Editorial: Germany, drought country? – Spectrum of science

This year I gave up quickly. Tasked with keeping the rhododendron from drying out, sprinkling our lawn, keeping the raspberries alive – in short: making sure that our garden stays in its usual green state. In 2018 we had still watered with all our might against the dry phase and in 2019 we had defended ourselves against the drought for a few weeks with hose and watering can, we have now resigned. Because everything indicates that Mediterranean-style summers like this one will become the new normal in the future. It’s better to adapt the planting to the lack of rain and the heat, instead of sinking cubic meters by cubic meters of drinking water into the ground and still having to watch the green getting yellower and browner. In any case, our irises are doing splendidly, as are the fig and peach trees, which acknowledged the dry and hot conditions with record harvests.

Ultimately, however, this is little consolation for the fact that Central Europe is in a dramatic phase of upheaval: away from the water overflow area towards the impending water shortage. As Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Professor of Resource Management at the University of Osnabrück, explains from p. 46, Germany is one of the countries in the world whose water supplies are declining the most. But she also presents well thought-out countermeasures that can prevent an escalation. Politicians are called upon to consistently enforce this – just like each and every one of us.

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The two Voyager space probes are scientific examples of what people can achieve if they have the will to do it. Launched in 1977, the missions were originally intended to work for just four years, but they proved far more successful and durable than initially hoped, and are still sending data from distant regions outside our solar system today. The cover story of this issue documents the sheer unbelievable success story from page 12 onwards. My hope: if such a technical and logistical masterpiece is possible, we should also be able to get our water balance under control.

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