ARD movie ‘Great Drought’: ‘Climate catastrophe has arrived’

Burning forests, dry rivers no longer navigable, greyish brown meadows and fields, farmers who ran out of water to feed their animals: in the past few weeks, many people have probably felt eerily reading Maja Lunde’s bestselling book “The History of Water” I remembered– Fantasy about Europe without water.

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Now some dystopian images from the novel have become a reality, and there’s no denying it: we’re running out of water. This summer, it becomes quite clear how important water is as a resource for nature and therefore for humans as well. On Monday evening (August 29), the ARD channel broadcast a whole evening about the unstable situation. In prime time, before Frank Blasberg’s “difficult but honest” talk on the same topic, “The Story at the Beginning: The Great Drought” – a movie that shook people up – was shown.

Germany groaned under several heat waves

For weeks, Germany has been groaning under several heat waves, and the rains that nature and farmers long long for have not materialized in large parts of the country. On August 15 this year, the Rhine in Kaup, Rhineland-Palatinate, was only 32 cm, the historical lowest summer level in the past 52 years.

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A clear indication of a future in which periods of drought as a result of climate change become an increasing problem. In ARD’s disturbing report “The Story at the Beginning: The Great Drought,” now also available in the media library, acclaimed director Daniel Harish, along with a research team, investigates how long the waters will last and how droughts in this country will change. .

“This climate catastrophe has arrived in full.”

The message for the important contribution, which is worth watching, is clear: it cannot continue like this, the groundwater level is dropping. “This climate catastrophe has arrived in full and now we have to deal with it,” explains groundwater ecologist Hans-Jürgen Hahn.

The world knows that meaningful data is especially important at the start of a crisis. But from the official side, from the responsible federal states, there is no. Hahn reports that in the Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, about 80 percent of groundwater metering points have been removed from monitoring over the past 20-25 years—primarily for cost reasons. That’s why the ARD scientific campaign “Where our streams and puddles disappear” was created. Nationwide, people reported looking for places where streams and ponds were drying up – there were more than 1,400 bodies of water in total, most of them very small and very small bodies of water.

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Streams, ponds and forests as ‘early warning systems’

But this is where the lack of water is first noticed. “In the landscape’s water balance, everything is connected to everything else,” Han knows. Streams, ponds and forests are “early warning systems” in this context – and they sound the alarm. “Everything is really red.”

The Forest Early Warning System presents a particularly disturbing picture: drought everywhere you look. In Siegerland, the already bare areas are referred to as “moonscape”. The new drought is a death sentence, especially for parts of the flora and fauna of this country: if animal and plant species cannot adapt quickly enough to the new conditions, they are threatened with extinction.

Do cities become concrete deserts?

Dorothea Zepke-Source is a forest owner who says her spirit is “rooted in the forest”. That is why it hurts her so much when she sees the forest die little by little. She’s part of the generation that “everything will go to dogs in a few years, that’s so crazy,” she said in a trembling voice. Drought-related diseases, fungi and beetles also affect their trees. At worst, the loss of trees also means the loss of existence. Her colleague Antje Lange still pins her hopes on the young plants. “Maybe they still fit in,” but: “The old can’t do that!”

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Daniel Harish’s film shows: If water conditions change drastically, this can only be countered by a drastic change. After all, until now only the drainage of cities and fields has been planned – the question now is: how can we conserve water in the area? “We just have to completely rethink that,” says marine biologist Holger Schindler.

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The land must adapt to the lack of water

It is no coincidence that Germany is preparing for more droughts, and contingency plans are being made in other countries. Without a doubt, the whole country has to adapt to the water shortage. Not Just Transforming Agriculture – What If Wheat Stops Growing? The construction industry is in demand, and people’s daily lives must also change.

Experts believe it will be worse in urban areas than in the countryside. Rarely in any other country can there be as many enclosed spaces as Germany, artificial irrigation is already the norm in cities, even for small trees. When Norbert Vosswinkel of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf green space office is walking around the park in his Berlin district, gloom is already echoing: “In a few years he probably won’t exist like this,” he says. People will need every drop, so they may have to put up with concrete deserts.

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