Photo Flick Nr. 73: Tribute to Ukraine

Source: Ampelmann Berlin

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This Photo Flick is more like a sound-off to the German government and the people in Germany to finally wake up. If there is a term that does not exist in the dictionaries in the minds of today’s society, it is the word Sacrifice. Sacrifice is being willing to give up a little bit of our pleasure if our country is at stake in order to protect ourselves and others. This includes having restrictions, another term that seems to be missing as well but it came at us like a bucket of ice, cold water with the Covid-19 Lockdowns and other restrictions in 2020 and ’21. We were born with the mentality that we could do everything because we have unlimited resources.

With the Russian-Ukrainian War, everything has changed, yet we keep utilizing the unlimited mentality that is slowly becoming non-existent, especially when it comes to Russia shutting off its oil faucets to the rest of Europe and parts of the US and Canada. While some countries, like Hungary, Slovakia and Poland were (and are still) heavily reliant on Russian oil, we were not far behind, sapping 20% of its resources annually. We scramble to compensate while keeping our eye out on businesses and the people that are impacted by the Russian oil embargo, yet what we have come up with is something that will go down in history as the biggest epic fail in the history of the Bundesrepublik, namely, the 9-Euro Ticket to encourage people to use public transportation- regional trains, busses, and metro-services. The 9-Euro Ticket was basically throwing money at the people to encourage them to travel wherever in Germany and whenever they wanted to. End result: overfulled trains, 400 of them having to stop to throw the passengers off during one weekend alone- Pentecost. And that’s not all, we have the “rebate” on gas that is to alleviate commuters, merchants and vacationers at the gas pumps. No matter which one is worse, the end result is the same- zero effect and it will not sway the public to change their habits. In fact, it will only drain our oil reserves to near zero before winter time. Then we have a wonderful salad that we will have to chew on for months on end- all spoiled and ice cold.

If we want to reduce our use of oil while buying time to convert to renewable energy and other alternatives, we have to endure the pain of sacrifice in order for our country to continue running while in the face of war. Otherwise if we have no oil and other resources, businesses will shut down and households will be dealing with no heating and iceboxes. Either way we go, we must sacrifice in order to achieve the goal of becoming energy independent. What the government is doing now is putrid and puny. Even encouraging people to save on energy will be a partial success. We need to dig deep into our toolbox and use the measures already tried with success in order to get through the crisis. Some were last used in the 1970s, others were introduced recently. Since the current measures are not working, perhaps the Traffic Light Coalition (SPD, Greens & FDP) should consider the following options:

Universal Speed Limits– The Russian-Ukrainian war and its impending oil crisis may serve as an incentive to once and for all introduce speed limits to discourage speeding and reckless driving, especially on German Motorways (Autobahn). A speed limit of 130 km/h on every kilometer of these freeways, and reducing speed on highways and other designated streets will save money on gas and diesel, reduce the number of fatalities and improve the air quality. To ensure they are in force, police officers will have to use their radar guns and gatsometers more often than normal, which will bring in money collected by fines but force drivers to slow down and allow more time to travel.

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No Driving Days- Just as successful as reining in speeding is introducing designated days where no driving was allowed. This was last used in the early 1970s when the oil crisis shut down many gas stations and forced the government to impose a “Sonntagsfahrverbot”- A No Driving Sunday. This encouraged many people to forego their cars for their Sunday bike and walking trips on the motorways. Already we have one for truckers who are not allowed to travel on Sundays, but it would not hurt to sacrifice a day or two of traveling when it is normally not necessary.

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Compulsory Home Office– This is perhaps the most effective measure to encourage people to keep their cars at home. Home Office was introduced in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and it turned into a smashing success as people were able to work from home. There are several advantages to working from home, which includes being more creative, balancing work with your home chores and being able to use the computer to complete your tele-conferencing and other transactions. Companies have been introducing a scheme where there is a 50/50 balance between going to work and working from home, namely two days of being at work. For teachers and other educators, it would mean three days of being at work and two days of preparing at home. Should the crisis exacerbate the situation with oil shortages further, one can consider five days of home office and only having once a month mandatory attendance.

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Rolling Blackouts– This practice, which was done many times in the western part of the United States in the summer time, calls for areas to shut down power for a limited time to save energy. This would affect homes and non-essential businesses. This should be used in emergency, when oil sources are scarce and the pace to switch energy sources is slower than expected. The exception from the rolling blackout is the critical infrastructure- hospitals, police and military, rescue units and train services as they are the lifeline to keep communities together and going.

These are just some of the measures that were introduced in the past that are considered effective. They have their advantages and disadvantages but they serve as an incentive to rein in on our luxuries and become more conservative in our use of energy resources. It will be an inconvenience and will cause many to rebel because of restrictions. Yet it is better to restrain ourselves and forego our luxuries now for the future instead of thinking of the now and pay for it later. For many who think this is communist, think again and ask your grandparents about the days where there were car-free Sundays and all you needed to do is walk or bike to your neighbors. You will be amazed at the story.

And this takes us to the picture by the Instagram page Ampelmann Berlin. It also has a good suggestion for saving energy, which is regulating the temperature in your house where there is less energy to use, while at the same time think of more energy efficient devices one can use . We have been quite innovative in that department, yet these gains have been negated with other things that waste energy- even using our Smartphone as the information is transmitted through IT centers which consume more energy than we think. It’s time we reconsider our consuming behaviors and consider cutting back. The sooner we do that the more we will understand what sacrifice means. And the more we sacrifice, we can appreciate what we have. It is something that we miss in these days, but in the case of the conflict in Ukraine and Russia entering a new Cold War with the West, it is time to reconsider, for our future and that of our children’s.

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