NewsVon Hirschhausen: "We could have it nicer"

Von Hirschhausen: "We could have it nicer"

According to Eckart von Hirschhausen, the corona and climate crisis cannot be seen independently of one another. “The crises are interrelated,” says the doctor.

Berlin (dpa) – In his new book “Mensch, Erde! We could have it so nice, ”describes Eckart von Hirschhausen, why action against the climate crisis is so urgent.

“The next ten years will decide how the next 10,000 years will be for our civilization,” says the cabaret artist, author and TV presenter. In an interview with the German Press Agency, he explains what health consequences he is particularly worried about – and where he sees the most promising levers for changing direction.

Question: The end of the corona crisis seems to be in sight. With two other crises, global warming and species extinction, will it happen so quickly if we decide: Well, really, we’ll turn the wheel around now?

Answer: That would be nice! You can vaccinate against viruses. Not against heat. I have a button on my book: “Three crises for the price of two”. What looks like a marketing gag means: The crises of our time are closely related. And unfortunately a lot has already been missed and lost. A species we eradicated never comes back. Evolution has realized its best ideas through trial and error over millions of years, and we are destroying this book of life before we have even read it, let alone understood it. If the climate crisis is Mother Earth’s fever, then extinction is her dementia. The next ten years determine how the next 10,000 years will be for our civilization. We don’t have to save the climate – we have to save ourselves.

Question: What are the health consequences of the climate crisis that make you particularly concerned?

Answer: Air pollution is the worst worldwide, kills more people than smoking and also massively shortens our lives in Germany. The dirt in the air depends largely on the burning of fossil fuels: coal, diesel, oil. This creates fine dust, which, among other things, acts as a kind of taxi for viruses into the pre-damaged lungs. Covid-19 is particularly difficult in places where the air is the dirtiest. As I said: the crises are interrelated. However, we are still discussing the energy transition as if it were primarily a topic for engineers. The big advantage of wind turbines and solar systems is that they don’t stink when in use. We could have it really nicer – and much healthier.

Question: What do you personally do without that you probably would not have done without ten years ago?

Answer: To a lot of meat, to domestic German flights and to answering in detail all questions that miss the core of the topic: The big levers are not in a bad conscience, but in better politics.

Question: But the fact remains that “renunciation” is not a word that people like to hear. Can renunciation also be profit? What is there to win?

Answer: Lots of quality of life! We could emphasize much more clearly what advantages we ourselves have if we act for climate protection: bikes instead of cars, trains instead of planes and vegetables instead of meat. As a doctor, I am interested in the health benefits of these measures. I would rather inhale the exhaust fumes from ten cyclists than from an SUV. And in a world where around two billion people are overweight and one billion malnourished, there should be better distribution for the good of all, right? The idea of a “Planetary Health Diet” combines what is good for the body with what is good for the planet. And above all, that means less meat, less sugar and dairy products, more nuts, pulses and colorful vegetables. In this way, millions of civilization diseases could be prevented. And heart attacks and strokes – I happily do without them! Don’t you?

Question: When I bring great cooked vegetables to the barbecue evening instead of the usual meat. Will my neighbors and friends join in? Are changes in behavior contagious?

Answer: Yes, and how! People are neither purely good nor bad, we are social beings and do what is well received by others. Five years ago you could brag about a weekend trip to New York, today you could boast eggs from your own chickens. We are right in the middle of a “social tipping point”, a marginal issue is reaching the middle of society, and politicians are suddenly outdoing each other with reduction targets.

It is also a good thing that politicians wake up, because I cannot take responsibility for ensuring that rail travel in Germany finally works as well as it does in France, Japan or Switzerland, that sustainable agriculture is promoted and that there is finally an effective CO2 Price there. This does not require eco-ethics, but science-based regulatory policy and laws.

We need more political and public commitment from all of us, but especially from the health professions. That’s why I founded a new foundation “Healthy Earth-Healthy People”, hired great employees and am networked with many NGOs, medical organizations and ministries. We can do it together or not at all.

Question: In spite of the seriousness of the subject, is there something to laugh about in your book?

Answer: Yes, of course, as in all of my books, I incorporate parts of my current stage program, there are lots of photos, funny graphics, quotes and I don’t hide the fact that we are all stuck in our contradictions, which is often funnier than for others for ourselves. So despite all the cheap consumer criticism in the text about “stuff”, I also admit that I am amassing a lot more than I need. Not as a messie, but as I lovingly call it, as a “collector without a specific subject area”.

ABOUT THE PERSON: Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen (born 1967) studied medicine and science journalism. For more than 20 years he has been a cabaret artist, author and TV presenter in the media and on stages in Germany to convey medical knowledge in a humorous way. For several years he has also been committed to a medically and scientifically sound climate policy and in 2020 he founded the “Gesunde Erde – Gesunde Menschen” foundation.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210518-99-640909 / 2

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Eckart von Hirschhausen

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