How do daily newspapers in Germany report on the subject of urban mobility? For a study by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) that explores how current and future urban mobility are reported on in the German media, a team of researchers examined a selection of articles from daily newspapers. The study reveals that sustainable forms of mobility are seldom discussed. Similarly, the climate crisis is rarely mentioned in articles relating to mobility and transport. If the articles have one thing in common, it is the implicit assumption that the car-friendly city is desirable.
Wouldn’t it be a big leap forward for climate and environmental protection if we could let a machine, a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) manage our consumption of natural resources? Remind – or even compel – us to buy local food instead of products from overseas? Tell us to take the bike instead of the car to work when air quality levels are low? Shut off streaming TV series when we have exhausted our weekly carbon budget? Or maybe even advise the government on the conversion of urban areas into much-needed cropland or the preservation of wilderness areas?
The “Green Me Global Festival for Sustainability” is an annual event hosted at different locations around the world. Recent iterations of the festival have explored the elements earth, water and air across film screenings, discussions, and other initiatives. Researchers from the IASS have contributed to a number of these events over the years. The eleventh GreenMe Festival will take place in Berlin later this year under the motto “Action, Passion, Fire”. This prompted me to explore the themes of fire and sustainability in a dinner speech at a recent function to which sponsors and supporters of the festival were invited in early May. The following essay draws upon my comments there.