American Views Abroad

Thursday, April 26, 2007
A positive note on global warming is the return of orchids in Germany. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports that the change in climate in combination with strict environmental laws have led to an increase in wild orchids that were once found in Germany as well as those orchids moving north from warmer places. in Wissen under Rueckkehr der Koeniginnen . The same page also offers eleven photos of some of these orchids under Bildstrecke.

The New York Daily News reports the Mayor of New York City is going to start forcing office buildings to shut off their lights at night to save energy. A move in the right direction that should have happened years ago. The positive outcome might be the ability to see the stars at night. The mayor has offered an ambitious plan to cut the use of cars in the city, provide more green space in the outer boroughs, get people to walk more. Sounds almost European. Hamburg is a wonderful example of a city that provides marvelous parks, woods, dikes, river paths for walking and biking, all within city limits. Since parking is hardly available these days, public transportation or biking is the best way to get around.

There have been reports about a few US cities making an attempt to ban the hand out of plastic bags when shopping. Another European solution since plastic bags have not been provided free for very many years. People are encouraged to bring their own bags when going shopping and if a basket on the arm seems provincial, sturdy canvas book bags are worth looking for. They can carry everything from milk to fruit and veggies.

Coffee-to-go (almost always in English) is a craze that has taken over here recently. A pity since those cups can only be thrown away and what is more pleasant then lingering, even if it's only for five or ten minutes, over a cup of coffee. Near Hamburg airport there is a Coffee-to-fly stand which is rather amusing. Actually you can't even take a bottle of water on a plane these days. On the other hand, Starbucks is trying its luck among all the other, rather good, upcoming coffee shops. It's good to see a revival of a fine tradition.

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