- 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
- 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
- Prof. Dr. Heinz Häberle, Herrsching
- Prof. Dr. Andreas Häberle, Rapperswil/Schweiz
- Sebastian Schönauer, Bund Naturschutz Bayern
- Dr. Gerhard Hofmann, Berlin
- Stefan Klinkenberg, Berlin
- Ed van Hinte, Den Haag/Niederlande
- Prof. Dr. Andreas Knie, Berlin
- Prof. Heribert Schmitz, Goldbach
- Prof. Dr. Antonio Autiero, Münster
- Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Gantke, Frankfurt
- Monika von Brandt, Mannheim
- Prof. Dr. Gerhard Scherhorn, Mannhaim
- Prof. Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Cambridge/MA/USA
- Prof. Dr. Haruko Okano, Tokio
- Prof. Dr. Hans Kessler
- Umwelt-Akademie e.V., München
- Prof. Dr. John D’Arcy May, Melbourne,/Australien
- Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schröder, Kassel
- Prof. Dr. Benezet Bujo, Fribourg
- Dr. Hyunju Shim, Seoul
- Prof. Dr. Franz Segbers, Marburg
- Sebastian Schönauer, Regensburg
- Prof. Dr. Franz-Josef Stendebach, Hünfeld
- Prof. Dr. Bernd Hirschl, Berlin
- Gerhard Guldner, Berlin
- Amelia Zinke, München
- Dieter Walch, Nieder-Olm
- Walter Hofmann, Dachsberg-Wilfingen
- Rainer Schubert, Hamburg
- Dr. Lothar Gündling, Porto, Portugal
- Wilfried Rähse, Hamburg
- Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl, Berlin
- Veronika Neukum-Hofmann, Berlin
- Dieter Holm, Hartbeespoort/Südafrfika
- Michael Thalhammer, Wien/Österreich
- Prof. Wolfgang Hempel, Gaggenau
- Marcus Vietzke, Berlin
- Bernd Ahlers, Berlin
- Dr. Gerhard Knies, Hamburg
- Helmut Alber, Stuttgart
- Rosi Schusser, Berlin
- Ewa Nitsch, München
- Bettina-Maria Avdulahi, Berlin,
- Frank Schäufele, Lenningen
- Norbert Spielmann, Kreuzwertheim
- Alfons Kuhles, Meiersberg
- Rainer Hachfeld, Berlin
- Klaus Rollenhagen
- Thorsten Kodalle, Bielefeld
- Brigitta Schmidt, Bad Neuenahr
- Dieter Klein, Bad Schwalbach
- Dr. Alla Ahmed Juma, Köln
- Rainer Diehl, Worms
- Lorenz Töpperwien, Köln
- Jürgen De Graeve, Manching
- Lutz Mez, Berlin
- Dr. Keivandokht Ghahari, Köln
- Ute Koczy,, Lemgo
- Dr. Joachim Braun; Berlin
- Doris Holler-Bruckner, Orth/Donau
- Petra Ernstberger, Hof/Marktredwitz
- Thomas Matussek, Berlin
- Dr. Jean-Marc Suter, Bern
- Hayder Abbas Alhawani, Berlin
- Ursula Meiß, Herne
- Ralf Ruszynski, Berlin
- Christian Breyer, Ph.D., Lappeenranta
- Tina Stadlmaye, London
- Thomas Gschwend, Oberriet/Schweiz
- Prof. Dr. Klaus J. Bade , Berlin
- Ernest Lang, München
- Fahime Farsaie Köln
- Gerd Aschmann, München
- Joachim Lund, Berlin
- Olga Borobio, Berlin
- Hartmut Palmer, Bonn
- Dr. Henner Gladen, Erlangen
- Dr. Mariana Bozesan, München
- Dr. Klaus Hermann Ringwald, Brunei
- Christoph Richter, Almeria
- Matthias Wiegel, Berlin
- Matthias Giegerich, Frankfurt
- Prof. Dr. Dieter Puchta, Berlin
- Uta Petersen, Berlin
- David Volbracht, Münster
- Dr. Constanze Adolf, Brüssel
- Rolf Uhlig, Münster
- Manfred Schweda, Casablanca
- Benjamin Wagner vom Berg, Bremerhaven
- Dr. Gerd Harms, Potsdam
- Alexander Ebel, Berlin
- Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schroeder, Kassel
- Peter Wittke, Kösching
- Prof. Dr. Michael Düren, Gießen
- Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl, Berlin
- Hayder Alhawani, Berlin
- Roland Geiger, Kiel
- Gisela Lerch, Berlin
- Dr. Helmut Röscheisen, Köln
- Martina Schmöllebeck, Nürnberg
- Peter Finke, Bielefeld
- Prof. Dr. Peter Brandt, Hagen
- Dr. Knut Nevermann, Berlin
- Dieter Ernst, Berlin
- Prof. Dr. Paul Velsinger, Dortmund
- Lorenz Knauer, München
- Rüdiger Glodde, Berlin
- Hartmut Idzko, Berlin
- Wilfried Rähse, Hamburg
- Dr. Winfried Hoffmann, Hanau
- Roger Kutschki, Berlin
- Hildegard Hofmann, Nürnberg
- Dr. Enno Aufderheide, Bonn
- Georg Brakmann, Waiblingen
- Walter Tauber, Grünendeich
- Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn, Berlin
- Rainer Burchardt, Mözen
- Martin Schmuck, Mönchengladbach
- Ing. Mag. Paul Chaloupka. Dübendorf,/Schweiz
- Heiner Schröder, Sottrum
- Jutta Kleymann
- Dmitri Pogorzhelski, Berlin
- Sigrid Latka-Jöhring, Bonn
- Nana Karlstetter, Berlin
- Maren Charlet, Kelsterbach
- Stephan Wiehler, Berlin
- Thomas Deinlein, Nürnberg
- Franz Hantmann, Münster
- Eric Langenskiöld, Zürich
- Manuel Flach, Ludwigsburg
- Josef Kastner, Wien
- Uwe Hupach, Köln
- Robert Nünning, Münster
- Hardy Rehmann, Sinzig
- Gerhard Zander, Nürnberg
- Rainer Schubert, Hamburg
- Sibylle Bauried, Berlin
- Donald Müller-Judex, Inning
- Beate Hänska, Berlin
- Stefan Vögtli, Lupsingen/Schweiz
- Dr. Matthias Wehkamp, Varel
- Dipl.-Ing. Arch. Nicole Allé, Berlin
- Günter Dören, Höxter
- Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rinck, Kahl
- Maria Hoffmann, Kelkheim
- Ewald Pankratz, Waldshut-Tiengen
- Dr. Wolf Grabendorff, Quito
- Andreas Oberdorfer, Oberriexingen
- Dr. Jürgen Haselberger, Cuxhaven
- Frank Jedanowski, Drensteinfurt
- Thomas Andersen, Berlin
- Alois Leibrecht, Pflaumdorf
- Claudia Friedrich, Stuttgart