Scientists call for ecological, sustainable and participative economy

G20 Summit 2017

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

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, a number of environmentally conscious members of the scientific community 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.


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, alone, however, 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);
  • 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.
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