English Texts



Yale Climate Connections, January 5, 2018

Talanoa: „Straight Talk to break the climate impasses

Building trust to find common interests on climate change


Traditional Fijian dancers added exotic flair to the climate conference COP23 in Bonn. Credit: BMUB/Matthias Ketz




At the climate talks in Bonn late in 2017 „Talanoa“ seemed like the cure-all for the problems of international climate action. Introduced by the host Fiji the word means a traditional form of group discussion characterised by telling stories and listening with respect. Can this way of talking to each other really make a difference? Yale Climate Connections published an English version of a text I had written in German. more



Sueddeutsche Zeitung, March 23, 2016

Scars in the ground

26 years ago scientists ploughed the seafloor off Ecuador to study the possible effects of deep sea mining. A fresh look at the site shows: Life has barely recovered

An unknown species of sea anemone clings
to a dead stalk four kilometers below the sea. Credit: portal-forschungsschiffe.de





In the summer of 2015 the brand new German research vessel „Sonne“ (Sun) left Guayaquil in Ecuador on a westerly course. Its destination was a patch of open water in the Pacific ocean. 7 degrees 4 minutes south, 88 degrees 28 minutes west, nothing but waves all around. What set this position in the Peru basin apart lay four kilometers below the keel: a plot of ten square kilometers of sea floor that German scientists had ploughed 1989 and monitored for a few years. The project called Discol remains unique until today. It was started to find out what deep sea mining would do to the fragile ecosystem of the dark abyss. more

Note: This story was awarded a Silver AAAS Kavli Award for Science Journalism in the category large newspaper. Here is the release. 


Science,  January 29, 2016

Coal Exit

The German discussion about shutting down coal fired power plants is speeding up this year. In January a think tank presented a concept for quitting coal by 2040. more


On my blog on August 29, 2016

The Age of the mushroom clouds

Decades after testing atomic bombs many of affected areas are still contaminated. Forensic scientists are tracing that legacy and are finding critical contamination

The Bravo test of Operation Crossroads seen from the Bikini atoll in 1946. Source: United States Department of Defense/ commons.wikimedia.org,
public domain


The history of the American nuclear arsenal still makes for good and necessary research projects. Scientists look at the legacy of the mushroom-cloud-age. New methods like analyzing the glass shards from the Trinity site deliver insight into the inner workings of the bombs, and these projects could help monitor future weapons control treaties. Other researchers have fresh data on some of the forgotten locations of the atmospheric bomb tests the US-Army continued to conduct for almost 20 years after the end of World War II – places like Enewetak, Rongelap and Bikini in the Pacific ocean. Well worth looking at also: Camp Century in the Arctic. more


Sueddeutsche Zeitung, November 23, 2015

Under Fire

In Climate Science and a few other fields massive attacks on scientists have become commonplace. They keep the victims from work and slow down progress – which is exactly what the aggressors want. Philosophers of science are now debating how to expose the detrimental objections.




Portrait of Shauna Murray from
Nick Bowers’s series „Scared Scientists
with kind permission of the artist.
All rights: Nick Bowers






Matthew England looks traumatized. Shauna Murray is at a loss for words, and in Tim Flannery’s eyes there is pain. The black-and-white portraits of the renowned Australian climate researchers are disturbing. A compatriot, the photographer Nick Bowers, captured them. He laid it on thickly: dark background, sparse lighting, harsh contrasts. The facial expressions, however, are no effect of fancy camerawork. They mirror the feelings the subjects in the pictures had after talking to Bowers about their experiences with the public. Until recently Australia had a prime minister who aggressively doubted basic tenets of climate science and also media ruled by the Murdoch group and hampered by few inhibitions. „Scared Scientists” is what Bowers called his photographic essay. more


Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 29, 2015

Architecture of power

Archeologists in Berlin are reconstructing the Forum Romanum as a digital 3D-model. They show how antique politicians converted the square to consolidate their positions. It changed from a market to the stage of tribunes and emporers

Picture: Digital Reconstruction of the Forum Romanum in 14 AD, looking toward Cesar’s temple, Copyright: DIGITALES FORUM ROMANUM / MUTH, MÜLLER, MARIASCHK; Link

„Does anyone know a good dream reader“, Cesar asks in his last facebook post. “My dear wife Calpurnia had nightmares of daggers all night long.” The date is the Ides of March of the year 710 of the Roman calendar. By today’s count it is March 15, 44 BC – Cesar’s date of death. The dictator is stabbed by a group of conspirators before the beginning of a senate session. Cleopatra tries to warn him, on facebook as well, asks him to beware of Brutus, but Cesar replies: “Never fear, he is almost like a son to me.” more


Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 21 October 2014

An imprint on the planet

Human civilization has left any number of traces in nature. But are the changes dramatic enough to still be seen in the distant future? Geologists are discussing whether the “Anthropocene” has begun

The new era begins in the kitchen drawer. It’s the place where cling wrap and aluminum foil are stored in lots of households. Pieces torn from those rolls usually do their duty only for a short period of time, in the fridge or elsewhere, before being tossed to the bin, scrunched to a ball. It‘s hard to image in Germany with its passion for separating waste, recycling what’s possible and burning the rest, but the world over a lot of these materials end up in the environment – or the landfill, if things go well. more


Sueddeutsche Zeitung, November 22, 2014

Going to Mars

When mankind looks beyond its own planet its gaze usually falls on Mars. Exotic destinations like distant comets and other planets don’t interest space afficionados as much as the neighbor which is so similar to Earth in many ways. For 40 years mankind has been sending all kinds of probes to the Red Planet, dozens got stuck or lost. Many people would even take a one-way-trip there. What fuels this desire?

There is a curse on Mars. At least that’s what planet scientist first of Soviet, then of Russian origin must think. Nineteen times in five centuries they have tried to send space ships to Mars and only one of these missions can benevolently be called a success. It was named Mars 5, launched when there was still a super power called Soviet Union on July 25, 1973. On February 12 the following year the probe settled into an orbit around the Red Planet, just like it was planned, and started its programmed work. During the following two weeks it sent about 100 pictures before falling silent on February 28. A micrometeorite is thought to have hit it. more