Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Political Musings on the Heidelberg Appeal


Below is the full text of the Heidelberg Appeal. Global Warming Denialists contend that this appeal is evidence that mainstream scientists oppose the science behind “Global Warming” I heard this used as a defense and, since I know nothing about climate change science, I decided to investigate. This letter was written in 1992 and signed by 46 scientists and has since attracted more than 4,000 other signatures from other scientists including 72 Nobel Price winners, meaning the group can definetly ward off claims of being an insignificant fringe group. Below is the full text.

Heidelberg, April 14, 1992

“We want to make our full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth.

“We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.

“We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man’s first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.

“We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved. But we herewith demand that this stock-taking, monitoring and preservation be founded on scientific criteria and not on irrational pre-conceptions.

“We stress that many essential human activities are carried out either by manipulating hazardous substances or in their proximity, and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces, to the benefit of mankind. We therefore consider that scientific ecology is no more than an extension of this continual progress toward the improved life of future generations. We intend to assert science’s responsibility and duty towards society as a whole. We do however forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet’s destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data.

“We draw everybody’s attention to the absolute necessity of helping poor countries attain a level of sustainable development which matches that of the rest of the planet, protecting them from troubles and dangers stemming from developed nations, and avoiding their entanglement in a web of unrealistic obligations which would compromise both their independence and their dignity.

“The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry whose instruments, when adequately managed, are indispensable tools of a future shaped by Humanity, by itself and for itself, overcoming major problems like overpopulation, starvation and worldwide diseases.”

Okay, so reading it, I’m kinda suprised. This counter to Global Warming I’ve heard, doesn’t ever mention global warming or climate change. Essentially it’s a very vague and easy-to-agree with appeal to follow science and only science and not quasi-science. In most situations an appeal like this would be opposed by Republicans who want to teach Creationism in schools.

So perhaps a few of the signatories were thinking about Global Warming science being bunk, but reading the letter, that’d just be a guess. This proves that those 4000 people like science, like earth, and want world leaders to use real science when making decisions. Which is all good. So me, having no opinion on Global Warming, I’d be happy to sign it too.

Lastly, 49 of the Nobel Prize winners who signed that mostly-positive, mostly vague letter also signed the very specific ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (Link). That letter, signed by 49 of the same people, clearly make the case humans need to change our behavior because, “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course” They claim ” the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences”. So, next time someone uses the Heidelberg Appeal against Global Warming, the answer is:

A: That appeal doesn’t talk about Climate change.

B: But those Nobel Prize winners who signed that letter, do believe in climate change as evidence by “Scientists’ Warning to Humanity”

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2 responses to “Political Musings on the Heidelberg Appeal

  1. geronimo April 28, 2010 at 5:15 am

    “We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.”

    “We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man’s first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.”

    No it doesn’t talk about global warming specifically but you’d have to be a pretty dumb scientist to sign up to the above without concluding it was about the global warming movement.

    • The BookGuy April 28, 2010 at 10:50 am

      I would agree fully that the appeal was discussing climate change, but the wording was intentionally vague. That made it both:
      A) more likely a scientist who believe in global warming would sign it, and
      B) Likely people reading the letter after the fact could read into it what they wanted.

      Much like an ink test, I suspect people will see what they want when reading this. People who don’t believe in global warming will see it as scientist evidence. Believers will see that it never mentions global warming.

      I read it as a caution against turning from science to some idealized notion of “nautral state”. That doesn’t mean global warming isn’t real, it just means global warming isn’t a reason to reject industry and science. Science, technology may be causing problems, but they’re also likely to be the cure.

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