decided to put their lives on the line in order to save human lives in one of the most dangerous places on earth where the morals of the world have disappeared in the face of barbarism and the organised crime that is being perpetrated against not only the Syrian people but against all of mankind. To be completely frank, I am at a complete loss – I am standing helplessly before you as well as before my relatives in Syria – and especially before those in the eastern region of Ghuta near Damascus as well as in Aleppo. Aleppo, where the world is watching today how people are being slaughtered, and where the world is watching how entire cities are being destroyed.

To be honest I hesitated before agreeing to come here. I remember my comrades, my 150 comrades of the Civil Defence, who, when performing their work attempting to save human lives, were killed themselves. I have spoken to many of them and I have left them behind. They are looking death in the eye and I don’t know what message I should take back to them.

We appreciate greatly the fact that you have decided to bestow this award upon us. We are thankful for all awards because they are messages of solidarity that give us hope. We are also thankful for the ambulances and fire engines that you send us and that help us rescue civilians before they’re bombed by Syrian and Russian planes. At the same time I feel embarrassed to accept these awards while our relatives in Syria are being killed on a daily basis.

At this very moment while I am speaking to you civilians in eastern Aleppo are being made homeless. They escape from catastrophe. They walk through rubble looking for shelter. Meanwhile the injured are bleeding to death in the face of the doctors‘ inability to offer them medications or treatment after Syrian and Russian planes have destroyed all hospitals and clinics. Image for once how dramatic this situation is. What’s happening in Syria is an indescribable and unbelievable horror, and the incapability of the world to initiate steps in order to end all this is just as unbelievable! What will come of all this, the tragedies, the pain and the hatred is also unbelievable.

We carry the message of life to our people and into the world. Where are our partners? Who is prepared to aid us in Syria in the face of death and to accompany us on the path of life? Stand by us, ladies and gentlemen! Stand by us! Stand by humanity!“


Speech of Michael Brand in the German parliament.

More about the Syrian White Helmets.

To those under 40: Fight for your future!

Von Monika Griefahn

For the second time within the space of only a few weeks the young generation has given away a victory to those they would normally reject. First, many neglected to go to the polls when the people of Britain voted in the Brexit referendum over whether the country should remain a member of the European Union and then couldn’t believe their eyes when the result came out. Later, in the United States presidential elections, young voters could have brought about a different result – had they voted. Among the millennials – those who are between the ages of 21 and 42 – a majority voted for Hillary Clinton. However, only half of young people turned out to cast their vote. The electoral map would look completely different if only the young had voted (Source: Survey Monkey).


It’s the second time that the „winner takes all“ electoral system in the US has given the victory to the Republican Party. In the 2000 presidential election the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, received a larger share of the popular vote than his Republican opponent, George W. Bush. However, he had less electoral votes than Bush and therefore lost an election that he should have won.

What does that tell us?

If people turn away from democracy and from the political institutions – or are simply too phlegmatic – we have to shout at them: fight for democracy! Fight for freedom, for freedom and a plurality of opinion, fight for future issues and don’t let those win who want to take us back to the 1950s! Because instead of freedom and democracy what we will have now are particularism, nationalism, more power for the arms lobby, more electricity from coal and an exit from the climate negotiations. Is that really in the interest of young people? Going out and demonstrating against climate change but not bothering to go out and vote won’t work. For decisions are made at the political level – it’s what the political institutions are there for.

It doesn’t make sense to attack those politicians who are making an effort, to weigh every word and to target shit storms at those who want to act. Instead, it’s important to get involved, to act and to try and solve things for one’s own future. It’s about not being opposed to everything but instead to be for certain things. That applies to every situation in life: work, school, institutions and also politics! And we need to show respect to those who get involved. Most of them do it because they want to change the world for the better and because they have goals for this planet.

When I see that the republicans are in the majority in the US House of Representatives as well as in the Senate, that Viktor Orban can govern unchecked, that Erdogan can advance his antidemocratic policies without any scruples, that the next French president may be Marine Le Pen or the next Dutch prime minister may be Geert Wilders I feel physically sick. Who is it that helps those people gain power? Yes, it is those who don’t get involved and only complain instead of actually doing something. It’s those who are phlegmatic and apolitical and those who cast their votes as a supposed form of protest without thinking.

