How can we cooperate across borders to tackle climate change?

While climate change seems to be intangible, nowhere and everywhere at the same time, it is entangled with everything and everyone. Hence, the goal of Berliner Gazette’s 20th anniversary initiative MORE WORLD was to better understand and grasp the causes of climate change through entanglements of ecosystems with communal, state and global structures – and ultimately to explore possibilities to tackle climate change from within such interconnections. If not only the devastations of climate change arise from a global web of interdependencies, but potentially also the capacities to collectively counter global warming, then how can we progress from passiveto active entanglement? Meaning, how can we progress from the everything-and-everyone-is-connected-condition as one which tends to paralyze us to a state of interconnectedness that enables new forms of cross-border cooperation? And how can we cultivate cooperative practices for the interplay between communal, state and global approaches to adapting to climate change? To explore this, the Berliner Gazette organized the 20th edition of its annual conference. Here, we are presenting the results: videos, projects, audios and more.

Videos

Conference round up

Sudesh Mishra (poet and philosopher)

Anja Kanngieser (political geographer)

Sujatha Byravan (scientist)

Clara Mayer (activist)

These videos were produced by the Berliner Gazette team: Leonie Geiger, Magdalena Taube, Andi Weiland, and Krystian Woznicki. More videos from the MORE WORLD project, featuring Abiol Lual Deng, Virginie Gailing, Sudhir Chella Rajan, and Alexander Karschnia, can be found in our vimeo album.

Harsha Walia (activist and writer)

Marta Peirano (journalist)

Nikki Maksimovic (sustainability expert)

Projects

Taking Radical Responsibility



Climate justice relates to the fact that those who are least responsible for anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the ones most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. There is only about a decade left to move away from a path leading to avoidable injustice, and there are different ways in which the global community can begin to address this challenge. In a three-day process, the "Justice" workshop came up with different projects that are linked by the question of how to take radical responsibility. Check out these projects by clicking here.

Everyday Encounters with Climate Change



How to connect climate narratives with data? How to visualize the willingness of the many who want to make a difference when it comes to global warming? Using data visualization techniques, two groups at the "Eco-Data" workshop came up with engaging projects. First, a multimedia story that is inspired by local news about everyday encounters with the impact of climate change. Second, a data-driven decisions project that focuses on the willingness of individuals to actually make a change. Check out these projects by clicking here.

Countering Climate Crisis with Humor



Ways of living relate to personal choices, while the conditions of life relate to one’s socio-cultural context. Regarding the climate crisis, it has become clear that both need to be radically transformed within a short span of time. The "Lifestyles" workshop realized that the conditions of life cannot be challenged directly but can be shaken up through irony, humor and other ways of expressing shame. Three different projects with that single purpose were developed. Check out these projects by clicking here.

Towards the Unknown



The "Counter/Knowledge" workshop experimented with a highly structured series of exercises borrowed and amalgamated from Social Presencing Theatre, La Pocha Nostra, among other traditions, to locate what exactly counter-knowledge could mean in the context of the climate crisis. The process lead to the realization that remaking relationships with all humans, as well as the non-human world, is the path and destination to counter-knowledge. Check out the resulting project by clicking here.

Real-Life Climate Action



What real-life projects actually exist when it comes to fighting climate change? How can intersectional solidarity between ongoing initiatives be created? These were some of the starting questions for the "Resources" workshop. One of the resulting projects looks at #HambiBleibt – the protest movement against coal mining in Germany. Another takes up the idea of games to raise awareness of ongoing struggles as well as the disproportionate effects of global warming on the Global South. Check out these projects by clicking here.

Audios

Discussing Climate by Learning to Listen



The public assembly was surrounded by thermal blankets glistening in gold, a reminder of the ongoing struggles around the globe: The blankets signal a state of emergency, whether they are covering hypothermic human bodies on Mediterranean shores, being used by climate protesters occupying public spaces at night, or as banners at anti-fascist rallies in German cities. The golden blankets linked the speeches and discussions of the opening talk, and they seemed to intensify the bristling energy of the panelists Anja Kanngieser (Australia), Clara Mayer (Germany), Sudesh Mishra (Fiji), and the audience.

