Energy, sustainability and climate change: There are hardly any topics that are currently more present in the minds of people. In the children's book "Globi and energy," author Atlant Bieri playfully explains the debate over energy and the climate and fascinates school classes with his shows about energy. A visit to the environmental scientist and author and his son Arin in Pfäffikon, Zurich.
Photos, text, video: Luk von Bergen
"… and at the end of the show, I'm on fire while standing on the stage," says Atlant Bieri. "This is the trick with the burning foam. Come, we'll show you how it works." Bieri does not take long to catch fire, and soon he and his twelve-year-old son Arin are burning – at least briefly (see video).
For several years now, the science journalist and environmental scientist has been travelling to school classes all over Switzerland with his Globi Energy Show. "The show lasts about an hour and a half and is about making energy visible, tangible and audible." Here a burning arm or a jet of flame, there an experiment with a thermal imaging camera or a home-made mini hot-air balloon – and the children's eyes are bound to light up. Especially as Bieri is on stage with Globi himself.
A few years ago, it was the cult bird that turned the scientist into a best-selling author overnight, so to speak. Together with the energietal toggenburg foundation, the Globi publishing house planned a non-fiction book for children on the topic of energy. "They were looking for an author and found me," says Bieri. The third edition of the book "Globi and energy" has been available since last spring. Other Globi books that Bieri wrote address topics such as robotics and micro-organisms.
Globi in the Primeo Energy Shop
"Globi and energy – about crude oil, climate change, and solar cells" is a non-fiction book for children. It was developed in cooperation with experts and the "energietal toggenburg" foundation. The book is temporarily available in the Primeo Energie online shop at the reduced price of CHF 25.90.
Topics of the energy revolution explained simply
From photovoltaics to fossil fuels, wind and nuclear power to climate issues: "Globi and Energy" takes a broad view and covers all the topics relevant to the energy debate.
The story begins with Globi's encounter with children who have had to flee their island due to climate change. We then start on a joint journey of research into the reasons for the change. "As an author, my task was to break down the content in an exciting and comprehensible way," says Atlant Bieri. "To do this, I had to cover all the technologies and relationships in detail."
"We have designed the Globi book with an emphasis on balanced content. Readers can, and should form their own opinions."
This involved a lot of research and writing, as well as developing graphic ideas for implementation with Daniel Müller, the illustrator. It took almost three years from the initial idea to the finished work. "While working on the third edition, we also updated the figures and data and revised the content of some chapters, such as the situation concerning plastic waste."
Non-fiction book for children: The aim of the Globi book is to explain how things relating to energy are connected.
Lots of positive feedback and some criticism
Atlant Bieri keeps getting feedback on his book. "The feedback is mostly positive. For example, from teachers who use the book to their lessons,” says the author. However, since the topic of energy is controversial, there was also some criticism when the book came out. Some publishers were asking whether Globi was being used for propaganda purposes. "We did, however, design the book with an emphasis on balanced content. We explain the pros and cons for each topic. Readers can, and should, form their own opinions. Globi simply provides the basic concepts and food for thought."
For Atlant Bieri, however, one thing is clear – many problems in the world have a direct connection with the energy situation. "Humanity is very strongly interconnected. The entire global flow of goods requires vast amounts of energy. Unfortunately, much of it is still heavily carbon-based." The consequences of excessive CO2 emissions are climate change, forest fires, drought, storms, acidic oceans, extinct species, and all kinds of pollution. "It is imperative that we take action on this issue."
Action is the key: Atlant and Arin want to inspire and raise awareness – while having fun.
With the Globi books, the energy shows, and the video blog he has together with his son for the science website higgs.ch, Atlant Bieri aims to explain the big and small relationships in a simple and entertaining manner – and not just on the topic of energy. "There are so many wonderful things and simple experiments that you can do with little effort outdoors that let you experience the laws of nature." Demonstrating, trying out, researching, wondering, understanding – with the constant aim of inspiring and raising awareness among young audiences.
Four questions for Arin Bier
We've already done a lot of things – built rockets, cultivated brine shrimp, visited robots, dissected octopuses and even buried cotton underpants to see how fertile the soil is. The results are five to seven-minute clips for children and young people.
Pretty time-consuming and exhausting. Before we even shoot, we develop the idea of the clip and write a script. Everything has to be perfect at the shoot – cameras, lights, and the set. Several people are involved, and shooting usually takes the whole day. It's fun, but also pretty exhausting. In the evening, I'm so tired that I just fall into bed and sleep straight away.
He's kind of a funny guy. It's always exciting to be out and about with him. He is very creative and has a lot of good ideas. For example, we are currently breeding mushrooms on "horse poo" – let's see what happens.
Maybe, but I'm not sure yet. I'm in the sixth year now, and I want to go to baccalaureate school. In my free time, I am very interested in nature – especially animals.
Arin Bieri shows us a current experiment consisting of horse manure and mushrooms.
Primeo Energie is also committed to entertaining and experience-based education. Primeo Energie Kosmos, a new science and adventure centre, is currently under construction on the site of the head office. From autumn 2022, the centre will make visitors more aware of sustainable and future-oriented approaches to the topics of energy and climate.
Text, photos, video: Luk von Bergen