So, dear readers: be interested. Be informed. Be involved. Take part in democratic processes. And think of your future. Accept the tedium of politics. Especially we Europeans have fought long and hard for democracy. We have been trying for centuries to improve the achievements enlightenment has given us. That is in great danger at the moment. Let’s not accept it.

About the US elections:
Find more information about the voting behaviour of the young generation here.
Find more information about non-voters here.
Find the graphic depiction of the election results of young voters here.

Obscure yet important: the United Nations’ civil and social treaties

By Monika Griefahn


Two important United Nations covenants turn 50 years old this year: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Both treaties are of great significance for civil society organisations around the world, including trade unions, disabled federations and human rights groups. Unfortunately neither covenants is very well known.

The way in which the two treaties work in spite of the lack of public perception was at the centre of a recent conference held by the German Institute for Human Rights at the foreign ministry in Berlin. Among others, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Jordanian Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein, attended the event in order to call for the necessary implementation of human rights.

Apart from the rights of women and children he also insisted that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people – who still face legal prosecution in many countries – must be strengthened. It also still isn’t self-evident in all societies for people with disabilities to have the same rights as others.

In his speech, the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, highlighted the situation of refugees around the world and emphasised the human right to asylum, which, as we can currently see very clearly, is being interpreted in very different ways in various countries.

So what exactly are the two UN covenants about?

The ICCPR is a treaty that governs civil and political right while the ICESCR concerns itself with economic, social and cultural rights. Both treaties were discussed by the international community for almost two decades before finally being passed by the UN General Assembly in 1966. One of the issues regulated in the „civil pact“ is the prohibition of torture and the right to life. The „social pact“ meanwhile postulates the right to social security and the right to work to name just two topics. All signatory countries have committed to contribute to the implementation of these as well as all other rights formulated in the treaties on their respective national levels. However, the contracts are not legally binding.

When they were signed in 1966 the two documents were treaties of a fundamental nature. Their relative obscurity today may partly be explained by the fact that numerous other, more monothematic human rights treaties have been signed in the years since, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 and the UN Convention against Torture in 1984. 50 years on, 168 countries are signatories to the civil covenant and 164 countries have signed the social covenant. However, among the significant non-signatory countries are the United States and China. In Germany, the constitution is seen as the legal framework that largely implements the treaties’ provisions. In other places around the world there are big deficits in terms of the implementation, especially in war-torn regions and in countries with a weak statehood.

But even if that is the case: the question remains what the world would look like without these objectives – and without the constant international discussion about human rights upon which they are based. The answer, I fear, is: much worse. That’s why I applaud the fact that the international community was able to agree on the treaties such a long time ago. They constitute a solid foundation on which to base the fight for all elements of the covenants to fully come into effect.

Towards a world without trash – the Cradle to Cradle congress 2016

Press release / Monika Griefahn


Viable solutions for a true recycling economy – that’s what we hope to have been able to demonstrate during the third Cradle to Cradle congress in the northern German city of Lüneburg. The following is the official press release from C2C e.V.:

On the weekend of September 23/24 the third edition of the world’s biggest congress focusing on the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principle took place at Leuphana University in Lüneburg. On both days over 700 participants debated a world in which rubbish can be utilized as a nutrient. The congress was organized with the support of 100 voluntary helpers from the non-profit organization Cradle to Cradle e.V.

The C2C idea refers to a real and sustainable recycling economy in which raw materials circulate in biological and technical loops. At a time when resources are becoming increasingly rare C2C offers an innovation oriented approach: products are completely redeveloped and designed in a way that they’re made only from materials that can be fed back into a loop – for example biodegradable t-shirts, edible food packaging or healthy single-origin plastics and metals. During the congress 32 actors from different backgrounds came together for discussions, demonstrating that the idea is not merely a utopian dream. Fittingly, the daily host, energy expert Dr. Franz Alt, reminded his audience that “the sun won’t send us an energy bill”. In fact, one of the basic requirements for viable recycling loops is renewable energy, which is why actors Ursula Sladek from the electric utility company in Schönau and Professor Timo Leukefeld, energy ambassador of the German federal government, talked about the slow progress of Germany’s energy transition.

Chairwoman Dr Monika Griefahn sees the congress as an important opportunity for networking: “There were many encounters and networking opportunities during the business meet-up and the expert exchanges as well as at the information booths and in the networking café.” Tim Janßen, managing director of C2C e.V., also drew a positive conclusion: “The congress was brought to life by its 700 participants as well as by actors such as Sarah Wiener, Wolfgang Grupp and Professor Dr Martin Stuchtey. It demonstrated how C2C affects all aspects of society.”

