FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Scientific American:Zollverein is a symbol of Germany’s transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy—a program called the Energiewende that aims to have 80 percent of the country’s energy generated from renewables by 2050. That program has transformed Germany into a global poster child for green energy. But what does the transition mean for residents of Essen and the rest of the Ruhr region—the former industrial coal belt—whose lives and livelihoods have been dramatically altered by the reduced demand for coal? The answer to that could hold some useful lessons for those undergoing similar transitions elsewhere.Spanning roughly 1,700 square miles (2,700 kilometers), the Ruhr Valley lies in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, made up of 53 cities that came to depend on coal mining when it reached an industrial scale in the 1800s. At their height in the 1950s, the mines employed about 600,000 workers, entwining the region’s identity with coal.“Coal runs through my whole life,” says Spahn, whose grandfather, father and two sons were miners, too. But in the 1970s, as cheaper coal imports from other countries began to outcompete German production and drive down the price of domestic coal, it became unsustainable for the government to keep subsidizing the mines. At the same time, an appetite for green energy began in the 1970s, driven forward by a wave of anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany that gathered force after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. And so, the phaseout of coal began.Today, only two hard coal mines remain, and in 2018 they’ll both be shut down. Germany continues to import hard coal from other countries for a substantial portion of its energy production—another habit it’s trying to kick, in line with its 2050 renewable energy target. The country also still extracts soft brown coal called lignite from hundreds of open-pit mines across the country. However, with the federal elections coming up in September, the phaseout of lignite is on the political agenda. Such a move would cost another several thousand jobs in the Ruhr alone—forcing the government to consider how to achieve a fair and final phaseout, and the role of renewable energy in that.The move away from hard coal has left a lingering legacy in some cities, where unemployment can exceed 10 percent. Still, overall it “was really a soft and just transition,” says Stefanie Groll, head of Environmental Policy and Sustainability at the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Berlin. “In the Ruhr area, union representatives and local politicians worked out a plan to compensate and requalify people who worked in the coal industry,” she says. For families like Spahn’s, it was a success: under pressure from the labor unions, the mines where his sons worked launched a proactive campaign in 1994 to train employees for different careers. “My one son is now a professional security guard and the other is a landscaper,” he says.The mines themselves have even become a cultural stage. A museum and gallery at Zollverein attracts over 250,000 visitors a year, and several other mines host music concerts, food and cultural festivals. In the nearby city of Bochum, an old industrial plant—now the site of the German Mining Museum—is surrounded with stately homes flanked by lush gardens. The change hasn’t gone unnoticed; the Ruhr was officially named Europe’s cultural capital in 2010.The Ruhr also has become attractive for businesses to invest. Zollverein, like many former mines, is now also home to several businesses. Artists, jewelry designers, choreographers, design firms and tourism companies are just a sampling of those who have made the trendy industrial space their home.In Gelsenkirchen, locals experience some of the highest unemployment rates, hovering around 15 percent. The city’s quiet streets betray signs of economic struggle, with many businesses boarded up. But since the 1990s, it has been trying to revisit its former industrial prosperity with the Science Park, a hub for regional business, which lies on the site of a former coal-powered steel plant. The building’s glass facade looks over a manmade lake flanked by rolling lawns, and its roof is outfitted with 900 solar panels that generate roughly one-third of the building’s electricity.“Gelsenkirchen was called the city of a thousand fires. It became the city of a thousand suns,”—a nod to the solar roof, and green energy technologies being developed at the park, says Hildegard Boisserée-Frühbuss, project manager at the park’s EnergyLab, a experimental laboratory that educates local students about renewable energies. The building now houses 51 businesses—mostly focused on science, technology and renewable energy development. Boisserée-Frühbuss spends her time working with local colleges and schools to give the youth exposure to these fields, in the hopes that they’ll be inspired to find employment there. “Once it was a steel foundry. Now the Science Park is a thinking factory,” she says.With the move toward renewables, how much the Ruhr will benefit—having sacrificed so much toward this clean energy goal—has become a primary focus. Some 330,000 people work in the renewable sector in Germany; 45,000 of those are in North-Rhine Westphalia—and that will grow, predicts Jan Dobertin from the National Association of Renewable Energies in North-Rhine Westphalia, known as LEE NRW. “The Ruhr region is now one of the biggest providers of green economy products and services, such as efficiency technologies, recycling or renewable energy,” Dobertin says. LEE NRW works with regional energy companies to