Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villages

Collection with 25 media items created by Isabell Zipfel

03 Jun 2014 09:28

Despite Germany’s reputation as an environmentally conscious nation, the country has been quietly ramping up its production of brown coal in recent years. As mining companies buy up land and dig vast open-pit mines, natural areas are being desecrated and inhabitants of nearby villages are being forced from their homes. Now, residents in nine villages in the eastern state of Brandenburg fear for the future of their homes, as the very land their houses are built on is being bought-up by Swedish mining company Vattenfall.

Brown coal is considered by many to be the black gold of the 21st century. After oil, coal is the world’s most important energy source, which makes mining it a highly lucrative business. Germany is the biggest brown coal producer in world, far ahead of China and the United States. In 2013, they produced over 162 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from brown coal. Currently, Germany’s coal production is at a 25-year high and shows no sign of slowing down. Some coal industry experts are even calling the recent surge in production a “brown coal renaissance”.

Black Gold Clean Electr... Nuclear Cata... Fukushima Germany Coal Brown Coal Chian Usa Oil Energy Source Ecology Economy Sustainability Lausitz Nature Pollution Nuclear Power Nuclear Energy

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. These beautiful forests will probably be destroyed to make way for the coal mines. In the Lusatia region there are huge areas of nature reserves under threat from mining companies.

Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villages
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. These beautiful forests will probably be destroyed to make way for the coal mines. In the Lusatia region there are huge areas of nature reservations under threat from the mining companies.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. This is the sign in the marketplace of Kerkwitz, a tiny village under threat from the mining companies.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. Local farmer A.M. leans on his tractor. His own house, in Welzow, is not likely to be destroyed, but the house that belonged to his grandmother, where his daughter now lives, probably will be. Although A.M. owns large tracts of land, he will loose it all to the mining companies. Ironically, he has happy memories stemming from industrial pollution; when he was a child he and his friends used to bathe in a ditch full of water made warm by the waste from the local briquette factory. He says he used to love bathing in the warm water.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
11 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. Once the coal mines are no longer of use they are filled with water and turned into lakes. However, these lakes are contaminated with acidic pollution resulting from the coal mining. This sign reads: 'No entry. Danger to life. The lake is acidic, contaminated with metals, and there is a danger of falling in'.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A dilapidated house in Welzow.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. This is a map showing the villages that have been destroyed because of the coal mining. Since 1924, 136 villages have disappeared and more are bound to follow. The villages of Welzow-Süd, Proschim, Atterwasch, Kerkwitz, Grabko, Rohne, Mulkwitz, Mühlrose and parts of Schleife are to be destroyed.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villages
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. The desolation caused by the brown coal mine in Welzow.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. X marks the spot. A sign used by inhabitants of the villages, which are due to be destroyed, as a symbol of protest.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. K.M. is an inhabitant of Kerkwitz, a small village due to be destroyed in the mine expansion. He has lived there for 45 years, together with his wife and their cats, but they may soon be forced to move.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. W.M. was born and raised in Grabko, a small village near the coal field of Jänschwalde. He is very reluctant to leave his hometown, where his mother, brother, and sister also live. The Swedish power company Vattenfall is planning to expand its east German open-pit mines, meaning that Grabko will be dug away. The necessary drainage for the brown coal mine in Jänschwalde affects the ground water levels in the surrounding area enormously. The lake and the forest in the nature reserve, near Grabko, are continuously loosing dangerous amounts of ground water.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villages
By Isabell Zipfel
11 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A former glass factory in Haidemühl, a small village which has been destroyed because of brown coal excavation. In the former GDR (Communist East Germany), glass and brown coal were the largest industries. After the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the glass industry collapsed completely.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A.G. built his own house in the town of Welzow, where he lives with his wife and granddaughter. The part of town in which he lives will probably be flattened by bulldozers. He has reconciled himself with the situation and says that he will probably move to west Germany, where his son lives.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. R.Z. spent her childhood in Kerkwitz, a village which is under threat of being demolished. She moved back to the place where she grew up to retire in 2007. Kerkwitz is in an area of natural conservation and everyday R.Z. goes for a long walk to take a look at the lake and the forest, both of which will probably be destroyed when the mine expands.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. An open-pit brown coal mine in Welzow. The hunger for brown coal by power plants like the one in Jänschwalde, is fed by coal mines like this. Open-pit coal mining destroys the eco-system around it and renders land unusable once the coal mine is no longer operational.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. G.W.'s house in Welzow most probably wont be demolished, but if the plans go ahead, he will be living very close to the open-pit mine. He lives near the disused airfield, which is being bulldozed to make way for the mine, but he is not sure if this will force him to move away as well. In the meantime, his daughter has hung a sign up at his house, saying “To the beach”, because in a couple of years there will be a huge mine on their doorstep.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. This church, in the tiny village of Kerkwitz, will be bulldozed if the mining plans in the area go ahead. Swedish mining company Vattenfall has been buying up large areas of land for coal mining purposes in eastern Germany. Often, villages located on purchased land are forced to relocate, or significantly alter their ways of life when mining companies move in.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
11 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A former glass factory in Haidemühl, a small village which has been destroyed because of brown coal excavation. In former GDR (Communist East Germany) glass and brown coal were the largest industries. After the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the glass industry collapsed completely.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. The Jänschwalde Power Station, outside the small village of Jänschwalde, is the second-largest brown coal power-plant in Germany. Brown coal power stations like Jänschwalde require a constant flow of large quantities of coal to produce power.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. An abandoned house in the village of Haidemühl. In 2005, Haidemühl was abandoned to make way for mining activities. Its residents were relocated to a nearby settlement called Neu Haidemühl (New Haidemühl).

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
11 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. When the extraction of brown coal is complete, a process of ecological renaturation begins. The old pits are filled with water and turned into lakes. However these lakes are highly acidic and further contaminated with metals, left from the mining process.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
11 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A former glass factory in Haidemühl, a small village which has been destroyed because of brown coal excavation. In former GDR (Communist East Germany) glass and brown coal were the largest industries. After the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the glass industry collapsed completely.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
11 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A former glass factory in Haidemühl, a small village which has been destroyed because of brown coal excavation. In former GDR (Communist East Germany) glass and brown coal were the largest industries. After the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the glass industry collapsed completely.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
12 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. This German-made Trabant car (produced in Communist East Germany) has been abandoned in the forest next to Neu Petershain, a small village 2km from Welzow, that is also affected by the coal mines.

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Germany's Black Gold Threatens Villag...
By Isabell Zipfel
13 Mar 2014

Brandenburg, Germany. A sign in the window of a vacant shop in the town of Welzow. In recent years Welzow has seen a marked increase in the vacancies of shops and businesses. This is due to many people leaving for bigger cities in the region such as Cottbus, Berlin, Frankfurt (Oder) and even west Germany.