To listen to the talk – moderated by Abiol Lual Deng – click the play button.

Infrastructure and Climate Justice



Things have changed since the publication of the Whole Earth Catalogue and its motto: Access to tools! Since those early days of the Silicon Valley the tech-driven ecological dream has turned into a nightmare. Today, the challenge is to talk collectively about the role of technology, networks and infrastructure in the context of the struggle for climate justice. Most importantly, it is necessary to understand and rethink the role of common and communal struggles to create infrastructure in just ways. Nikki Maksimovic (UK), Virginie Gailing (France) and Marta Peirano (Spain) engaged in an intense discussion on the second night of the conference.

To listen to the talk – moderated by Jaron Rowan – click the play button.

The Realities of Climate Displacements



In her keynote Sujatha Byravan (India) highlighted the notion that the ones who are already feeling the consequences of global warming (sea level rise, extreme weather events, etc.) are those who have contributed least to the emission of greenhouse gases. In her response Harsha Walia (Canada) spoke out against hypocritical policies of the North such as the UN global compact that ostensibly work against climate change but in fact are mere covers for keeping people in the Global South or forcing them into labor migration. The closing discussion of the conference showed that climate justice means addressing the connectedness of climate displacement with all forms of migration.

To listen to the talk – moderated by Jennifer Kamau – click the play button.

The Immortal Stranger



The Immortal Stranger is a beautiful and subversive flowering tree commonly found in the tropics. Also known as the Tulipan Africana, this botanical anti-colonial freedom fighter grows quickly, and, when it takes root, it is almost impossible to suppress. Because of its profound example of how to thrive and provide vengeful care within, against and beyond the ravages of climate crisis, the Immortal Stranger was named president of The University of the Phoenix. At the grand opening of the MORE WORLD conference, an initiation ceremony was staged: The Order of the Immortal Stranger. Representing The University of the Phoenix, a group of post-apocalyptic trash collectors invited the audience to abandon their smartphones and join a global secret society for interspecies cooperation. In doing so, they challenged the notion that adults as we know them will spearhead adaptations to climate change.

To listen to the audio recording of the performance, click the play button.

Plant Ensemble



What is the knowledge of non-human life forms? How can this knowledge be accessed and mobilized in the climate crisis? These are profound questions, and ultimately they go beyond human cognition – and yet they can be approached in an experimental manner. For example: An amplified plant can be turned into a musical instrument. Biofeedback can generate music, and Xin Xin's "Plant Ensemble" did just that. To harness the acoustic properties of a plant, the artist applied contact microphones and amplified their projection and tone, connecting arduino micro-controllers and speakers to plants. The resulting sound and video performance was staged on the second night of the MORE WORLD event. Inspired by John Cage’s cactus instruments and MIDI Sprout, Xin Xin – using local plants she found at the ZK/U – made use of the electrical conductivity in plants to generate unexpected, randomized sound.

To listen to the audio recording of the performance, click the play button.

The Matter of the Soul



The polar regions are at the forefront of the climate crisis. During a residency in the Arctic, artist and researcher Kat Austen conducted interviews, took photos, collected video images, gathered field recordings with hydrophones and microphones. She gathered data on the ship's movement and passage, the coordinates at which everything happened, and, last but not least, she gathered water samples. After bringing the water back, Austen created new instruments with which to play the water. To this end, she hacked scientific equipment that measures the properties of acidity and conductivity – a measure of water's saltiness. The outcome of this endeavor is "The Matter of the Soul", a musical and sono-sculptural work exploring human empathy with the process of dispersal in the Arctic. Austen performed one movement of this symphony at the closing event of the MORE WORLD conference.

To listen to an audio recording of the performance, click the play button.

