All is well with the world, it is raining. Long. That's annoying. But it's just rain?
With these words Andy Neumann begins his report on the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley. Neumann is a police officer. When the water rose, he thought he was prepared and put his children to bed in the evening. As always.
But then the water came, pushed through the windows into the living room, climbed the stairs to the top floor. Neumann was seized by fear. Fear that his wife and children would die. The fire department advised them to climb onto the roof, but rescue was not possible from there either.
There was panic in them until the levels began to fall.
Neumann and his family survived.
But 180 people died.
Scientists later said: Without the climate crisis, the flood would not have happened.
The floods in the Ahr Valley are burned into our memories. But people are dying every single day because of the climate crisis.
These are old people who dehydrate in their homes on hot days and are suddenly too weak to call emergency services. Pregnant women suffer more miscarriages due to the heat. People with asthma struggle with breathing difficulties, and young children in particular suffer. Around a third more people die on extremely hot days than usual. In the summer of 2022, around 100.000 people died from heat in Europe.
While the richest 1 percent on Lake Starnberg, in the Odenwald, in Berlin-Steglitz retreat to their shady gardens, migrant districts like Berlin-Neukölln suffer from the heat island effect: narrow, urban spaces heat up even faster than the surrounding area, the heat There are traffic jams in the streets, students struggle to concentrate in the classroom and lose educational opportunities in the process.
In East Africa, 36 million people are suffering from a drought that has been going on for years, and someone dies of hunger every 48 seconds. A third of Pakistan was flooded.
The climate crisis is here. Just as the oil company Exxon predicted in an internal memo in 1981: burning fossil fuels “will lead to catastrophic consequences in the future.”
Exxon already knew about it back then. Just like the oil multinationals Shell and British Petroleum. What did the CEOs do? They put the studies in the drawer and began to attack the truth. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year, produced false studies, attacked climate scientists and journalism, and spread the lie that there was no global warming. And not only were they successful, they also made good money from it. Three billion dollars in profit a day. Around one percent of global wealth.
“With all this money you can buy any politician and any system,” says Belgian researcher Aviel Verbruggen.
And that's what they do: Corporations have learned to manipulate our representative democracy. This has been shown again and again over the past decades: in the successful campaigns that hid the fact that smoking causes cancer. In the successful campaigns that conceal the fact that the weed killer glyphosate is harmful. This is evident again in the climate crisis.
Christian Lindner receives up to fifteen thousand euros for speaking engagements, his clients include fossil fuel corporations such as E.ON, and he makes at least half a million euros a year in additional income. No wonder he leaves climate protection to “the market”.
Friedrich Merz worked as a lawyer for Ruhrkohle AG and also lobbied as a politician against the phase-out of fossil fuels. 13 people work in Germany's lobby organizations, and fossil fuel companies are among the largest donors.
The bitter result:
The expansion of renewable energies is being sabotaged.
RWE employees write laws for the Ministry of Economics.
The federal government pays 70 billion in subsidies to fossil fuel companies every year.
That means: Corporations are hijacking our democracy – and no one is doing anything about it.
Not “climate chancellor” Olaf Scholz.
Not “Climate Minister” Robert Habeck.
Especially not Volker Wissing.
In doing so, our government is breaking applicable law, our Basic Law - in April 2021, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in a landmark decision that Germany's emissions must decrease. Immediately. Not sometime after 2030. But that's not happening. We continue to race towards the 1,5 degree limit, beyond which lurk the climate tipping points: the Arctic is melting. The Gulf Stream comes to a standstill. The Amazon is dying. And with it our climatic balance.
“I'm telling you that we are pushing our children into a global school bus that has a 98% probability of fatal accident,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, world-renowned climate researcher and founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
But the government is shirking. Putting it off until later, always finding new excuses.
And yes, the transition to renewables was delayed. Yes, energy security is needed. Yes, jobs are needed. But all of this would be possible with renewable energies. But the government is unable to counteract the influence of corporations like RWE. She is failing in her responsibility to protect our lives.
That's why it's time for our democracy to become more democratic. It's time for power to move away from the 1 percent and towards the 99 percent. It is time for citizens to be able to decide for themselves about climate protection.
We want those affected by the climate crisis to finally make the decisions. While the 1 percent are already using their wealth to create emergency plans for the day when hunger and wars occur and are building bunkers in New Zealand, we depend on the state to take precautions to address the climate crisis.
That's why we demand: a binding social council that will work out how Germany can achieve zero emissions by 2030.
Here, people from all sections of the population in Germany come together and, with the help of experts from politics, business, science and civil society, develop binding suggestions on how things can move forward.
Vegans and car fans discuss common solutions because they also have a shared interest: protecting the basis of life on this planet and shaping the path there in a socially just way.
The government has written into the coalition agreement: “We will set up and organize citizens’ councils to address specific issues through the Bundestag.” We take them at their word, because role models from France, Ireland and Belgium show that the format unites people in their efforts and produces constructive approaches.
We call on the federal government to set up a company council and implement its decisions. We demand that we, the 99 percent, finally be allowed to have a say in the preservation of our livelihoods.
Because it has been shown that wherever citizens are allowed to have an informed say about their fate, a better, safer, fairer world awaits us.
Report of the floods in West Germany:
Andy Neumann – It was just rain!? https://www.gmeiner-verlag.de/buecher/titel/es-war-doch-nur-regen.html
Impact of the climate crisis on floods in West Germany:
Dangers for old people in heat waves:
Heat waves and miscarriages:
Excess mortality and heat waves:
Excess mortality and heat waves 2:
Heat islands in Berlin:
Effect of heat on cognitive performance:
Drought in East Africa 2:
ExxonMobile and climate studies:
Oil company profits and how they buy influence:
Christian Lindner receives lobby money:
Annika Joeres, Susanne Götze – The Climate Dirt Lobby, p.191
Christian Lindner's additional income:
Friedrichs Merz lobbies for fossil companies:
Expansion of renewable energies is being sabotaged:
70 billion fossil subsidies:
RWE employees write laws for the Ministry of Economic Affairs:
Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court:
The survival plans of the super-rich, bunkers in New Zealand:
Coalition agreement and citizens' councils:
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