Saturday, 10 April 2010

Copenhagen Hangover

I've just been reading a Spiegel Online article Kopenhagen-Kater trübt Bonner Klimakonferenz but it's more than a bad headache we'll get if action isn't taken to keep the global average temperature to no more than 2 degrees. The reductions agreed may lead to increases of up to 4 degrees.

Umweltschützer kritisierten, dies reiche bei weitem nicht für das Zwei-Grad-Ziel. Nach Schätzung des scheidenden Chefs des Uno-Klimasekretariats, Yvo de Boer, laufen die angekündigten Minderungen auf einen Temperaturanstieg von 3,5 bis 4 Grad Celsius hinaus.

There have been attempts to discredit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) but this really is a reliable and self correcting scientific resource which has involved many hundreds of scientists. There are some strong sceptical voices which tend to present the IPCC evidence as political propaganda but that suggests ignorance of the IPCC process and the IPCC reports and the evidence they contain. Occasionally a mistake can be found in their reporting - Himalayan glaciers and how far parts of the Netherlands are below sea level - but such errors are few in a report of 3000 pages and readily corrected. Science always has to be open to correction and these do not affect the core conclusions that human activities, particularly burning fossil fuels, are warming the planet.

Weather events at the beginning of this year had many people confusing local weather with global climate. Regional data has more variability than global averages and so it is not hard to find places where temperatures have not risen (continental USA) and a few glaciers (New Zealand) which are growing not receding. It is also possible to select data over limited periods that appear not to agree with that for much longer periods. A decade is too short a period to establish a long term trend. The IPCC has rigorously analysed data over long time scales and on continental and global space scales to identify the significant trends and their likely causes.

There may be some attitude problems to overcome if the public are to accept the science. People sometimes don’t want to believe predictions that challenge consumption levels and lifestyles that are now regarded as normal in the developed world.
If you have opinions on climate change then please express them by leaving a comment or contribute to the Forum on Spiegel Online Umwelt - ist die Angst vor der globalen Erwärmung übertrieben?
For balanced briefings on climate change in English, take a look at Sir John Houghton's contributions available from the John Ray Initiative. I cannot give a recommendation for a German language source because I don't know whose views would carry the same weight as Sir John's.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Computers, Internet and Broadband

I decided to look at more Austrian statistics and found I can access a publication that tells you all me everything I could possibly want to know about IKT-Einsatz in Haushalten 2009 What is IKT? Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien, in other words, the same as English ICT - though ICT seems to be a term more used in schools than any where else in Britain.

The Austrian publication contains data about what people use the internet for - die Zwecke der Internetnutzung - about online shopping and the most popular internet purchases. You'll also find a wonderfully modern German phrase in use "E Commerce and Trust". If you like computers, statistics and learning German then you can have fun with this publication. Follow the link above for a summary of the publication and then decide whether you want to download it.

Women in Austria

Yesterday was international women's day - Internationaler Frauentag - and Statistik Austria published a press release about data that shows some interesting differences between men and women particularly in respect of changes in the educational achievement of women over the last few decades.

Bei den Maturaabschlüssen haben die 18- bis 19-jährigen Frauen beispielsweise ihre männlichen Schulkollegen bereits Mitte der 1980er Jahre überholt, 2007/08 wurden 57% der Maturaabschlüsse von Frauen abgelegt. An den Universitäten zeigt sich ein ähnliches Bild: 2007/2008 wurden 56% der Studienabschlüsse von Frauen erworben. Bei den Doktoraten sind Männer allerdings noch in der Überzahl - rund 58% der Doktoratsabschlüsse entfielen auf Männer.
Die Matura is the Austrian and Swiss equivalent of das Abitur. It has much the same meaning as the English "matriculation" - qualifying for university entrance. I wonder what lies behind the lower proportion gaining doctorates. Is there some form of discrimination operating? There are certainly some gender specific differentiation when it comes to professions and also how far up the career ladder women advance. The article also has something to say about "gender pay gap".

There is some useful material here if you want to practise vocabulary about increase and decrease and comparison. Or perhaps you might want to express some opinions about whether you feel women are still disadvantaged in society or about what might be done to reduce the risk of poverty for Alleinerziehende Frauen

Thursday, 8 April 2010

On your bike

Which are the 30 best loved cycle paths in Germany? To find the answers go the Radwanderwege article on Zeit Online. Here are some more questions about the text.

Was sind die drei Gründe, dass Radurlaub in eigenen Land das Korrekteste sind ? 

Warum sind die Radwege entlang der Flüsse die beliebsten?

I'm not sure I fancy cycling alongside the Elbe in the busy summer period. I prefer to cycle in country lanes with little traffic when I'm in England.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Cornelias DaF-Blog has some useful suggestions about using the interviews from the series Euromaxx Fragebogen. They all follow a similar structure and that makes them particularly useful as a medium for learning German. Structures like this give you a framework for note taking and note making. What I mean by note making is noting down your reactions to or questions about what you've heard alongside any notes you take to record content. The more ways you can find to engage with material the greater your ability to recall information and express opinions later on.

Cornelia's article is, of course, in German and would itself be useful as an exercise for translation into English. You'll find it at complete with a demonstration video.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Marriage less likely

Marriage seems to be less important in Germany now than it used to be. Amongst younger people just about a third of women and almost 40 percent of men expect to remain single for life. The likelihood of marrying is about half of what it was in 1980. The change is particularly marked amongst east German men. For more information read Deutsche sagen immer öfter "Nein" There is a further article under the heading Ehe verliert weiter an Bedeutung