TEXTS

Interviews 1

Please read the following interviews with the key note speakers, artists, moderators, and participants of the conference: University of the Phoenix about responding to the climate crisis with a global secret society for interspecies cooperation; Sudesh Mishra about indigenous cosmologies as sources of inspiration vis-à-vis environmental havoc; Anja Kanngieser about her research on the populations and environments of Pacific islands such as Nauru that will be wiped out by sea-level rise resulting from climate change; Marta Peirano about internet infrastructure and climate change – and how we can change the game; Sujatha Byravan about the challenges for planetary cooperation in the face of climate change-induced mass migration; Kat Austen about artistic research on ice, climate change and migration at the North Pole; Sabine Niederer about online debates on climate change; Abiol Lual Deng about challenging responses to climate change that go hand in hand with revitalizing the idea that "the West is the universal norm".

Interviews 2

Please read the following interviews with people who have inspired the development of the conference: Sara Vigil about the effects of climate change in Africa and Asia – and the role of 'Fortress Europe' in this context; Déborah Dankowski about the problem that "there are too few people with too much world, and too many people with way too little"; Tobias c. van Veen about the possibility of exo-planetary politics and Afrofuturism in the context of current conversations about climate change; Kerry Bystrom about countering 'world shrinkage' by turning to the silenced realities of the South Atlantic; Avery F. Gordon about communal practices at the utopian margins.

Beiträge auf Deutsch

Lesen Sie in deutscher Sprache folgende Beiträge von den Keynote-SpeakerInnen der Konferenz: Sujatha Byravan: "Steigende Meeresspiegel: Wie bereitet man sich auf Klima bedingte Migrationen vor?"; Yvonne Volkart: "Klimawandelkomplizen, radikale Kollektive und das entgrenzte Kommunale"; Marta Peirano: "Infrastrukturen mit kommunalen Technologien aneignen – und dem Klimawandel entgegentreten!"; Kat Austen: "Sound der Klimakrise: Wie erlangen wir Zugang zu verborgenem Wissen über die Erderwärmung?"; Déborah Dankowski: "Die Klimakrise als Neuanfang, oder: Die vielen Enden der Welt willkommen heißen"; Abiol Lual Deng: "Menschenrechte und Klimawandel: Wir müssen den Diskurs über Erderwärmung universalisieren"; Gabriele Schliwa: "Klimaproblem gelöst? Design Thinking und die Digitalisierung menschlichen Denkens und Handelns"; Sabine Niederer: "Die Beschränkungen der Social-Media-Plattformen liegen auf der Hand". Weitere Beiträge hier.

Photos









Walking, cooking, listening – multiple modes of working together were explored at the MORE WORLD conference. The photographer Norman Posselt captured some of the most precious moments. All the photos presented here and above were taken at the event. They can be shared under a Creative Commons license (cc by nc sa). Please look at more of Norman's great photos in this flickr album.





Public Talks

Whose World is Ending? | Grand Opening | Oct 10 | 7:00 p.m.



It’s the end of the world as we know it. But whose world is actually ending? The climate debate has a massive problem: Its discourses, scenarios and prognoses largely cater to the interests of the Global North. Three speakers will provide new perspectives: political geographer and radio maker Anja Kanngieser (Australia), whose work on imperiled Pacific islands urges us to cooperate on the frontlines of climate change, high school student and environmental activist Clara Mayer (Germany), who dares to confront the corporate and political elites with the uncomfortable truths of climate change, and the poet and philosopher Sudesh Mishra (Fiji), who mobilizes indigenous cosmologies as sources of inspiration vis-à-vis environmental havoc. Moderated by Abiol Lual Deng (South-Sudan/US), who is an international relations expert and humanitarian policy consultant.

This talk will take place at ZK/U on Thursday, Oct 10 at 7:00 p.m. Free entry.

In a special opening performance the art collective The University of the Phoenix (Canada) will be offering participants an opportunity to join “The Order of the Immortal Stranger”: a global secret society for interspecies cooperation.

