Green Time

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Red TIME magazine came in green last week. It’s a “Special Environmental Issue”, and the effect of the cover in complemetary green is visually striking. Kudos to TIME Art Director Arthur Hochstein. This is only the second edition ever to depart from the iconic red border (a black rimmed edition followed September 11th), so TIME is making quite a statement here. Unfortunately, the title is “How to Win the War On Global Warming”, and Bryan Walsh’s title story builds on this martial imagery. Is this the only approach we can take to a real challenge? On the other hand, I appreciate the creative impulse to break the mold of ecology being “soft”. That’s edgy, and it’s telling it like it is.

We’re clearly coming into an age where the environment is a major economic factor and no longer the domain of idealists. There have been and there are going to be more wars over resources. But more pertinently, we need to get a better picture of what we are doing with our resources in the first place, and how we can improve that. That’s what empowers us. Just read the May editions of Spotlight and Business Spotlight, two sister magazines for learners of English that feature some pretty incredible background information on the battle for clean water and on the drastic amount of resources that bottled water destroys. Let me tell you, you’ll never drink water out of a plastic bottle again. I have the pleasure of writing online texts and exercises for Spotlight, but I really recommend getting the hard copy magazines. There’s just nothing like a nice mag with good pictures and stories to schlep around.

osram offgrid

Many of the companies I have taught at are currently expanding their nice green technologies to new markets that didn’t enjoy such luxuries before. Osram, for example, is currently pursuing off-grid lighting concepts at the “bottom of the pyramid” in Kenya. What I find interesting is that they are really going for the triple bottom line – you know, making products acceptable economically, environmentally and socially – by collaborating with institutions that provide microfinance to cover the purchase of the appliance such as an energy saving lamp with a rechargeable battery. That way the customer pays only for the energy he or she actually uses. That’s a really good approach, because that’s the way people need things to be.

Germany brings together technological expertise and environmental values, which frankly makes it fun to live here. But here near the top of the pyramid we need a little more “green time”. I think I’m making up this term, but it’s a very real concept to me. “Green time” is downtime that keeps us rooted in a lifestyle where we don’t consume more products, sustainable or otherwise. We need to consume less – period. My parents taught me a lot about caring for things to guarantee their long life. My best jeans are the old ones, and my favorite sweater is the one with the moth holes. I know this attitude doesn’t exactly drive the economy. But hey, it sells books and magazines, at least to me. More importantly, it keeps us sane and real. I’m looking forward to the beautiful month of May, and am definitely planning to have plenty of “green time”.

Multimedia links and tips:

  • The Story of Stuff – by Annie Leonard (20 min.; see teaser below) – great information-rich interactive multimedia presentation!
  • New thinking on the climate crisis – Al Gore, TED March 2008 (21/28 min. below): “In order to solve the climate crisis, we need to solve the democracy crisis.”
  • The Animals Save The Planet – very cute – by Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit / Chicken Run) – see one below
  • Buying green and having fun? Read Tree Hugger “How to Green Your Life” guides. Want green IT? See EPEAT. Für meine deutschen Leser:
  • Here’s a teaser for Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff:

    Al Gore: New Thinking on the Climate Crisis – TED March 2008 (21/28 minutes)

    Animals Save the Planet, Aardman Animations

    Learning the ropes – Sparen Sie Sich das Wörterbuch:

    environmental – umweltbezogen
    complemetary – komplimentär
    striking – visuell eindrücklich
    kudos – Hut ab
    depart from – abweichen
    iconic – mit Kultsymbolcharakter
    border – Rand
    rimmed – umrandet
    martial imagery – Kriegsmetaphern
    break the mold – aus vorgefertigten Formen ausbrechen
    edgy – hipp, herausfordernd
    tell it like it is – sagen, wie es wirklich ist
    domain – Gebiet
    more pertinently – passender, mehr zur Sache passend
    to empower – bemächtigen
    hard copy – Druckware
    mag – magazine
    to schlep – (coll. Am.) schleppen
    luxury, -ies – Luxusto pursue – nachgehen
    off-grid lighting concepts – nicht an das Netz angeschlossene Lichtkonzepte
    bottom of the pyramid – am unteren Rand der Pyramide
    to go for sth. – zielgerichtet verfolgen
    the triple bottom line – das dreigliedrige Erfolgskonzept
    to collaborate –
    provide microfinance – Kleinstfinanzierung anbieten
    to cover – abdecken, finanzieren
    appliance – Gerät
    energy saving lamp – Energiesparlampe
    rechargeable battery – Akku
    actually – eigentlich
    approach -Ansatz, Herangehensweise
    frankly – ehrlich gesagt
    to make something up – erfinden
    downtime – Auszeit
    rooted – verwurzelt
    sustainable – nachhaltig
    period – Punkt
    teach, taught – beibringen
    to care for things of value – wertvolle Sachen pflegen
    sweater – Pulli
    moth hole – Mottenloch
    attitude – Einstellung
    not exactly – nicht gerade
    to drive the economy – die Wirtschaft vorantreiben
    sane – (geistig) gesund
    counterparts = Gegenspieler
    ridiculous = lächerlich
    exhausted = erschöpft
    You suck = Du bist Sch…
    treadmill = Tretmühle

    Learning English tip of the week:

    Treat yourself to a nice magazine in English with lots of pictures and the kind of stories you are interested in for your “green time” this week. You learn best when you’re relaxed and when you can show and tell someone else what you have learned.


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