Surprising stories from unusual places. With ideas too big for a single episode, The Compass presents mini-series about the environment and politics, culture and society.
Can Germany Save the World?: Stepping up on the world stage
Because of its war history, Germany remains frightened of being assertive on its own. Yet it holds the key to enabling Europe to become the third global pole to China and America. This programme looks at Germany’s current place in the world: the facts, the psychology and the consequences. John Kampfner visits Duisburg in the gritty Ruhr area with its ambition to become “China City”. He goes to the former East, where businesses are desperate for closer ties with their former ally, Russia. He discusses the dilemmas Germany faces in its dealings with Russia: tensions over the poisoning of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and questions over the completion of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. He looks at the pressure Germany is under to increase defence spending, and asks whether the country is ready to be more assertive and to take its place on the world stage.
And then there is the question of what Germany represents. Today, one quarter of those living there have a non-German ethnic background. It used to be the crossroads between East and West. Now it’s a magnet for the global south. Germany looks and feels different. This final programme assesses whether, through its foreign policy and increasingly diverse population, Germany could become the standard bearer for liberal democracy in a more uncertain and often authoritarian world. How confident is the country as it looks ahead to a time without Angela Merkel at the helm?
Produced by Caroline Bayley
Can Germany Save the World?: Building a post-Covid society
As governments around the world rethink their economies and societies after Covid, addressing the environment, towns and cities and the way we live, is it possible that Germany is closer to finding the answers?
In this programme, John Kampfner looks at where they’re getting it right, and where they are going wrong. The contradictions are many. Why is a country with one of the most powerful and longest-established green parties struggling to meet its climate emissions targets? Given their strength in engineering and science, why have they fallen behind on some of the basics of tech? And in spite of the emphasis on social responsibility, why have there been so many high-profile corporate scandals?
There’s another curiosity. It’s sometimes called 'entschleunigung' - work-life balance. But it’s more than that. Germans have generally shunned what they see as the sharp-elbowed culture of the Anglo-Saxon world. Where else would the disused Tempelhof airport in the centre of Berlin be kept for the enjoyment of local roller-bladers, cyclists and walkers rather than be developed into real estate? And what other capital city is toying with the possibility of giant property companies being forced to hand back private apartments to the state? Could this more eccentric form of communal capitalism present a model for the future?
Can Germany Save the World?: Mutti and her crisis management
A year ago, many Germans were dismissing Angela Merkel as beyond her sell-by date. Her motto, "langsam aber sicher" (slow but sure), was seen as outdated. Covid has transformed that. It is not that she has particularly changed, it is just that the world has come to respect traits that had previously been derided. Germany has now dealt with three crises with extraordinary agility – from unification 30 years ago, to the influx of a million refugees in 2015 and now the pandemic.
John Kampfner looks at these crises and how Germany and Merkel have responded to them. Through the experiences of people across the country, he finds that there is much that can be learned from the way Germany faces its challenges. Is Angela Merkel’s true strength as Germany’s Chancellor her ability to handle a crisis?
Climate Wars: Central and Northern America
Will Robson investigates the impact climate change is having on human security in Central and Northern America.
He examines how global warming is leading to mass migration across the region, and how a spike in freak weather events is undermining basic social infrastructures.
He also hears why the avocado has become a “conflict commodity” in Mexico, and how climate change threatens the resilience of the USA’s power grid and its nuclear weapons arsenal.
Climate Wars: The Sahel
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report identified the Sahel as a ‘climate change hot spot’, a region where human security is particularly threatened by the effects of global warming.
Will Robson explores the area’s war-torn history and investigates how climate change is acting as the catalyst to migration, violent disputes over water and the growth of brutal armed extremists. He hears from those caught in the middle of conflicts in Mali and the Lake Chad region and discovers how drought and rapid desertification are fanning the flames of violence.
Produced by Simon Jarvis and Tom Roseingrave. A Whistledown Production for the BBC World Service.
Climate Wars: The new Cold War
Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at more than twice the global average, and as the ice pack melts, battle lines are being drawn between global superpowers eager to lay claim to newly uncovered mineral resources and trade routes.
Will Robson examines the ratcheting up of tensions between Russia and the United States, as a growing number of military bases, missile tests and military exercises threaten the area’s stability.
He also reveals how China has entered the fray – labelling itself as a “near-Arctic state” and investing in icebreakers and scientific research in an effort to gain access to the “polar silk road” – an increasingly ice-free and potentially profitable trade route across the Arctic ocean.
Is the area set to become the battleground for a new Cold War?
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fascinating and continually reinventing itself
Full of speculation and bias
It guess all MSM are now corporate media with political agenda.
An excellent podcast, well-researched and reported. Most enjoyable!