Naturefriends International (NFI) awarded the winners of the international Photo Championship 2014, on the topic of "Energy − in harmony with nature": the winning photographs were taken by Austrian and German photographers. The award ceremony took place on 1 December 2014 in Vienna, together with the presentation of the National Photo Championship 2014 of Vienna Naturefriends photo groups.
Facebook-Advent calendar on the Photo Championship 2014: www.facebook.com/nfint.org
More than 1,000 fascinating photographs in four categories were submitted to the NFI Photo Championship 2014 "Energy − in harmony with nature". Impressive places of energy in nature were captured from manifold perspectives, as were the different forms of energy generation and energy saving.
"The beauty of these special places of energy has once again brought home to us that nature is irreplaceable, and has shown that we should experience the environment consciously and with interest and plan our excursions responsibly. Photographers all around the world substantially contribute to making the diversity and characteristics of nature visible and thus raise public awareness for the environment," says Manfred Pils. The president of Naturefriends International, together with Rudolf Schicker of the Social Democrats Vienna City Council and Provincial Parliament Club (SPÖ-Rathausklub), and Josef Kaindl, deputy district chairperson, awarded the prizes to the winners in Vienna.
The exhibition of the NFI Photo Championship 2014 takes place at the same time as the exhibition of Vienna Naturefriends photo groups on the occasion of the National Photo Championship 2014. The exhibitions can be visited from 1 December 2014 to 19 December 2014, during the opening hours of the Volkshochschule Favoriten (Arthaberplatz 18, 1100 Vienna). Free admission.
1st place"Inselbaum" – Robert Sommer | Germany
"We found this single tree at a lonely lake in Sweden. The tree and the small island created such an atmosphere of tranquility that we had dinner there and then stayed until sunset. It’s an idyllic place to recharge your batteries with energy for life." RS
2nd place "Chiginitra" – Vitaly Popkov | Ukraine
"This beautiful atmosphere was captured in the "Chiginitra", which lies in the mountainous parts of Crimea. Although this is a very far-off, secluded place without real roads in the area, it is very popular among photographers. It is also a place of interest for people interested in esoterism because they are convinced that it possesses extraordinary energy. I have often been there and every time I have again been impressed by the natural beauty of the ravine, which not only recharges my batteries, but also inspires my creativity." VP
3rd place "Sundown tholey" – Carsten Schröder | Germany
"The so-called 'Wortsegel' (word canvas), a steel plastic, can be found in Tholey-Sotzweiler in Germany. 'Wortsegel' is also the name of a writing and poetry contest which was introduced by the artist, Heinrich Popp. It's a point of attraction and the destination of many walks. Whenever I am there, I'm at ease with myself, and such moments during sunrise or sunset give me strength. This picture was taken on an evening with a beautiful sunset. Birds always choose to sit on the highest point there, and the raven added the final touch to this photograph." CS
4th place "Strahlender Baum" – Norbert Breuer | Austria
"This tree grows near Ottensheim (Austria), close to the Danube. On this autumn day, I had gone out early to take a walk in the mist. Suddenly, the sun broke through and the contre-jour made the tree radiate − the energy became visible. I was lucky to experience such a special moment. The tree is still there." NB
5th place "Hohneklippen" – Alexander Klutzny | Germany
"This photograph shows the sun set behind the rocks known as "Hohneklippen" in the Harzer Hochmoor, a raised bog in Germany. In the legends and myths of the region, these rocks feature as energising places full of mythic energy." AK
1st place "Nebelwald" – Barbara Seiberl-Stark | Austria
"These centuries-old stinkwood trees grow around Fanal, just below the plateau of Paul da Serra in Madeira. This place has an almost magical power of attraction. The gnarly, bent trees gave the impression of being frozen characters of a fairy world which − as soon as dense fog lay over them − came to life. Magical silence surrounded them, no sound penetrated the dense fog. It would not have been surprising, had goblins or elves crawled out of the cracks and holes of these weather-worn giants. I sat down on a tree stump for a while and took in this feeling of "otherworld" before I set out to take photographs." BSS