A concert by German pop star Bela B. and the band Danube’s Banks constituted the concluding highlight of this year’s congress. Nora Sophie Griefahn, managing director of C2C e.V., is looking forward to next year: “We have already started planning for the fourth edition of the Cradle to Cradle congress, which will be internationalized even further in the coming year. Once again we expect countless actors and supporters who will participate in making it happen.”

The 4th Cradle to Cradle congress will take place at Leuphana University Lüneburg on October 20 and 21, 2017.

Cigarette butts are garbage, too

By Monika Griefahn


It’s amazing what you can find by the seaside simply by looking closely. During a recent garbage collection event on the beach of the river Elbe in Hamburg organized by the non-profit “AIDA – Friends of the Seas” the more peculiar finds included a pair of underpants, a wig, as well as a stun gun. More importantly though, our voluntary beach combers in Hamburg picked up precisely 3,595 cigarette butts – a lot, but not quite as many as a few days earlier, when, during a similar collection event on Markgrafenheide beach near Rostock, we came up with 3,723 butts.

I am happy that we found so many cigarette ends. For aren’t they garbage, too? Yes they are, and, generally speaking, it’s not good to leave them behind at the beach. Because usually all that remains of a cigarette after it’s been smoked is its filter, which decomposes very slowly and is full of toxins – for example, tar – which it has previously filtered out of the cigarette’s smoke. In short: cigarette ends shouldn’t be left behind in the sand – they’ll get eaten by sea birds or, worse, playing children will put them in their mouths.

The positive takeaway is that our organization was able to mobilize around 50 volunteers who helped us collect garbage. In addition to our own members, employees of AIDA Cruises, Carnival Maritime, Becker Marine Systems and Veolia as well as a number of other volunteers were sensitized to our issue: they now talk about it, actively support it and carry it further. Apart from that we actively removed trash from the environment, which otherwise would have posed a hazard to birds and other animals, and thereby ultimately to our own food chain, too.

That’s the reason our beach combers took special care to also look after the smaller bits and pieces: in addition to the cigarette butts they found glass shards, small plastic fragments including lollipop sticks and candy wrappers, Styrofoam, bottle caps and other debris. In Hamburg and Rostock they collected 7,318 cigarette butts, 935 scraps of plastic and over 850 glass shards in a total of two hours – that’s in addition to the aforementioned stun gun and other assorted curiosities. We will provide our figures to “Ocean Conservancy”, the organization behind the International Coastal Cleanup Day, which will add them to its global numbers.

“AIDA – Friends of the Ocean”, of which I am the chairwoman, has been concentrating on the battle against plastic waste in the oceans and on the beach and continues to organize events and campaigns in order to raise awareness for the issue. For instance, we educate the public about microplastics in cosmetics. Collection events are also a fixed date in our annual calendar.

We’ve been especially successful in relation to cigarette ends. In cooperation with several partners on the Baltic Sea we have developed the beach ashtray – a little container in which not only butts but also chewing gum, wrappers and other waste can be collected until the user next comes across a waste bin. During our garbage collection events we handed a set of these handy containers to local beach cafés, whom we asked to pass them on to their patrons. Because one thing became clear: by far the most trash accumulates in places where people linger and consume. Let’s hope that the number of cigarette ends on our next collection day in 2017 falls below the figure of 7,318. And let’s hope that there’ll be many volunteers willing to take part.

More information abour „AIDA Friends of the Ocean“
„AIDA Friends of the Ocean“ on Facebook

Footprint for Indoor Air Quality: Stop Laser Printers!

By Achim Stelting, nano-Control foundation


In just 20 years the prevalence of allergies has doubled. One in three people now suffers from allergic reactions. Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children and youths. Four million people are diabetes patients. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of cancer will have increased by 20 per cent in 2025. Skin cancer cases have doubled in ten years. Sickness absenteeism from work is at a 20-year-high and one in four employees will be incapacitated before reaching retirement age. Those developments have underlying causes.

As early as 1995 the American environmental authority realized that polluted indoor air is one of the biggest risk factors to the national health, especially so because we spend 80 to 90 per cent of our time inside buildings. As room air is unfiltered breathing air it should be as worthy of protection as food. The USEPA statement came after an investigation into the emissions of copying machines. Today, around one billion laser printers and copiers around the world emit billions of mainly ultra-fine particles per page – unfiltered and with fatal consequences.

