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Four for the Climate

How our family tries to lead a CO2-neutral life

A family of four sits at the table having dinner. As they do, the two adults talk to the children about a somewhat boring topic: climate change. Their 13-year-old daughter had come home from school, had sat down at the computer and played with the WWF’s footprint calculator. She wanted to work out her family’s ecological footprint. The result for this four-person household: 42 tonnes of CO2 per year. The evening’s discussion gradually develops into a family project. Each of them wants to actively save on CO2 emissions in order to help slow down climate change. Would fewer car drivers help? Or eating less meat? Or not flying on holiday any more? They have a look at their lives, “warts and all”, and what they would have to change and how they can buy their way out. But then they quickly realise that buying their way out doesn’t work. It gets interesting at precisely the moment they start to scrutinise one another.

Of course, you can simply ignore climate change, like the dangers of smoking. The illness is known as “cognitive dissonance”. This is the discrepancy between one’s knowledge and one’s own behaviour, and it describes self-deception.
The book is wonderfully humorous and becomes more and more informative. It shows how a family struggles over every kilo of CO2, in a society where there may be a lot of talk, but where people hardly change anything concrete in themselves. Within a year – from January to December – they get serious. They start to question their lifestyle and to change it step by step: they no longer fly on holiday, no longer buy any clothes from the Far East, only buy regionally produced foods, avoid driving and instead travel by bike and bus. They start to see their world through different eyes…

Emissions: 1kg butter = 23.794 kg/CO2 • 1kg beef = 13.311 kg/CO2 • 1kg frozen chips = 5.728 kg/CO2 • 1kg fresh potatoes = 199 g/CO2 • 1kg fresh vegetables = 153 g/CO2 • 1 kg chicken = 3.508 kg/CO2 • 1kg cheese = 8.512 kg/CO2 • 1kg eggs = 1.931 kg/CO2 etc.
Four for the ClimatePetra Pinzler & Günther Wessel | Droemer, 2018 | €18 (301 Pages)

About the author

Uwe Heitkamp, 53 years old, started working after university in daily newspapers and from 1984 on in public tv broadcasting companies such as WDR (Collogne), NDR (Hamburg), SDR (Stuttgart/Baden-Baden) in the ARD (first programme), wrote several books and directed the cinema movie about the anti nuclear movement in Germany in 1986 (Wackersdorf). After emigration in 1990 he founded 1995 the trilingual weekly printed newspaper “Algarve123” and later the online edition www.algarve123.com. Heitkamp lives for 25 year in Monchique, Portugal. He loves mountain hiking and swimming in streams and lakes, writes and tells stories of success from people and their sustainable relationship between ecology and economy. His actual film “Revolutionary Roads” tells the 60 minute story of a long walk crossing Portugal. 10 rural people paint a picture of their lives in the hills of the serra and the hinterland. The film captures profound impressions of natural beauty and human life. Along which path is the future of Portugal to be found? (subscribe to ECO123 und watch the documentary in the Mediatec)

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