Joint Statement by Scientists Calling for an Ecological Sustainable and Participative Economy

- issued in advance of the G-20-Summit on 7/8 July 2017 in Hamburg, Germany -

“It would be a bad thing for science if later generations were not permitted to add new insights on the knowledge of their predecessors.”
(Georgius Agricola, De Re Metallica, 1548)

 “How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor his products be, compared with those accumulated by nature during whole geological periods. Can we wonder, then, that nature’s productions should be far ‘truer’ in character than man’s productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life?”
(Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, 1859)

Today, climate change, extinction of species and environmental destruction are the gravest existential challenges threatening the lives of all human beings irrespectively of their different cultural and political conditions.

In view of this, we call on the business, scientific and political communities to switch to an ecologically sustainable and participative economy in order to reduce the threat to nature and mankind and to develop a new modern style of economics.

(Deutsche Version)

I.

Many countries have already decided to phase out nuclear power due to the hazard potential of radioactive waste, which can last for hundred thousands of years, and prioritize the use of renewable primary resources for electricity generation (energy transition).

Further important steps are to:

  • stop extracting fossil fuels (“stranded assets”) altogether from the ground;
  • make electricity generation more effective and decentralise storage;
  • reduce air pollution, particularly in regional conurbations, through a transport transition, e.g. free, integrated, low exhaust emitting public transport;
  • as well as invent interconnectable road- and rail vehicles (Frederic Vester).

And also to:

  • reduce water pollution allowing the associated processing costs of drinking water to decrease
  • improve the living quality of the soil by organic management
  • protect oceans from overfishing and oceanic life from death by plastic waste
  • implement afforestation and preserve primeval forests as oxygen-producing “lungs of Earth”
  • keep the natural reserves free from human interference as much as possible to allow the natural biodiversity to flourish.

As a general rule, ecologically sustainable management has to be prioritised over recycling strategies, as it avoids environmental damage from the start.

II.

Efforts to reduce damage, however, alone will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by an economic transition:

The way we deal with nature has to be modernised. We know nature does not need us, but we (Adam Smith: human animals) live from our natural basis. We are heterotroph, we live from organic matter. With every breath we take in air and give back to nature no longer needed gases. Therefore, our today’s view of nature solely as an external object, disposable at will by man (Karl Polanyi: “fictitious commodity”) has to be overcome. It was an historic and reductive assumption (Peter Bendixen). It has to be modernised. We have to follow now the understanding and insights of modern physics (Carlo Rovelli). We know that we, as natural beings, interact with the nature external to us in a continuing, open and reciprocal process directly, immediately and unmediated. It follows that external nature can no longer be treated as if it only is our environment, we have to recognise it as our co-world (Klaus-Michael Meyer-Abich).

We discern three different forms of our exchange with nature:

  • direct, immediate and unmediated reciprocal interaction (= nateconomy) (Aristotle, Charles Darwin);
  • exchange mediated by a means, i.e. money culturally developed by humans (= culteconomy);

and the interchange between the means and the aim (= economicult), which diminishes our co-world, as well as our own natural abilities, as pure means for the increase of money. Suchan interchange is neither fair nor without repercussions.

We understand that destroying our living co-world is the consequence of our present way of acting on it and viewing it. It is a culturally developed form of interaction, not a natural one. This insight allows us the understanding that we are the culprits, and also the victims of such a logic. Against all better knowledge, this logic is still defended as having no viable alternative.

Unless that traditional economic view of  nature is modernised, any call for change might be iscredited as a kind of threat to existing industries, economic growth, tax revenue and jobs. Therefore we call for not only a quantitative, but also a qualitative transition in our approach to nature; a paradigm change.

 III.

Many international and national institutions have already implemented strategies for sustainable development and some have even anchored the expression “conservation of nature” in their constitutions. In the light of this statement, important next steps are to:

  • reformulate this as “conservation of nature’s capability to evolve”.
  • ensure that direct, immediate, unmediated interaction with our co-world as the basis for all life is made a basic human right.

Ecological sustainable modernisation must be prioritised in all areas of life, in the public and business sector, as well as in the scientific and private sphere:

  •  Legislative powers should not regard themselves only as the governor of others’ behaviour.
  • All public actors have the duty to practice sustainability in the pursuit of their own dealings.
  • It is not enough to install environment ministries/departments or sustainability advisory   councils. Ecologically sustainable modernisation is a cutting-across sectional task.
  • Public buildings, whether federal or local/regional, police stations or judicial institutions, technology centres or universities, schools or nurseries, shall be modernised sustainably.
  • Planning authorities have to shift their primary focus away from short-term cost advantages to long-term pay-offs. Higher one-off investments pay for themselves by reducing costs for heat and power in the long run.
  • A review of academic courses, for example architecture and engineering, should be initiated in order to establish ecologically sustainable construction and renovation as normal.
  • Economic courses have to be modernised with the aim to teach an understanding of nature with self-value and our three-dimensional unmediated reciprocal interaction process with her.
  • Sustainability standards should become binding for all public programmes.
  • In addition to the statutory duty to submit an annual financial statement, banks and all businesses should be obliged by an EU directive to disclose their interaction with nature in precise physical units, as for example weight, volume etc., via an Integrated Balance Sheet, because our interaction with nature can only be measured by physical units and not in money. As a cultural invention, money has no relevance to nature.