Networking Against Climate Change? | Oct 11 | 7:00 p.m.



The myth that digital tools are green by default and will save the planet has been debunked. Yet what is the potential of using digital networks to fight the climate crisis? Three speakers will tackle this question: activist Virginie Gailing (France), who is hacking the climate discourse online and offline with the do-it-together movement Extinction Rebellion, sustainability expert Nikki Maksimovic (UK), whose work with the Berlin-based Internet search engine Ecosia helps to plants trees by donating 80% of its surplus income for reforestation initiatives, and journalist and technology expert Marta Peirano (Spain), whose book “El enemigo conoce el sistema” explores how to fight climate change with communal technologies. Moderated by Jaron Rowan (Spain), a reseacher and activist.

This talk will take place at ZK/U on Friday, Oct 11 at 7:00 p.m. Free entry.

In the warm-up performance “Plant Ensemble”, the artist Xin Xin (US/Taiwan) will be using biofeedback in plants to synthesize sound.

How to Give Power to Climate Exiles? | Oct 12 | 3:30 p.m.



By the year 2050 there may be about 200 million people on the move due to climate change, with no option of returning to their homes. What should the world community do to empower climate exiles – in humanitarian and political terms? Two speakers will look for answers: the scientist Sujatha Byravan (India), whose pioneering research explores the politics of climate refugees and activist and writer Harsha Walia (Canada), whose work in the field of migration intersects with climate justice struggles. Moderated by Jennifer Kamau (Kenya/Germany) who is an activist and researcher and facilitates a migrant network called International Women Space.

This talk will take place at ZK/U on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 3 p.m. Free entry.

As a warm-up to this public talk, the workshop groups will pitch the results of their three-day process: position papers, multimedia stories and experimental projects.

After this talk, please join the 20 Years Berliner Gazette Gala. Choreographer and food artist Pepe Dayaw (Philippines) will be cooperatively creating a Bibimbap-Badubap (a Korean rice dish), amplifying the chopping sounds and remixing them into a jazz concert while cooking. Media artist, composer and researcher Kat Austen (UK) will perform a multimedia symphony based on her residency at the North Pole.

Workshops

Setting



The BG annual conference will take place at the ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics on Oct. 10-12, 2019. To investigate the complexities of climate change, the BG will create a three-day program with workshops, performances and talks. The workshops – arguably the heart of the conference – will bring together activists, researchers and cultural workers from more than 20 countries. The BG will invite key actors to form the core of the workshops, and enables the general public to register via the call for registration (details in bar on the right).

Cooperative Processes



To tackle the key issues of the BG annual conference, five parallel workshop tracks will take five different approaches to cooperative practices dealing with climate change:
Eco-Data, Counter/Knowledge, Justice, Lifestyles and Resources (descriptions see below). The workshop groups will communicate before the conference in order to flesh out the workshop design collaboratively. Led by experienced group leaders, participants will be invited to come up with possible answers to the questions raised by the MORE WORLD initiative. The results will be made available as online resources via berlinergazette.de: they may include position papers, multimedia storytelling projects and collections of ideas. Check the workshop results from the previous BG annual conference and find photos from the workshops here.

Registration + Details



The call for registration targets (up-and-coming) hackers, journalists, activists and researchers. A limited number of participants will be able to register for one of the five workshops (Eco-Data, Counter/Knowledge, Justice, Lifestyles or Resources ) by contacting the following email: info(at)berlinergazette.de. The deadline is September 1st. Registration fee: 50 Euro. Please note: As the five workshops will be running in parallel, each participant will be invited to commit to a single track. On October 10 and 11, the workshops will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On October 12, the workshop groups will present their results to the general public. The conference hosts will provide catering throughout the entire conference, including a warm lunch.

