Column makeshift label: climate change – that’s us

Global warming is advancing. What does the individual have to do with it? Quite a lot. Separating garbage and organic washing powder alone won’t save the world.

Lignite is evil. Here it is being mined. Photo: dpa

Climate change is one of those things. Some people are happy about the much too warm weather in December, while others decry the supposed effects of advancing global warming. Basically, I don’t care about the weather, it does what it wants anyway. What am I supposed to do about it alone?

The Paris climate conference that ended last Saturday had the makings of an all-world issue. Suddenly friends and colleagues were talking about the weather and even more about their own climate sins or just the opposite. Whereby: What is the opposite of sin – a saintly deed? Well, none of us are saints. At most a little bit.

I now wash my clothes only with organic washing powder and organic fabric softener; boil wash has become rare, low temperatures protect the environment. Organic dishwashing detergent is obligatory. The eggs are organic and from the eco-shop around the corner, to which we recently return the old egg packaging – that is resource-saving. I ride my bike as often as possible and use public transport; for long journeys I take the train. Only fly once a year (and stay pretty in Europe). All light bulbs are replaced with environmentally friendly LED bulbs. Batteries are disposed of properly – I’m a bit of an environmental activist in disguise.

I cook and shower with gas, which is certainly evil, but is there actually biogas? I only use bio-paint on windows and doors. I clean with bioneutral cleaner, which does not kill the good bacteria and microorganisms in the sewage system. I’ve been buying only organic meat since the beginning of the year, which has cut my meat consumption tremendously (and thus my personal carbon footprint). Yes, I separate waste and have even overcome my aversion to organic waste: Since I throw my organic waste in the organic garbage can, my personal waste volume has been cut in half. Awesome. I’m on the good side.

Everyone has downsides

Well, not entirely, of course. Everyone has their dark sides. Mine is that I am a fan of the tiled stove. When a gas floor heating system was installed in my apartment a few years ago, I was able to leave one stove – the one in the living room. I wanted to heat it only once in a while on cold weekends, so I wanted to use it only additionally. Because it is so cozy. There’s nothing better than sitting with your back to the warm tiled stove on bitterly cold winter days and reading a book or doing something else. This feeling of well-being does not come by chance, because the heat rays of the furnace are similar to those of the sun. Heating heat is the exact opposite of solar heat.

Over the years, I heated my beloved tiled stove more and more often, and now I do it every day from October to March. And I have to admit it: I burn lignite. At the moment, depending on the outside temperatures, I use six to eight large briquettes. German branded goods, of course. They have a good calorific value, as you can see from the brown ash that remains. Poor quality coals are unmasked by white ash, as I learned as a child.

Good calorific value comes at a price. I don’t mean the real hassle of lugging up the heavy 25-kilogram briquette bundles. Nor do I mean the purchase price, because the costs for a heating period with coal and one with gas are about the same.

Comfort comes first

But the environment suffers. My stove blows carbon dioxide into the air. And so do other stoves in the house and my Friedrichshain street. You can smell it. If the wind is unfavorable, it stinks like in GDR times, when half of East Berlin was still kept warm with tiled stoves – in other words, terribly. But I put up with that. Because in that one respect, I don’t care about my ecological footprint. Comfort comes first. I am a climate sinner. Because climate change – that’s us.

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