The Integrated Balance Sheet is to be separated into business-, product- and human ecology.      That way, it is possible to state nature’s annual profit through reduced utilization, which can   become an equally important objective to the entrepreneurial pursuit of financial profit.

A key area in terms of transitioning towards a fundamentally fair and cooperative interaction with our co-world is the financial industry:

  • Public banks should cease to accept as minimum reserves financial products that are damaging to people or our co-world.
  • Central banks should cease to accept as minimum reserves financial products that are damaging to people or our co-world.
  • All commercial banks should submit verifiable information on sustainability standards for their own business and the financial products they offer.
  • Approval of new financial products should be subject to compliance with Sustainable Development Goals based on the Agenda 2030.
  • An independent, publicly inspected rating agency (sustainability “control board”) should be set up for financial products.
  • Speculation on foodstuffs should be restricted to genuine hedging transactions for food-producing companies.

Furthermore, we demand that labour and income are decoupled. An unconditional basic income of the same amount for men and women is necessary.  Additionally, “houses of self-work” need to be established. Not until then we will value our own abilities in the same way as paid dependant labour.  It means progress when everybody can enjoy more freedom and self-determination in their work.

Last but not least, as the US economist Kenneth E. Boulding wrote, “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.”

IV.

This statement was drafted on 2 May and last amended on 29 May.  It is based on individual, subject-specific statements by environmentally conscious members of the scientific community. The authors of the individual sections are united by a common recognition of the urgent necessity for modernising. Although, agreement with all the demands presented herein is not a prerequisite.

Initial signatories:

  • Dr. Irene Schöne, Kiel
  • Prof. Dr. Harald Bolsinger, Würzburg (for the section on the financial industry)
  • Prof. Dr. Johannes Hoffmann, Kelkheim
  • Prof. Dr. Volker Stahlmann, Ottensoos

Additional signatories:

  1. Prof. Dr. Heinz Häberle, Herrsching
  2. Prof. Dr. Andreas Häberle, Rapperswil/Schweiz
  3. Sebastian Schönauer, Bund Naturschutz Bayern
  4. Dr. Gerhard Hofmann, Berlin
  5. Stefan Klinkenberg, Berlin
  6. Ed van Hinte, Den Haag/Niederlande
  7. Prof. Dr. Andreas Knie, Berlin
  8. Prof. Heribert Schmitz, Goldbach
  9. Prof. Dr. Antonio Autiero, Münster
  10. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Gantke, Frankfurt
  11. Monika von Brandt, Mannheim
  12. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Scherhorn, Mannhaim
  13. Prof. Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Cambridge/MA/USA
  14. Prof. Dr. Haruko Okano, Tokio
  15. Prof. Dr. Hans Kessler
  16. Umwelt-Akademie e.V., München
  17. Prof. Dr. John D’Arcy May, Melbourne,/Australien
  18. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schröder, Kassel
  19. Prof. Dr. Benezet Bujo, Fribourg
  20. Dr. Hyunju Shim, Seoul
  21. Prof. Dr. Franz Segbers, Marburg
  22. Sebastian Schönauer, Regensburg
  23. Prof. Dr. Franz-Josef Stendebach, Hünfeld
  24. Prof. Dr. Bernd Hirschl, Berlin
  25. Gerhard Guldner, Berlin
  26. Amelia Zinke, München
  27. Dieter Walch, Nieder-Olm
  28. Walter Hofmann, Dachsberg-Wilfingen
  29. Rainer Schubert, Hamburg
  30. Dr. Lothar Gündling, Porto, Portugal
  31. Wilfried Rähse, Hamburg
  32. Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl, Berlin
  33. Veronika Neukum-Hofmann, Berlin
  34. Dieter Holm, Hartbeespoort/Südafrfika
  35. Michael Thalhammer, Wien/Österreich
  36. Prof.  Wolfgang Hempel, Gaggenau
  37. Marcus Vietzke, Berlin
  38. Bernd Ahlers, Berlin
  39. Dr. Gerhard Knies, Hamburg
  40. Helmut Alber, Stuttgart
  41. Rosi Schusser, Berlin
  42. Ewa Nitsch, München
  43. Bettina-Maria Avdulahi, Berlin,
  44. Frank Schäufele, Lenningen
  45. Norbert Spielmann, Kreuzwertheim
  46. Alfons Kuhles, Meiersberg
  47. Rainer Hachfeld, Berlin
  48. Klaus Rollenhagen
  49. Thorsten Kodalle, Bielefeld
  50. Brigitta Schmidt,  Bad Neuenahr
  51. Dieter Klein, Bad Schwalbach
  52. Dr. Alla Ahmed Juma, Köln
  53. Rainer Diehl, Worms
  54. Lorenz Töpperwien, Köln
  55. Jürgen De Graeve, Manching
  56. Lutz Mez, Berlin
  57. Dr. Keivandokht Ghahari, Köln
  58. Ute Koczy,, Lemgo
  59. Dr. Joachim Braun; Berlin
  60. Doris Holler-Bruckner, Orth/Donau
  61. Petra Ernstberger, Hof/Marktredwitz
  62. Thomas Matussek, Berlin
  63. Dr. Jean-Marc Suter, Bern
  64. Hayder Abbas Alhawani, Berlin
  65. Ursula Meiß, Herne
  66. Ralf Ruszynski, Berlin
  67. Christian Breyer, Ph.D., Lappeenranta
  68. Tina Stadlmaye, London
  69. Thomas Gschwend, Oberriet/Schweiz
  70. Prof. Dr. Klaus J. Bade , Berlin
  71. Ernest Lang, München
  72. Fahime Farsaie Köln
  73. Gerd Aschmann, München
  74. Joachim Lund, Berlin
  75. Olga Borobio, Berlin
  76. Hartmut Palmer, Bonn
  77. Dr. Henner Gladen, Erlangen
  78. Dr. Mariana Bozesan, München
  79. Dr.  Klaus Hermann Ringwald, Brunei
  80. Christoph Richter, Almeria
  81. Matthias Wiegel, Berlin
  82. Matthias Giegerich, Frankfurt
  83. Prof. Dr. Dieter Puchta, Berlin
  84. Uta Petersen, Berlin
  85. David Volbracht, Münster
  86. Dr. Constanze Adolf, Brüssel
  87. Rolf Uhlig, Münster
  88. Manfred Schweda, Casablanca
  89. Benjamin Wagner vom Berg, Bremerhaven
  90. Dr. Gerd Harms, Potsdam
  91. Alexander Ebel, Berlin
  92. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schroeder, Kassel
  93. Peter Wittke, Kösching
  94. Prof. Dr. Michael Düren, Gießen
  95. Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl, Berlin
  96. Hayder Alhawani, Berlin
  97. Roland Geiger, Kiel
  98. Gisela Lerch, Berlin
  99. Dr. Helmut Röscheisen, Köln
  100. Martina Schmöllebeck, Nürnberg
  101. Peter Finke, Bielefeld
  102. Prof. Dr. Peter Brandt, Hagen
  103. Dr. Knut Nevermann, Berlin
  104. Dieter Ernst, Berlin
  105. Prof. Dr. Paul Velsinger, Dortmund
  106. Lorenz Knauer, München
  107. Rüdiger Glodde, Berlin
  108. Hartmut Idzko, Berlin
  109. Wilfried Rähse, Hamburg
  110. Dr. Winfried Hoffmann, Hanau
  111. Roger Kutschki, Berlin
  112. Hildegard Hofmann, Nürnberg
  113. Dr. Enno Aufderheide, Bonn
  114. Georg Brakmann, Waiblingen
  115. Walter Tauber, Grünendeich
  116. Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn, Berlin
  117. Rainer Burchardt, Mözen
  118. Martin Schmuck, Mönchengladbach
  119. Ing. Mag. Paul Chaloupka. Dübendorf,/Schweiz
  120. Heiner Schröder, Sottrum
  121. Jutta Kleymann
  122. Dmitri Pogorzhelski, Berlin
  123. Sigrid Latka-Jöhring, Bonn
  124. Nana Karlstetter, Berlin
  125. Maren Charlet, Kelsterbach
  126. Stephan Wiehler, Berlin
  127. Thomas Deinlein, Nürnberg
  128. Franz Hantmann, Münster
  129. Eric Langenskiöld, Zürich
  130. Manuel Flach, Ludwigsburg
  131. Josef Kastner, Wien
  132. Uwe Hupach, Köln
  133. Robert Nünning, Münster
  134. Hardy Rehmann, Sinzig
  135. Gerhard Zander, Nürnberg
  136. Rainer Schubert, Hamburg
  137. Sibylle Bauried, Berlin
  138. Donald Müller-Judex, Inning
  139. Beate Hänska, Berlin
  140. Stefan Vögtli, Lupsingen/Schweiz
  141. Dr. Matthias Wehkamp, Varel
  142. Dipl.-Ing. Arch. Nicole Allé, Berlin
  143. Günter Dören, Höxter
  144. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rinck, Kahl
  145. Maria Hoffmann, Kelkheim
  146. Ewald Pankratz, Waldshut-Tiengen
  147. Dr. Wolf Grabendorff, Quito
  148. Andreas Oberdorfer, Oberriexingen
  149. Dr. Jürgen Haselberger, Cuxhaven
  150. Frank Jedanowski, Drensteinfurt
  151. Thomas Andersen, Berlin
  152. Alois Leibrecht, Pflaumdorf
  153. Claudia Friedrich, Stuttgart