What will it take to get plastics out of the ocean?

From drones to filters to gigantic cleaning arrays, innovators are working to reduce the threat thousands of tons of trash pose to marine ecosystems. But how realistic are their plans, and how much of a difference will they be able to make? Read my article on Ensia

An Earth Journalism Network Future Oceans Story, re-published under CC-BY on Vox, GreenBiz, and BusinessInsider. Many thanks to my editors Maggie Mazzetti (Earth Journalism Network) and Mary Hoff (Ensia)!

MIT Students Demand Divestment

Students of the Fossil Free MIT initiative at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been participating in an around-the-clock sit-in outside the university president’s office in an attempt to urge the administration to take more ambitious climate action. I visited students and supporting faculty on the 50th day of their sit-in and talked to them about their motivation „MIT Students Demand Divestment“ weiterlesen

Transition Struggles

Italian journalists Silvia Giannelli, Elena Roda, and I did a joint project on the energy transition in our countries. The research was co-funded by the Council of Europe’s Mediane program, allowing us to conduct interviews in both Italy and Germany.

Here you can read about the outcome of our research:

RTCC: The energy bridge – How EU countries justify fossil fuels
IPS News: The Time for Burning Coal Has Passed
IPS News: There’s CO2 Under Those Hills

Flight Hangover

When I was a little kid, I loved to travel and see new places. My father worked at the airport, and so it seemed only natural to fly to places during holidays. I remember we took two transatlantic flights and later mimicked the „Thank you for flying Ammmerican Airlines“ of the on-board video.

In 1994, at age 16, I hopped on a one-way trip to Boston to spend some time in Massachusetts. The location was completely out of my mind’s range. Massachusetts? Never heard of it. Yet it took only a few hours to get to Logan airport in Boston and from there to the rural, soft New England hills. Thousands of kilometres away, but accessible in a day thanks to that metal cabin over the clouds. My favorite class at the school was, ironically, ecology.

This week, delegates from allover the world flew to Doha to meet at the climate change summit. I stumbled upon an article by Laura Cowen on her 2010 „No-fly year“. She writes:

„The single most significant thing an individual can do to reduce their impact on climate change is to stop flying.“

In the article, Laura Cowen calculates her CO2 emissions of past year’s flights. Curious about how my travels add up, I calculated my flight CO2-emissions from that first solo trip until today.

The results, calculated on atmosfair’s website, are pretty staggering. „Flight Hangover“ weiterlesen

Bandi Mbubi on Conflict Coltan


„There’s nothing wrong with the technology. But we have to ensure that we are not financing the war“.

Tantalum is extracted from coltan and used in mobile phones. One of the places where the raw material is mined is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. Here Bandi Mbubi spent the first 21 years of his life. A student activist, Mbubi suffered persecution and fled the country two decades ago. He is the director of a centre for the homeless in London.

With his campaign „Congo Calling„, Mbubi raises attention for the ongoing conflict in the Congo, fuelled by the mining of the so-called „conflict minerals“ coltan, tin, gold and tungsten. He believes a global outcry is needed so that manufacturers of mobile phones and other applications will stop to buy materials from conflict mines in the central African country and fill the pockets of those who commit atrocities.

Trailer to Frank Poulsen’s documentary Blood in the Mobile:

Rodolfo Soler on Saving IT Energy

Rodolfo Soler is a 23-year old mechanical engineer from Spain specializing in thermal power plants. He believes that we waste a lot of energy by failing to chose the right devices for the tasks we want to perform: For simple tasks like browsing the web or watching a video, we don’t need powerful computers anymore. For computers that use more energy than we need, Soler proposes the technique of „underclocking“ – lowering the settings in the computer so it uses less power.

In his talk „Green Computing and Underclocking: Saving energy“ Rodolfo Soler explains how to underclock devices – which is easier for some and harder for other brands. Apple unfortunately makes underclocking very hard, Soler says.