2nd place "Cipressi" – Massimo Pelagagge | Italy
"Cypresses grow on the highest point of a hill in Tuscany, Italy. The clear sky in the background and no noise makes this place the representation of the strength and harmony of nature." MP
3rd place "Das Ende" – Robert Sommer | Germany
"I found this tree in southern Sweden by the sea. Somehow, it made me realise the transience of life." RS
4th place "Schlammloch" – Franz Hammer | Austria
"Solfatara and fumarole can be found in northern Iceland, near Myvatn lake. This mud hole was one of the fumarole holes. Everything was grey and drab, but still this thing was somehow alive. It seemed as though the Earth was having the hiccups and it emitted sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger bubbles of mud. It created most bizarre shapes. The hot mud was spouted out as high as a meter, but this minuscule crater with its constant eruptions seemed more harmless that it actually was." FH
5th place "Sea Life" – Mohammed Abd El Kader | Egypt
"This photograph shows the differences of organic life in the Red Sea − the life of the fish under water and the life of the birds in the sky. Everybody is trying to find their own way − this is the energy of life." MAEK
1st place "Nachtschicht" (lignite-fired power station – wind-power generator) – Martin Seraphin | Germany
During the combustion of fossil fuels, a number of pollutants are released into the air: soot, dust and benzene are health-damaging; hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide lead to the formation of ground-level ozone; nitrous gases and sulphur dioxide harm the forests, contribute to the acidification of the seas and soils or, in the case of carbon dioxide, have a greenhouse effect. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), fossil fuels remain predominant in the global energy mix (although energy sources that emit less CO2 are used increasingly). They are supported by subsidies that amounted to $ 523bn in 2011, which is a 30% increase compared to 2010, and is six times more than subsidies for renewable energies.
For a sustainable supply of renewable energies, wind power is important in Europe. Wind exists everywhere, unfailing and free of charge, and can be converted into electrical energy without emission of pollutants. Until the end of 2012, 282,430 MW worldwide were generated from wind power. In the European Union (EU-27) until the end of 2012, wind turbines were installed with an output of up to 105,696 MW. This makes the European Union the top of the list with 39% in wind power, followed by Asia (especially China) with around 35% and North America with 24%. In Europe, the main producers are Germany (31,332 MW) and Spain (22,796 MW). At the end of 2012, Austria generated 1378 MW, which accounts for 5% of the whole power generation. // NF
2nd place "Ölpumpe - Windstrom" – Heinrich Winkler | Austria
Crude oil remains the most important energy supplier. In order to exploit new oil occurrences, the oil industry ventures into ever more remote and very sensitive areas, for example into the arctic seas or the deep sea. They very seldom take into account the environment, climate or population. Soils and bodies of water are contaminated, forests cleared and people treated brutally.
Before planning to erect a wind turbine in a sensitive region, it is imperative that all stakeholders, especially residents, regional civil society initiatives and environmental organisations be consulted. In principle, Naturefriends support wind power, but only if its expansion does not come at the expense of the environment. Forbidden zones and suitable zones need to be clearly defined, this is where a cross-border authority is necessary which also takes into consideration the protection of birds and − especially − bats. // NF
3rd place "Stromernte" (nuclear power plant – wind-power generator) – Martin Seraphin | Germany
Nuclear energy only accounts for about 14% of the worldwide electricity consumption and less than 3% of the global energy demand. The risks of nuclear accidents and the production of highly radioactive waste are disproportionate to the small energy turnover in a short period of time. Nuclear power is dangerous and superfluous! Naturefriends oppose nuclear power and demand an exit from the EURATOM Treaty. The financial means made available by this exit are to be earmarked for national research and development of alternative energies.
