More DW Blogs DW.COM


Thinking for a cooler world

Gianna Gruen | Ideas

For what we risk biodiversity (1): Australia’s coal industry

We all agree, that nature’s richness is precious and needs to be protected. But at the same time it sometimes “just happens” that this precious biodiversity is set at risk.  To raise awareness for this contradiction, we start a little blog series, featuring examples of this phenomenon. Here’s our first part:

We risk biodiversity for the coal industry in Australia

(Photo credit: Public Domain: NASA)

(Photo credit: Public Domain: NASA)

The world’s largest variety of corals (more than 350 different species), more than 1500 tropical fish and at least 200 bird species, 20 different types of reptiles like sea turtles, as well as sponges, mollusks, rays and dolphins: the Australian Great Barrier Reef is teeming with life, in an extraordinary variety of colors and shapes.

Despite this richness, the Australian government recently approved four big industrial projects close to the reef, one of them the expansion of a coal port – which means three million cubic meters of seabed have to be removed. The Australian Brisbane Times vizualizes the amount of soil like this: “the amount of dredge to be dumped offshore is enough to fill 150,000 dump trucks lined up ‘‘bumper to bumper’’ from Brisbane to Melbourne.” Though strict guidelines are said to be applied, environmentalists fear, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area will be affected. Greenpeace warns, instead of less then 2000 ships in 2011, more than 10,000 ships would be traveling through the World Heritage site by 2020. What’s more, the massive projected rise in ship traffic, will also increase CO2-emissions and thus accelerate global warming – which in turn further threatens the reef’s corals.

[story found on]

Do you also know of more examples? Drop us a line in the comment box below!




December 22, 2013



Comments deactivated

Gianna Gruen | Ideas

What ranks higher: Biodiversity or need for green energy?

cc by nc sa pocketdora western ghats

The Western ghats in India are home to 39 Unesco World Heritage Sites (Photo credit: CC BY NC SA: pocketdora)

If you were a politician and forced to choose, in which way would you push your agenda: preserve nature’s diversity by upholding protected areas or to lift the restrictions to allow them to be used for green energy projects – such as solar power or wind farms?

Such decisions are made all over the world. In Sweden for example, there is great potential to expand the use of hydro- or wind-power. At the same time large parts of the country are nature reservoirs and thus protected. But people in Sweden people love there nature and they seem to generally agree that protected areas shouldn’t be given up for the sake of more green energy.

In India the opposite happens: In a region called the “Western ghats“, reaching along almost the whole Western coast of the country. Due to its richness in unique plant- and animal-species it’s also considered a global biodiversity hotspot – one of 35 biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Though, a little over a third (some 60,000 sq km) of that area is designated an “ecologically sensitive area” and thus protected. Well, “protection” here means the following: Companies are not allowed to dig mines, set up thermal power plants or any other polluting industries. But hydro-electric power plants and wind turbines are ok if they conform to strict “green” rules and monitoring, according to a report by the Times of India.

The other 63 percent of the Western Ghats will remain unprotected, designated as “cultural landscape” (including villages, agriculture and non-forest plantations). But biodiversity experts call for caution: just because a region is considered a “cultural” landscape it should not be less worth protecting. Also, in a cultural landscape they consider industrial activity to be a possible threat to nature’s richness. Environmentalists fear desertification of the region may be a problem, too.

As so often it comes down to a hard choice between economic goals and the value of nature: How would you decide?


December 13, 2013



Comments deactivated

Global Ideas Reporter | Ideas

Writers on Biodiversity wanted

Global Ideas is inviting contributions from experienced and well-connected environmental journalists and bloggers for our award-winning multimedia program. We are looking for freelance contributors with an engaging writing style and a good eye for new stories who have a proven track record of covering biodiversity for major online news media. Potential candidates need to be well connected on social media and active participants in relevant conversations there. Interested? Then get in touch with us: @dw_globalideas


November 29, 2013



Comments deactivated

Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

Do you really need all of that?

All we need is less?! from youthinkgreen on Vimeo.

Flo is more than a funny guy in a video. He’s a musician with a message: Think about your daily routines, your daily needs, your energy consumption or the way you use cars and plastic bags. Together with the youth network “YOUTHinkgreen” he wants to proof that little changes have an impact in our lives. In an experiment Flo is going to leave his personal comfort zone for a few weeks. From November 25th he will live without unnecessary packaging for 7 days, he will avoid motorized transport for another week and finally he will try to live without electricity. Flo will keep us updated on his feelings, successes and dissappointments, by texts, pictures and some video posts. If you want, you are free to join him.


November 22, 2013



Comments deactivated

Global Ideas Reporter | COP19

Impressions from the UN climate summit in Warsaw

Journalists from all over the world come to Warsaw to report on what is happening at the 19th climate conference. In a short interview four of them describe their impressions.

