OF ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS
FOR GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
Newsletter no. 21
Editor: Armin Tenner, Amsterdam
IChairman: Hartwig Spitzer, Hamburg.
Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)
Introduction, Eric Fawcett
MAI about to FLY, Marjorie Kelly
MAI: The Multilateral Agreement on investment, Maude Barlow and Tony Clark
Privatization in New Zealand, Janis Graham
International Congress CONVERSION
Regional INES contacts
Life-Link Friendship Schools
Spirituality and Sustainability, F.-B. Meyberg
Ethics Committee for Science and Technology
The risks of "climate engineering" research, Ben Matthews
Peace Congress Osnabrück '98
New INES member organizations
New individual INES members
INES project on risks and benefits of NATO expansion
Finnish solar education program launched, Ari Lampinen
Next INES Council meeting
New USA Guidelines on nuclear warfare should be released to public, David Krieger
A word from the Chairman, Hartwig Spitzer
The INES Newsletter is edited by Armin Tenner, Buziaustraat 18, 1068 KN Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel:/Fax: , E-mail:
The Newsletter is printed on 100% recycled paper by Jürgen Heinze, Dortmund, Germany.
The New World Order:
Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)
by Eric Fawcett
Emeritus Professor Eric Fawcett of Physics Department, University of Toronto, is Founding President (1981),
now Vice-President of Science for Peace, and member of INES.
An election was fought in Canada in 1988 on the issue of Free Trade with the USA. The Tories won and then began work with the USA to extend this to Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Tories were defeated in the following 1992 election, with the most dramatic landslide in recent times, but the Liberals who defeated them reversed the strong opposition to NAFTA in their election platform, and signed the agreement immediately, thus betraying the electorate.
With this history, failure of NAFTA to improve the Canadian economy, and clear evidence of severe damage to Mexico, one can understand why Canadian citizens are deeply suspicious of MAI, especially since it is being negotiated in secrecy with no public debate whatsoever. In fact, in the last election in 1997, when the Liberals were returned to office, the MAI was not even an issue. The media smothered any discussion of either NAFTA or MAI - after all, more than half the newspapers in Canada are now owned by business tycoons Conrad Black and Roy Thomson, and for both the major parties, "the business of Canada is business."
Science for Peace (towards a just and sustainable world) regards the New World Order, which is taking shape as a global economy controlled by the multinationals, subject under MAI to no enforceable social or environmental constraints, as a proper issue to address under their mandate.
MAI about to FLY
by Marjorie Kelly
From the Sustainable Business Network web magazine - URL at the end. http://www.envirolink.org/sbn/feature_3.html
MAI online library and links: http://www.flora.org/mai-not/library
Public Citizen: http://www.citizen.org/pctrade/tradehome.html
In a democracy, a nation's people rule -- right? Not if an international trade agreement trumps their decisions. Consider, for example, that the people of the European Union decided to ban the import of hormone-treated beef. The World Trade Organization decided otherwise, and overturned the ban after the USA sued.
In Canada, the people decided to ban the import of MMT - a toxic fuel additive, believed to damage control equipment in cars and thus cause higher emissions. The US manufacturer, Ethyl Corp., argued the ban was "expropriation," and demanded compensation of US $251 million ($350 million Canadian) from the Canadian government. Under the terms of NAFTA, an international panel - not a domestic court - will make the final ruling. Its proceedings will be secret, its records closed, and its decision binding. The people decided against MMT. But a NAFTA panel may decide differently. And there will be no appeal.
In another case, Venezuela and Brazil challenged the US Clean Air Act before the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the law was changed. To avoid a similar challenge, the U.S. House gutted dolphin protection. The people rule? Not if their decisions interfere with international business.
As frightening as these cases are, they're rivulets before the flash flood that's building with the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). Scheduled to come before Congress May, 1998, it's been secretly in the works at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since 1995. As one OECD negotiator crowed, "We're writing the constitution of a single global economy." MAI is, in essence, a Bill of Rights for corporations - while relegating everyone else's interests to the sidelines.
While NAFTA involved only North America, MAI would involve all 29 OECD nations (the world's richest), as well as other nations that choose to join. While NAFTA allows exceptions for existing national laws, MAI aggressively seeks to negate current laws, or penalize governments for them. NAFTA commits the USA for 5 years and requires only 6 months notice of withdrawal. We shall be committed to MAI for 20 years, with 5 years notice of withdrawal!
The Western Governors' Association offers this preview of laws that could be attacked under MAI, if it is enacted in its present form:
As an enforcement mechanism, MAI will grant investors and corporations the right to sue governments - forcing them to change their laws, or pay out hundreds of millions. But MAI does not grant governments reciprocal rights to sue corporations for damages.
Perhaps most frightening, MAI is flying below media radar as it moves toward enactment - like the invisible approach of a stealth bomber. This agreement must find its way into public debate soon.
Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke list the most critical clauses of the MAI in their book,
"MAI: The Multilateral Agreement on Investment."
Pages 181-190. October 1997 ISBN 0-7737-5946-8
They summarize the probable consequences of those clauses as follows:
1. National Treatment and Most Favoured Nation Treatment:
"National treatment" requires countries to treat foreign investors and investments no less favourably than domestic ones. Countries could not, given this provision:
Laws that have a discriminatory effect on foreign investors would be prohibited whether or not such discrimination is intentional.
However, there would be nothing to stop governments from treating foreign corporations more favourably than domestic ones. The "most favoured nation" provision require governments to treat all foreign countries and all foreign investors equally with respect to regulatory laws. Laws preventing corporations from doing business in countries with poor human rights practices would be prohibited by this clause.
