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08/15/2019 17:42

Greta Thunberg's voyage across the Atlantic: The rediscovery of unpredictability

Thomas Joppig Kommunikation
Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum - Leibniz-Institut für Maritime Geschichte

    Greta Thunberg travels across the Atlantic in an ocean-going sailing yacht. Her crossing will take about two weeks. "The astonishment at this unusual journey also shows our changed understanding of mobility on the world's oceans," says Professor Dr. Sunhild Kleingärtner, Managing Director at the German Maritime Museum / Leibniz Institute for Maritime History.

    "One can understand large parts of the shipping history as a fighting history. As an ongoing confrontation of mankind with the elemental forces of the sea. Shipping was and is associated with the attempt to wrest something from the sea. Be it the way to faraway countries, be it trade routes, scientific findings, fish or, more recently, oil or locations for wind turbines.

    For millennia, wind was the only driving force for shipping. How the trip went depended on it. Quiet, turbulent, or even life-threatening. With industrialisation and steam navigation in the 19th century, voyages became more predictable. Sailing instructions were replaced by detailed nautical charts, emigration and cruise tourism started. Tide-predicting machines became - as a kind of analog computer - strategically important sources of information in the First World War. Today every cruise has its meticulously planned course, every large port its closely timed lay times. Every delay is perceived as a deviation from the norm - and at best route changes due to severe storms remind us as passengers that we are dependent on the forces of nature for all our travel plans.

    Seen in this light, the MALIZIA II is an extremely suitable ship for Greta Thunberg and her commitment to climate protection. Because it is the merit of the "Fridays for Future" movement to have brought a simple and uncomfortable fact back into the public consciousness: We are dependent on nature - even if we often repress it in our high-tech everyday life. The fact that the young people who have been on the streets for months for climate protection not only meet with a lot of approval, but have also become a real enemy for some people, is obviously also due to the fact that the protest not only questions political action but also familiar living and consumption habits.

    But anyone who immediately senses an attack on civil liberties should realise that climate change could result in far greater restrictions on freedom. Industrialisation has made mobility more predictable - but the consequences of emissions for our lives are anything but predictable. In other words, Greta Thunberg's crossing may be turbulent - but that's nothing against the turbulence she warns of."

    Press contact:
    German Maritime Museum
    Leibniz Institute for Maritime History
    Thomas Joppig
    Head of Communication
    T +49 471 482 07 832

    About the German Maritime Museum / Leibniz Institute for Maritime History:
    The German Maritime Museum / Leibniz Institute for Maritime History (DSM) in Bremerhaven has set itself the task of exploring the relationship between man and sea and making it possible to experience it in exhibitions. It is one of eight Leibniz research museums in Germany. With more than 80 employees and trainees and around 8000 square metres of covered exhibition space, it is one of the largest maritime museums in Europe. The DSM is currently in a state of flux and combines a building renovation and the construction of a research depot with a comprehensive new concept for all exhibition and research areas. During this phase, which lasts until 2021, the building will remain open - with a varied programme, changing special exhibitions and events. The more than 600-year-old Bremer Kogge and the museum ships in the outdoor area can also continue to be visited. Research projects at the DSM are supported by renowned national and international funding programmes. As an attractive workplace for young and professionally experienced talents in maritime research, the DSM maintains a variety of cooperations with universities, colleges and non-university research institutions.

    The museum is supported not least by a total of around 3000 members of the "Förderverein Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum e.V.", which was the driving force behind the opening of the museum in 1975, and the "Kuratorium zur Förderung des Deutschen Schiffahrtsmuseums e.V.", the "Board of Trustees for the Promotion of the German Maritime Museum", which is now accompanying it on its course for the future.
    For further information:

    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists, Scientists and scholars
    Environment / ecology, History / archaeology, Oceanology / climate, Traffic / transport
    transregional, national
    Miscellaneous scientific news/publications

    Prof. Dr. Sunhild Kleingärtner, Managing Director at the German Maritime Museum

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