On November 16, people from around the world took to the streets outside the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw (COP19) to demand climate justice. (Photo credit: CC BY NC SA 2.0: Jamie Henn/

What are the most pressing climate issues in your home country? Are those issues addressed at all in this conference?

Giuliana Miranda works for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo

Giuliana Miranda, Brazil: The intensification of the extreme weather events is a hot topic in Brazil. As  presented in the last World Meteorological Organization report, released  earlier this week here in Warsaw, the water cycle has already changed in my  country. We are facing severe drought in several parts of the the territory,  specially the northeast and in central Brazil. Fortunately, the subject is being discussed here, but it doesn’t mean we are getting  closer to a solution.

Jessly Obando, Nicaragua: Diseases related to climate change. There really is not as much  information as I would like, especially in the Central American region.

Nivedita Khandekar writes for the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times.

Esteban Bonco Lugo Perea, Colombia: Carbon market projects, which so far have been addressed but not specifically about my country or the region.

Nivedita Khandekar, India: India may not need finance but it is taking up cudgels  on behalf of the developing countries. Emission reduction is an issue and I am confident our negotiators are not going to budge to the demands of rich countries. Also, India has successfully managed to remain out of the trap – and  also lead all developing countries – where rich countries wanted poor countries  to include agriculture and cattle related emissions.

Bhrikuti Rai, Nepal: This year’s delegation  focuses mainly on financing for the national adaptation plan and pushing for the loss and damage in every platform. However, the pressing climate issues remain: dealing with erratic rainfall, melting glaciers and the risk of glacier lake outburst flooding and most importantly dealing with the aftermath of theses kind of disasters. But during this COP, these issues will likely be lost in technical jargon which is more related to the financial aspects.

How is the performance of your Delegation so far? Do they try to solve the problems or are they part of the problems?

Giuliana Miranda, Brazil: Brazil kept a team of very experienced delegates during the last meetings, but  for various reasons, the main representatives of the delegation  have changed in 2013, including the chief negotiator. He might have faced some scepticism at the beginning, but seems to be doing a good job. The Brazilian  proposal to look at the historical responsibility for global  warming is now a position for the entire G77 group and China.

Jessly Francis Obando Gonzales works for Periodico Hoy in Nicaragua.

Jessly Obando, Nicaragua: Well, so far they have only been devoted to criticizing, but I see  that they are now contributing to a change.

Esteban Bonco Lugo Perea, Colombia: After speaking to the chief negotiator of my delegation, I must say the government has good intentions and is doing everything it can to have as best an outcome as possible.

Nivedita Khandekar, India: They are very good negotiators. Not just for India, they  have been successfully doing it for a whole lot of developing countries too.

Bhrikuti Rai, Nepal: Although Nepal chairs the group of least developed countries and it has made its presence comparatively visible compared to other COPs, the Nepali delegation doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of the new found visibility. From the meetings I have been to it is clear that the members of the core negotiating team are the biggest drawback when it comes to addressing the problems, most of them aren’t even from the government and even if they are they are not from the departments concerned, so their presentation so far has been very superficial without really getting to the heart of the matter.

What do you think of the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw in general? Is it just a talk shop or a chance for real action?

Giuliana Miranda, Brazil: I think the parties do have a chance to start to make a difference here. We  know this conference will not produce any kind of revolutionary agreement, but  it’s a chance to set the basis for achieving commitments [at the UN climate summit] in Paris in 2015.

Jessly Obando, Nicaragua: I think they have the power to decide but not the will and those  who really want change are seen as fanatics. In the first week I was  disappointed and I truly hope that this week will see something more concrete.

Esteban Bonco Lugo Perea works in Colombia for the newspaper Diario el Nuevo Siglo.

Esteban Bonco Lugo Perea, Colombia: It must be an opportunity for action. The world will not forgive otherwise.

Nivedita Khandekar, India: The COP19 at the end of its first week does look like it is  going to be only talk, talk and more talk. The rich nations, especially the  USA, seem in no mood to work out a deal. But as Christiana Figueres, the COP  executive secretary, said today, there is still time for hope. Fingers crossed.

Bhrikuti Rai, Nepal: I think UN Climate Summits help put on the table many pertinent climate issues but the fact that the bigger economies have the most say in these talks and they are the ones really steering the direction of the entire summit, the chance for real action is missed somewhere along the line when these countries decide to backslide on the commitments and pledges. The summit in Warsaw still has a week to go so it still cannot be said how the talks are going to turn, but the fact that the host country itself does not seem very keen to steer away from cheap fossil fuels, means that it is likely that the bigger economies might yet again postpone dealing with the pressing issues until next year.


November 18, 2013



Comments deactivated