Eco-Data

Issues: Eco data about climate change and climate crisis. Environmental monitoring vs. “surveillance”. Politics of data visualization. Lessons for climate change adaptation from Fukushima 2011. Cases of climaps.eu, IIDj.net and Safecast.org. Moderation: Tara Tiger Brown + Michael Prinzinger Guests: Vamsidhar Akuraju, Georgiana Bere, Sean Bonner (tbc), Carlo De Gaetano, Daphne Dragona, A. Erdem Şentürk, Anna Meïra Greunig, Dia Kayyali, Katrin Kämpf, Eirini Malliaraki, Sabine Niederer, Zoran Pantelic, Lira Ramadani, Andreas Schneider, Leonard Schrage, Kavya Sukumar, Çağrı Tașkın, Niloufar Vadiati, Yvonne Volkart.

Counter/Knowledge

Issues: Non-quantifiable, embodied knowledge and indigenous wisdom. Non-human knowledge (e.g. plants, environment). Seed vault and knowledge commons. Moderation: Sabrina Apitz + Cassie Thornton. Guests: Kat Austen, Nina Eschke, Alina Floroi, Jenny García Ruales, Iskra Geshoska, Gosia Jagiello, Avi Khalil, Holger Kral, Anja Krieger, Stefanie Linner, Vanessa Macedo, Sudesh Mishra, Shintaro Miyazaki, Noel David Nicolaus, Jaron Rowan, Kunitake Saso, Gabriele Schliwa, Brett Scott (tbc), Dzina Zhuk.

Justice

Issues: Climate justice struggles and social conflicts around climate change. The politics of those whose countries will be destabilized, rendered unlivable or destroyed due to climate change. Climate change-induced migration and human rights. Moderation: Masha Burina + Nina Pohler. Guests: Rosamund Brennan, Jose Miguel Calatayud, Fran Ilich, Anja Kanngieser, Brigitte Kratzwald, Nastassia Martin, Dusica Parezanovic, Marta Peirano, Kevin Rittberger, Sotiris Sideris, Maria Stenzel Timmermans, Elena Veljanovska, Mihajlo Vujasin, Harsha Walia.

Lifestyles

Issues: Modes of living and working together in an environmentally sustainable fashion vs. “our lifestyle is not negotiable” (Bush). Entanglements between alternative lifestyles, emerging cultural practices and climate change. Politics of swarming: people in different regions and social positions cooperate to reshape dominant lifestyles. Moderation: Claudia Núñez + Cristina Pombo. Guests: Andrei Bulearcă, Martin Conrads, Peter Hermans, Riho Higashida, Oliver Frey, Inga Lindarenka, Darija Medic, Hans Meves, Sudhir Chella Rajan, Natalia Skoczylas, Susanne Stoll-Kleemann, Koji Takahashi, Beata Wilczek.

Resources

Issues: Vital resources in times of climate change. Resource crisis due to extractive capitalism in regions most affected by climate change and resource crisis due to climate change. Interdependencies between extractive capitalism and accelerating climate processes as well as mass migration. Moderation: Edna Bonhomme + Abiol Lual Deng. Guests: Miriam Arentz, Rémi Cans, Antonia Burchard-Levine, Friedrike Habermann, Jens Isensee, Aude Launay, Monisha Martins, Juliane Rettschlag, Julie Snorek, Nicolay Spesivtsev, Ingo Tomi, Jaroslav Valuch, Xin Xin.

Intro

0

In an introductory essay, Berliner Gazette founding editor Krystian Woznicki describes the ideas of the MORE WORLD initiative and presents the questions to which we wish to invite readers to contribute. Here we present an excerpt. So, stay here and read on.

1

Today, climate change is one of the most pressing planetary challenges. It appears to be something that surrounds, envelops and entangles us, but it is literally too large to be seen and understood in its entirety. While climate change seems to be intangible, nowhere and everywhere at the same time, it is linked to everything and everyone, not least to migration and digitalization. The millions of people who are fleeing their homes in the Global South are ever more often on the run due to climate change and related disasters. Research has also provided initial insight into how global warming may already influence armed conflict.

