Filme Für die Erde Report

What I learned during the Filme Für die Erde festival (19 September 2014).

The festival

  • 6 movies
  • 14 Swiss cities
  • about 8000 people

The film “Sand Wars”

  • Sand is a scarce resource!
  • We consume 15 billion tons of sand per year. This speed is not sustainable.
  • The biggest use for sand we have is the construction business.
  • The only resources we consume more of is sand and water.
  • Desert sand is made round and smooth by the wind, therefore it can’t be used as a construction material. Dubai has to import sand from
  • Australia (among other countries)!
  • The international borders move along with the coast lines. Singapore bought sand from a lot of countries to expand its borders.
  • The sand Mafia is the most powerful criminal organization in India
  • Sand smuggling is real!
  • Beaches around the world are eroding because there’s less sand in the Oceans.
  • Sand originates in the mountains, but all the dams are preventing the sand to reach the oceans. In the US they’ve been building 1 dam a
  • day since the declaration of independence.
  • Beaches are barriers that protect the coastal civilization.
  • There are islands in the Maldives where the beaches have disappeared.
  • The perversity is that lots of the apartment buildings are built for speculation and empty.
  • In the EU politicians are talking about water and agriculture, but not sand.
  • There are alternatives to sand but they are not yet economically competitive.
  • It might be that sand can be recycled out of glass. See the Glass Beach Phenomenon.

Urban Farming


In festivals like this it’s possible to find lots of information about local projects, and meet many environmentally-minded people and get into interesting conversations. Some of the things I learned:

  • Bad Cop, Good Cop approach to big companies. One no profit threatens their image, an other helps them to keep it by consulting them about how to change to be more environmentally friendly.
  • In Stanford, in the nineties, when the world didn’t know about it, there was no doubt about climate change.
  • Skol Foundation – by Ebay founder Jeff Skol, they invest in social entrepreneurs with game changing, proved approaches. Harward meetings? Skol founded unconvenient truth??
  • The day after tomorrow movie actually wanted to be a realistic film, but nobody believed it
  • Alliance for climate protection
  • Could a transition town movement be started in Zurich?

Organic Agriculture

  • Permaculture
  • Jeoff Lawton
  • A success story: The recovery of the Loess Plateau in China. Documentary by John Lew, Jörgen Vögele from the world bank. 8 years of work. Absorbed lots of CO2!
  • Ecosystem reconstruction

Overcoming Climate Change Denial

  • Denial is real and leaders in the field ask themselves how it’s possible.
  • Getting familiar with the science can be frightening, overwhelming and traumatizing.
  • Ways to overcome fear and denyal:
    • Be confronted with solutions, not only problems. Show the people what they can do. Focus on:
    • Self-identification as a citizen who actively takes part of the construction of our civilization, no matter what there is to do. Dedicate a fixed amount of time and ressources to that.


Approaches worth supporting:

  • Renewable energy
  • Planting trees
  • Organic Agriculture – binds carbon back into the soil

Global Consciousness

Section for the people interested in spirituality.

  • How to raise consciousness?
  • Amma, spiritual leader. In Winterthur in October. President of India gave 11 months of his salary to her.
  • Meditation and selfless action are both spiritual practices.