By: Oliver Sefrin ///
A VISIT TO THE GERMAN PAVILION at Expo 2012 sounds a bit like a modern version of the world-famous science-fiction novel 20,000 Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne. Anyone setting out to explore the largest eco-system on earth during a virtual diving trip in the model control station of a research submarine could easily feel like Captain Nemo on board the Nautilus. The exploratory trip to the depths of the oceans is one of the attractions of the German Pavilion at the World Fair in Yeosu, South Korea, from 12 May to 12 August 2012. More than 100 nations, international organizations and companies are guests this year in South Korea. Yeosu is expecting about eight million visitors in the course of Expo 2012. The fair, which is an intriguing mixture of a world of experience and a technological-scientific exhibition, is taking place under the motto: “The Living Ocean and the Coast – Diverse Resources and Sustainable Activities”.
Germany is implementing the Expo focal point in its pavilion in a highly entertaining and informative way with the help of three different themes: Coasts, Habitat and Treasure Trove. This involves taking visitors on a multimedia trip from the coast to the deep sea. “Our broad range of topics begins with aspects such as coast protection and over-fishing of the world’s seas, goes on to the impact of climate change on the oceans and also takes a look at the future, for example, with models and visions related to the most ecologically sustainable way of exploiting resources on the sea bed.” This is how the concept of the German Pavilion is described by Dietmar Schmitz, top representative on the pavilion and head of the Fairs Policy / Expo-Participations department at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. With an Expo contribution coordinated by that Ministry, Germany is not only presenting itself as an attractive and hospitable travel destination, but also illustrating its know-how and expertise: “There are numerous companies and institutions in Germany”, says Schmitz, “that are worldwide leaders in the fields of oceanography, coast protection and the development of innovative technologies for the maritime sector.”
Environment-friendly ships, tsunami early-warning systems, off-shore wind parks, tidal power plants and deep-sea research probes: on their tour of the German Pavilion visitors get to know just some of the technologies that have been developed in Germany. They can also test their knowledge in a Germany Quiz and experience a beach scenario on the German North and Baltic Sea coasts: a multimedia sand dune landscape complete with roofed wicker beach chairs. An introductory film takes the visitors to the coast, showing them how people live there and telling them about the big German ports. In the third theme section of the German Pavilion, Treasure Trove, the visitors travel to the sea bed – and into the future. An animated expedition in a futuristic deep-sea mobile takes them to the year 2050 and to three deep-sea mining plants. Here they discover more about the potential and future possibilities of an ecological submarine exploitation of mineral ores, methane hydrates and other resources, and get to hear about a submarine project headed by the Leibniz Institute for Marine Science in Kiel (IFM-GEOMAR). This institute, together with 30 partners from the fields of business and science, is developing new technologies both for extracting natural gas from methane hydrates on the sea bed and for safely storing carbon dioxide from power stations and other industrial plants.