So, increasingly, mass movements of migrants and refugees are fleeing their devastated homes and destroyed life-worlds also because of wars breaking out due to climate change, such as in the Syrian conflict. There is more to come. And we must prepare ourselves for further entanglements. We also need to take notice of further interdependencies, which are becoming more complex and dynamic, for example, in the wake of digitalization.

2

Digitalization is an ongoing worldwide process, including the expansion of cloud infrastructure: the installation of fiber optic cables, the erection of data centers and server farms, etc. This infrastructure has a geopolitical dimension that is rarely discussed, which materializes itself at border controls, in immigration decisions or drone attacks, and is also linked to global warming. The political geography of cloud infrastructure transcends the sovereignty of nation-states and apparently also suspends the responsibility of nation-states for the influence of cloud infrastructure on global warming. Meanwhile, higher temperatures cause stress for cloud infrastructure, while an incessant increase in ‘cloud activities’ leads to higher temperatures through the rising heat of server farms, etc.

3

In the midst of the environmental infrastructure crisis, political spaces are emerging in which civil and human rights are muddled and seem to be criss-crossed. The people most affected by this, are those who wish to assert their right to freedom of movement. Thus, migration is becoming a ‘risk game’ in which markets and states that want to benefit from the ‘mobile workforce’ shift the risk solely to those who are among the most vulnerable in this ‘game’: refugees, asylum seekers, paperless and stateless persons, etc.

4

How can we find ways to make heavier the apparent ‘lightness’ of cloud infrastructure that accelerates climate change and passes judgment on people’s lives? How can cloud infrastructure be appropriated by existing networks of solidarity? How can cloud infrastructure be undermined and replaced by alternative communal structures that, last but not least, can also support vulnerable people on the move? What kind of cooperative practices and tools are useful for the interplay between communal, state and global approaches to the planetary challenges at hand?

These are far-reaching questions. But somehow we need to get started. If we want to meet the complexities of globalization at the height of their current development, we must first recognize that climate change, migration and digitalization are interlinked geopolitical complexes that can only be managed appropriately if tackled by an interplay of communal, state and global organizational structures. But this is easier said than done. After all, escapism abounds.

5

In the course of widespread escapism (e.g. "climate change does not exist!" or "we need to tighten our border controls!"), access to the world is shrinking. That is, not only does access to the world as it is disappear, but also to the world as it could be.

World shrinkage has two interconnected dimensions. Firstly, complex problems such as climate change are suppressed. Secondly, the diversity of the social, as it also arises in the course of migration, is suppressed. Everything is supposed to become clear and easily manageable – can that go well? That’s highly doubtful. After all, the problematic complexities at hand are brought about by the diversity of the social and vice versa. This said, complex problems cannot be overcome without the potential of social diversity. Therefore, it is vital to create more access to the We, which always also means creating more access to the world – and vice versa.

This text is excerpted from Krystian Woznicki's introduction essay. You can read the entire text in German on Berliner Gazette. The complete English version is made available by our media partners: Mediapart in France, openDemocracy in England, transversal in Austria. A Japanese version is available here and a Turkish translation here. Publications in Belarus, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and USA are forthcoming [links available soon]. Feel free to re-publish or translate the text (CC-BY-4.0).

Information

The Berliner Gazette (BG) is a nonprofit and nonpartisan team of journalists, researchers, artists and coders. We experiment with and analyze emerging cultural as well as political practices. Since 1999 we have been publishing berlinergazette.de under a Creative Commons License – with more than 1,000 contributors from all over the world – as well as organizing conferences and editing books.

About BG

Latest BG projects include 2018: Ambient Revolts – BG con | 2017: Signals – Exhibition | A Field Guide to the Snowden Files – Book | Friendly Fire – BG con | 2016: Tacit Futures – BG con | 2015: UN|COMMONS – BG con | 2012: BQV. Büro für Qualifikation und Vermögen – Documentary | 2006: McDeutsch – Book

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