Reflecting on the advantages and disadvantages of wind power, it becomes clear that no form of power generation needs as little space as this one. The actual surface taken up by wind turbines is very small, the investment costs pay off soon. Time-worn turbines can be dismantled easily, and there is no problematic waste that needs to be disposed of. In conclusion: a clear "yes" to wind power, but only if there is a binding supra-regional planning with clear forbidden zones and if all stakeholders are involved in the planning of new wind turbines. // NF
4th place "Wind – Gas" – Maria Bein | Austria
Shale gas is natural gas found trapped in clay stones, which has become increasingly important in America and now in Europe, too. In consequence of the increase in oil prices, it becomes lucrative to exploit unconventional occurrences. Shale gas is extracted by hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") of the rocks. These extraction methods − fracking of shale gas or oil shale mining − are likely to contaminate the ground water. Naturefriends International therefore supports a ban on shale gas and oil shale extraction.
Modern wind turbines can be up to 210 metres high and can be seen from a distance of up to 40 km. They thus change the landscape. In the Alpine region, it is especially ridges and peaks where high wind speeds can be achieved − but these are also places that can be seen from a distance. Naturefriends therefore take a critical stance on the erection of wind turbines in sensitive Alpine regions. Wind power plants need to be cautiously planned, also for reasons of landscape protection. // NF
5th place "Pipes - Wie der Wind" – Jonas Beck | Germany
At the moment, 80% of the global energy need is met by burning the fossil fuels coal, crude oil and natural gas. The dependence on and the use of fossil fuels worldwide are on the increase. During the combustion of fossil fuels, CO2 is released which was trapped millions of years ago. The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere thus increases dramatically, which is first and foremost ascribed to the use of fossil fuels and changes of land use.
A transition toward a sustainable energy supply is urgently needed. On the one hand, we need to generate our power as much as possible from renewable energy sources (sun, wind, water, geothermal energy or resources that grow back), on the other hand we need to stop wasting energy − we have to save it and use it more efficiently. The term "energy transition" has come to designate this aim of using more renewable energies and committing to energy-efficiency. // NF
1st place "Light off" – Carsten Schröder | Germany
The term "energy efficiency" is often used in connection with saving energy. The two terms are repeatedly used as synonyms, but there is one difference: saving energy means to have a lower consumption of energy, e.g. by turning off lights and heating in unused rooms. Energy efficiency means to use energy more efficiently, e.g. by insulating a house so that it has the same temperature while consuming less energy, or by using co-generation technologies that generate both heat and power, or by using thermal discharge in production. // NF
2nd place "Red Train" – Neda Racki | Croatia
91% of the energy consumption in transport is generated from fossil oil. In order to secure mobility on a long-term basis, the resource consumption of transport and the harm done to the climate need to be reduced drastically. The best way of doing this is to avoid transport. Walking and cycling do not produce any CO2, a train emits about 10% per passenger and kilometre of the CO2 emissions of cars. // NF
3rd place "Lichtquelle" – Frank Schmidhofer | Austria
In order to use renewable energies, it is imperative to have customised solutions that are adapted to the respective region or country, as well as cross-border cooperation to use the power of the grid most efficiently. Without substantial reduction of energy consumption and without an increase in energy efficiency, the energy transition will fail. It cannot be achieved only by using renewable energies. // NF
4th place "Shortcut" – Zvonko Radicanin | Croatia
Many experts are in favour of car-free cities with more recreational space, more public transport and an attractive infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. In the future it could be normal not to buy a car, but mobility packages; they combine car sharing and electric cars, hire bikes and a ticket for public transport. Mobility apps constantly monitor the timetables of busses and trains as well as the road traffic and plan the best routes to get to work, to school, to friends' houses etc. // NF
5th place "Null-Liter-Auto" – Erich Stiglitz | Austria
In Austria, every fourth car journey is shorter than 2 km. Walking or cycling don't only save CO2 emissions, but are also beneficial for the health. For longer journeys one ought to use public transport if possible, or share a car. If taking the car is inevitable, go more slowly: going at a speed of 90 km/h consumes only half of the same journey at 120 km/h speed. Smaller cars are easy on both the purse and the climate. // NF