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