Germany: Conference “Science and Ethics”

© Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler

© Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler

Last week-end, I spent in Berlin at the Conference “Science and Ethics” which was a joint event of the German Physics Society ( and the German Scientists Association (
Its topics were nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, energy and teaching of natural sciences.

My impression was that all other problems are solvable, except for the energy problem. The experts had to admit that they know no single solution which solves the problem. Therefore, they recommend a mixture. It seemed to be consensus that nuclear power plants must continue to be used because they are secure and cheap. (Uarg!) Saving energy was also recommended, but it sounded like “build cars from lighter materials and sometimes use the public transports instead of the car”.
There were arguments against each renewable energy source: wind energy is only efficient when the wind is fast enough, solar energy is used in larger scale only in Germany thanks to governemental subventions, geothermal drills
lead to earthquakes, insulation of buildings is good but advances too slowly. Agro fuel was considered catastrophic because it aggravates some other problems like water and food shortness. Argo fuel and other energies are recommended for local use only, e.g. when Brazil produces its own fuel based on sugar cane and the Sahara region produce solar energy for water desalination.
Consequently, Germany can not expect other countries to solve our energy and CO2 problems. Which leads us back to the topic of saving energy. Even a Mc Kinsey study says that the CO2 goals can only be achieved in an economically
reasonable way by cutting energy consumption. All alternatives are too expensive. Unfortunately, we need enormous cuts, not only “building lighter cars”. And this is nothing what politicians can communicate to the voters. Therefore,
scientists must do this. (Or activists!) Only one speaker emphasized that we can save a lot without suffering, because some dozens of years ago people in Germany had a comfortable life also and used much less energy.

Andrea Herrmann

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