At the invitation of Professor Dr Michael Braungart, chairman of the Hamburg Environmental Institute, the Hamburg-based foundation nano-Control left behind a special kind of footprint in the form of an art performance in support of healthy room air at the Footprint Days of the 2016 Venice Biennial on August 20 and 21. The biennial, which runs until November 27, 2016, is often referred to as the Olympics of architecture.
For their performance the „Nanos“ took signs from the very convincing Sick-Building exhibition (from which garden gnomes – which are known as nanos in Greek – flee) as well as from the light and airy building that’s as useful as a tree, adorned them with warning messages similar to those on cigarette packs, and


brought those messages into the fresh air.
The stroll through the world of architecture, which was accompanied by Monika Griefahn, was stopped quickly by security guards and police officers equipped with automatic pistols, but the message had already been sent: Printer Emitted Particles Can Ruin Your Health! Even the friendly policemen were interested.

In order to rescue the garden gnomes, nano-Control equipped two of them with fine particle masks upon their return to the Sick-Building.

Four days after the performance the German government warned for the first time against health risks associated with nano particles emitted by laser printers. If we’ve learned anything from nano particles it’s the fact that even the tiniest nanos can have huge consequences.

Hamburg’s new bridge technology: shore power supply at the Cruise Center Altona

By Monika Griefahn


As is often the case when it comes to technological investments, they aren’t very visible from the outside. But with the introduction of the shore power supply for cruise ships in the Altona district of Hamburg both the city’s port and its shipping industries have taken a huge step towards a clean energy supply. The AIDAsol is the first cruise liner that’s gradually being equipped to be able to connect there since the end of May.

A clear indication for the significance of this step is the fact that Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, joined Hamburg’s Mayor, Olaf Scholz, for the inauguration ceremony of the power supply on June 3rd. Both politicians emphasised their hope that this example will catch on. The shore power system is able to supply ships with electricity independently of the tides and can provide any frequency performance required by international shipping. It’s the first installation of its kind in Europe and it’s an ideal prerequisite for the investment of roughly 10 million Euros made by the City of Hamburg, the European Union and the federal government to one day yield a return.

Now it’s up to ship owners and cruise operators to equip their vessels so that they’re able to connect to the power supply – just like AIDA has already done in the case of the AIDAsol. Time and again the chicken-and-egg question is being asked. In my opinion, the infrastructure needs to come first. Once the systems are in place, one can justifiably demand of the ship owners that they do everything in their power to operate their vessels as cleanly as possible. AIDA is leading this development in the cruise segment.

As soon as testing is complete – the technicians are hoping that they can calibrate everything within just four ship calls – AIDAsol will be able to completely shut down her diesel engines when docking in the port of Hamburg as she’ll be fully supplied by the shore power system. The shore supply exclusive feeds electricity from renewable sources to the cruise ships. After all it’s the only way a system like this makes sense.


For me this shore supply system goes beyond simply providing green electricity to cruise ships. The project shows that all sensible ideas must get off the ground at some point. The energy transition is technically feasible – it’s not sorcery as Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) has recently put it. However, it does require the bravery of regulators as well as businesses to get underway. And yes, it may be entirely possible to get a bloody nose in the process. In case that happens however, it will be done better the second time. In any case, hesitation won’t get us anywhere.

In relation to my work for AIDA I am continuously meeting a host of bold people. This includes Dirk Lehmann at Becker Marine Systems who’s responsible for developing the LNG Hybrid Barge for the Hafencity Cruise Terminal as well as those managers and technicians who actively made the choice to lead, be it in the shape of supporting Hummel (as the LNG Hybrid Barge is named), through their work on the shore power supply system or indeed in terms of preparing the huge investment in the direct supply with LNG. The latter will first be realised in the port of Hamburg next year for AIDAprima and her sister vessel and then later also at the Meyer Werft shipyard, where new cruise ships will be developed from 2018/2019 that will be powered exclusively by LNG! Those decision makers within the city council and the port of Hamburg who offered this kind of energy supply have also been courageous. I would therefore like to join Olaf Scholz and Barbara Hendricks in the hope that the shore power supply will set a positive precedent and find many imitators.