Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

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Snapshot: Start with a Bang


For many, a New Year celebration would not be the same without fireworks. But have you ever noticed what happens to all that leftover packaging wrapped around the rockets and bangers? It seems that an awful lot falls to the floor and gets swept up along with the broken bottles and spilt food that litter the city streets on New Year’s Day. This is just one pile yet to be collected in Munich, where this year 140 employees have already helped gather 50 tonnes of post-party rubbish, an increase from last year’s figures. That’s a lot of waste for a couple of hours of wonder and dazzling lights…

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Snapshot: RCC Olympic Table Tennis


Combining a well deserved break from the computer, green surroundings, and fresh air, some RCC’ers recently held their own table tennis competition! They took advantage of the warm weather and Munich’s outdoor facilities to share in the spirit of the Olympic Games. Thanks to all those who took part and a special congratulations to gold medalist Alan MacEachern!


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Snapshot: As Far As the Eye Can See


Mudflats in coastal North Frisia at low tide. Photograph: Brenda Black.

The low-lying islands and shores of Germany’s western coast are as much water as they are land, subject to both frequent storms and the daily ebb and flow of the tides. For humans, living in this landscape means living with the weather: although humans have long shaped the landscape, using dikes to claim the land from the sea, it is a precarious balance, and storm floods regularly submerge all but the highest points of the islands. At low tide, much of the water between the islands is transformed into miles of mud laced with deeper channels into which the receding water flows. Continue reading

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Doctoral Students Attend Workshop


Photograph: Munich Re.

Environment and Society doctoral candidates Ruhi Deol and Vikas Lakhani participated in a workshop entitled “Risk, Livelihoods, Capacity, Recovery, Insurance, and Tourism” on 24 May 2016, organized by Prof. Dr. Gordon Winder of the Geography Department at LMU, and the RCC. They presented their research projects to representatives from the Munich Re Foundation and visiting professor Dr. Mukesh Kanaskar, a RISK award winner from the All India Institute of Local Self-Government, Mumbai. Ruhi and Vikas are both members of Prof. Winder’s Disasters Research Group.

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Snapshot: Hochschultage Science Slam


Contestants and organizers of the “Expert Slam: Alternative Wirtschafts-Quickies” on Thursday, 9 June. Photograph: Annka Liepold.

The Hochschultage Munich, cosponsored by the RCC, took place in the second week of June this year. Following a stimulating talk given by Oliver Richters at the RCC’s weekly Lunchtime Colloquium, speakers and spectators gathered in the evening for some creative wordplay at the Expert Slam. Contestants and organizers gave short, original talks on alternative economic approaches, and included representatives from Cradle to Cradle, Transparency International, and the Social Entrepreneurship Academy Munich.

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Snapshot: Lunchtime Colloquium

LC 19 May

RCC fellow Pey-Yi Chu presents her work at the lunchtime colloquium: “Conquest versus Adaptation: Permafrost and Socialist Industrialization in the Soviet Union.”

The RCC’s weekly lunchtime colloquium series is always a hub of activity at the center. Here people meet, greet, and discuss their interests over a buffet lunch before watching a presentation given by an RCC fellow or guest speaker. The talks often focus on the speaker’s most recent project or research interests. Each talk is followed by a question-and-answer session designed to stimulate discussion and allow the audience to engage and develop their understanding of the presenter’s academic research. Developed as an outreach program, the lunchtime colloquium series allows researchers to bring their work to a wider audience; the talks are accessible, aimed at non-specialists, and are all completely free and open to the public.

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Snapshot: Beach Litter in a Sustainable Exhibition

By Katrin Kleemann

Examples of recyled materials used to construct the exhibition displays. Photographs: Katrin Kleemann, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

A few weeks ago, “Snapshot: Zero Waste?” featured an exhibition exploring global waste production. Today’s feature looks at what happens to that waste. As part of its Planet Oceans Initiative, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich hosts one of London’s first sustainable galleries: the “Environment Gallery.” It’s sustainable because all of the displays are made from recycled coffee cups, yoghurt pots, plastic, and crushed CDs. On show is the permanent exhibition: “Your Ocean,” which focuses on marine waste. Huge amounts of waste end up in the ocean; this pollution doesn’t simply disappear but becomes part of the water cycle. Among the top ten items of beach litter in the UK are everyday products such as crisp and sweet wrappers, sanitary items, caps and lids, as well as cigarette butts. The exhibits raise awareness about the many issues threatening the marine environment in the twenty-first century. Knowing about these issues can help and empower people to make informed decisions about their lifestyle and environment.