Germany: We are the green champions, of the world

While other nations whine about climate change, Germany takes action

By Andrew Leonard
Published June 23, 2008 11:45AM (EDT)

Flipping channels on a Saturday evening, I found myself arrested by some shockingly erudite dialogue in a black-and-white movie starring Edward G. Robinson and someone who I vaguely suspected of being Orson Welles. The man who looked like a young Orson was saying some very nasty things about Germany at a dinner party. To summarize: All other civilizations had redeeming qualities, but not the Germans. He went so far as to advocate "a Carthaginian solution" to the problem posed by Germany's original, and immutable, sin.

At which point a glamorous woman, (played by Loretta Young) chuckles bemusedly, and says something to the effect of, "goodness gracious, you're talking about something [the complete and utter destruction of Carthage by the Romans] that hasn't happened in two thousand years!"

Orson replies with his own wry chuckle (I paraphrase from memory, again), "And I would remind you, we haven't heard much from the Carthaginians for those two thousand years." And he wins the point.

What has happened to modern filmmaking?! I can't remember the last time I heard anybody discussing Carthage and its ruin in a mainstream movie picture. Judd Apatow: white courtesy telephone. The laughs are there for the taking!

Anyway, I eventually figured out that the movie was "The Stranger" (1946) and it was indeed Orson Welles, playing the role of a Nazi spy who, after helping to mastermind the Final Solution, (clever, huh?), was hiding out as professor in New England, and Edward G. Robinson was the war crimes investigator hunting him down. But I fell asleep before the movie was over. Erudition often has that effect on me.

This whole prologue is a just a long-winded setup to a headline I just read in one of my news feeds, via ExpressIndia: "Germany is the Greenest Country."

According to the report by British Petroleum, while global energy consumption, driven by China, America and India, rose by 2.4 per cent in 2007, Germany managed to slash its use by 5.6 per cent in the same year as compared to 2006....

[The report came] days after the Government passed a new round of environmental laws in its effort to meet ambitious carbon dioxide reduction targets...

The laws, which target high polluting lorries and make energy saving designs compulsory for homes built after 2009, should allow Germany to shave 35 per cent off 1990 emissions.

Germany is the greenest country. I'll bet you neither Orson Welles or Edward G. Robinson saw that coming. You see, countries can change.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Environment Germany Global Warming Globalization How The World Works