build better political frameworks for integrating renewables in the Ruhr. “Our argument is that the renewable energy sector is much more employee intensive than [fossil fuels],” he says. A recent poll of Ruhr residents carried out by LEE NRW suggests that they have the public on their side: 64 percent of those polled want renewables to be a priority for the state government of North-Rhine Westphalia.In keeping with this trend, just outside the small city of Bottrop a plant called Prosper-Haniel—one of the two last hard coal mines in Germany—has become the frontline of a renewables experiment. Ahead of its closure in 2018, a consortium of local universities, consultants and mining operators are exploring the chance to turn the plant’s deep mine shaft into a hydroelectric storage facility. The plan is at a preliminary, exploratory stage, cautions André Niemann from the University of Essen-Duisburg, who is coordinating the research team. But if it works, it could store and provide power for over 400,000 local homes. He’s motivated by the chance to revive the industrial landscape he grew up in. “The question will be, what did we do to give the region back to the people?” he says.More: Germany’s Transition from Coal to Renewables Offers Lessons for the World The German Transition Model
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A West Islip man has been arrested for allegedly chaining a cinder block to his family’s dog, which he then threw into a canal, drowning the pet eight months ago, authorities said.Suffolk County SPCA investigators charged John Shultz with felony animal cruelty. He was released without bail following his initial court appearance. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison.Authorities said the 66-year-old suspect tied the block around the neck of family’s 7-year-old female Rottweiler mix before tossing the dog and the block into the canal behind his family’s Secatogue Lane East home last year.An anonymous tipster reported finding the dog floating in the canal on Sept. 18. A veterinarian later confirmed that the dog fatally drowned.Shultz is due back in court July 21.
Ace golfer Anirban Lahiri might not have won the PGA Championship in Whistling Straits on Sunday, but for an Indian, who nurtured his talent in a country with limited infrastructure in golf, even a tied fifth-finish is an incredible feat.Lahiri surpassed the record of the best finish by an Indian in a Major, which was previously held by Jeev Milkha Singh, who finished ninth at the 2008 PGA Championship. While a tied-fifth finish on Sunday helped him return to top-50 at world rankings, where he stands 38th now, he also achieved the rare feat by an Indian golfer to make to the prestigious biennial President’s Cup, where Rest of the World (minus Europe) competes against the United States.Lahiri is the winner of seven titles on the Asian Tour which also include two co-sanctioned European Tour titles. What can’t be ignored he has achieved all this at 28, quite an early age by Indian golf’s standards.Speaking of Lahiri’s ability to scale greater heights, his long-time Bengaluru-based coach Vijay Divecha said it was the golfer’s sheer hard work and habit of not sitting on laurels, which stood him out.”What Anirban is achieving now is a result of hard work of 14 years. He has great work ethic, knows what he wants to achieve and enthusiastically commits himself to do that. He has hunger to win, is brutally honest about himself and psychologically he is very strong. His qualities have mounded him into an achiever and his progress is a result of that,” Divecha told Mail Today.advertisementHe further told, “One thing you can’t ignore about him he never sits on his laurels. He is coming back to India after two months of extremely busy schedule and on Monday, we will sit, wipe out the memories of the PGA Championship and plan how we can give better results in future.”It was no mean feat that Lahiri returned under-par cards on all four days in Whistling Straits. While his starting round was a two-under 70, he improved on the second day to go five-under 67. Third day, he submitted a 70 again, but staged a superb comeback on the pressure-packed final day to card a four-under 68 for an 13-under 275 aggregate. In one of the four Majors – the PGA Championship – where world’s top golfers were in the fray and psychological pressure lets one down, how did he manage such low scores?”He went to play in the US in March and acclimitise to the conditions fast. In the process, he played on some of the toughest golf courses, plus he had already been playing tough courses around the world. In the US, courses are set like that a minor mistake can cost you dear. This year he has played in some of the biggest tournaments on the US PGA Tour. So psychologically he is better equipped to handle pressure and he considerably did that at the PGA Championship.”Lahiri also has age with his side and can go miles if he keeps him improving. Can he set the bar high for him and other Indian golfers, Divecha said, “Playing four Majors in a year is a big feat and finishing fifth in one of them makes people take a notice of your ability. Anirban has so many years of golf left in him that he can win more than one Majors, if in upcoming years, he doesn’t sit on his laurels.”The coach said, “He can do that since he has extraordinary commitment to his mission. Within two years into the amateur circuit he was India No. 1, within two years of turning pro he was India No. 1. He started winning quite early on the Asian Tour and now he is making long strides on the PGA Tour. He always set a goal and invests all his energies to achieve that. He just needs to keep that doing,” Divecha said.