Opinion: Hambach Forest a battlefield for the planet's future

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Opinion: Hambach Forest a battlefield for the planet’s future

Deutsche Welle

Opinion: Hambach Forest a battlefield for the planets future
Opinion: Hambach Forest a battlefield for the planet’s future. picture-alliance/dpa/O. Berg
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Nearly a half-century ago, a young American army officer named John Kerry returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam to testify before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. After detailing the atrocities, the injustice and the pointlessness of the war, he said: “We are asking Americans to think about that, because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Read more: German search engine Ecosia offers to buy Hambach Forest

The activists who have been occupying the remaining hectares of Germany’s Hambach Forest, it seems to me, are asking a similar question that should shake consciences in our time. What will be the last pieces of European nature destroyed in pursuit of what we now recognize to be a monumental error — in this case not a colonial war, but the pursuit of cheap energy even at the cost of destroying the planet’s climate?

It’s a question that can be asked around the world — many of us have engaged in civil disobedience trying to ask it in connection with Canada’s tar sands and America’s coalfields. Pacific Islanders have used traditional canoes to blockade Australia’s coalfields, which are the largest in the world.

But in Europe, where large-scale exploitation of fossil fuels got their start centuries ago, it’s the brave tree-sitters of Hambach who are asking this question in its most poignant form.

Their adversary, RWE, a utility company, is the continent’s largest carbon emitter. North Rhine-Westphalia, where the forest sits, spews more greenhouse gases than any other part of Germany. It is, for Germans, the heart of the fossil fuel beast.

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