2. Performance Requirements:
These clauses place limits on laws that require investors to meet certain conditions before they may establish an enterprise in a particular locale or it they wish to be eligible for tax incentives or other government aid. Rules requiring corporations to use domestic inputs, set local content, hire Canadians, transfer technology, meet certain research and development commitments, or balance exports and imports could all be affected.
3. Standstill and the Listing of Country-Specific Reservations:
"Standstill" requires national and subnational governments to refrain from passing any future law that violates MAI rules. Standstill freezes the principles of national treatment and most favoured nation at their current level. Countries agree to list all their existing non-conforming measures, to impose no new ones, and to make no amendments to existing measures that would increase non-conformity to the MAI.
T his provision requires national and subnational governments to eliminate laws, either immediately or over a period of time, that violate MAI rules. Countries agree to reduce and eventually eliminate non-conforming measures, including those listed as "country-specific reservations."
5. Dispute Between an Investor and a Contracting Party:
These provisions on investor-state dispute resolution enable private investors and corporations to sue national governments, and seek monetary compensation, in the event that a law, practice, or policy violates investor rights as established in the MAI. International investors would have the option to sue a country before an international tribunal rather than in the country's domestic courts. Essentially, investor-state dispute resolution confers on private investors the same rights and legal standing as national governments in enforcing the MAI's terms.
6. Investment Protection:
Clauses on expropriation and compensation ban the uncompensated expropriation of corporate assets. The definition of expropriation would include not just the outright seizure of property, but also government actions "tantamount to expropriation," which could include, for example environmental regulations having a negative impact on the commercial interests of a foreign investor.
The MAI bans restrictions on the reparation of profits and the movement of capital. Countries would not be able to prevent an investor from moving profits from the operation or sale of a local enterprise to that investor's home country. Nor could countries delay or prohibit transfers of assets, including financial instruments like stocks or currency.
Privatization in New Zealand--the shape of things to come with MAI?
from Janis Graham at
All N.Z. Local Government Bodies (Municipalities) must examine all services provided to the public and weigh up the public good aspect and private good aspect with the intention of setting up Local Authority Trading Enterprises (L.A.T.E. Companies) to commercialise fully all their services.
Once a L.A.T.E. has been established it becomes registered in the Companies Office and all information about it becomes commercially sensitive. This means these companies can then be sold without public consultation because of commercial sensitivity (just a back door method of privatisation). The Local Government Bodies must present a commercially viable proposition on each of their services to Government by July 1998.
Those universally available, affordable services (water, wastewater, roading, municipal parks and recreation centres, libraries, ports, airports, regional forests, works business units, etc.) owned by the public are now being set up to be sold off to foreign investors as fast as the bureaucrats can manage it, with minimum or no public consultation.
The possible effect of these measures on these privatised formerly public assets is frightful. Water for example becomes the subject of franchisement or outright sale, which may be channeled off, or even exported, to corporate agri business operating in formerly non-arable land purchased cheaply, e.g., in outback Australia.
Private enterprise in roads is another fearful scenario. There need be no upgrading of existing infrastructure, which would be a loss to shareholders. There will instead be a proliferation of technology in the form of super toll roads, which the wealthy may ride while the rest of us journey about on roads reduced to bullock tracks.
Recently our own local Council in Papakura (population 40,000) sold 50% of our "public" works business unit (maintenance) to Serco, an English transnational. At first they were wonderful, Serco trucks everywhere busy, busy, busy ... but last week they laid off 100 workers, after only 3 months. The council can't do a thing about it!
More information about MAI can be found on INTERNET:
Challenges for Enterprises and Regions in East and West
Kiel, 27th to 29th March 1998
(Congress Language English)
organized by the Schleswig-Holstein Institute for Peace Research (SHIP) at the Christian-Albrechts University Kiel
The reduction of defence budgets in most European countries has obliged enterprises in the arms industry sector and local authorities to change their strategies considerably. For arms industry enterprises the development, production and marketing of civilian products is mostly the only alternative to a reduction of production or closure of these enterprises. Also local authorities have to look for supporting structural and employment-related measures for reconstructing after the closure of military base or troop reductions.
Both arms industry enterprises and local authorities have enormous problems in accepting the necessity of a radical change in behaviour as well as culture and in managing this change in order to become less dependent upon the military sector.
The announced Congress will be a forum for the exchange of experiences to form a bridge between theory and practice. It is intended to help to organize the restructuring of defence-related enterprises and regions more efficiently and to give a better understanding of the problems involved in this process.
Besides the more general character of the public opening session on Friday, there will be more application-oriented work in the working groups on Saturday and at the conversion marketplace on Sunday morning.
INES is presently preparing for a conference to be held in the year 2000 in Stockholm, Sweden. This "millenium" conference has got the temporary title
"Challenges for Science and Engineering in the 21st Century"
We believe that the year 2000 offers a unique opportunity to highlight and discuss the role of science and engineering in our societies and the changes of direction that INES deems necessary to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable future.
A preparatory group convened in August 1997 (see picture) and in January 1998 in Uppsala.
The program of the congress will cover four fields of subjects:
The subjects will be worked out in plenary sessions and by workshops.
The intention is to publish a comprehensive document before the congress to focus on the subjects. It is widely felt that the congress should make an appeal to the younger generation. Therefore, the proceedings should preferentially be written in the form of a textbook.
REGIONAL INES CONTACTS
INES as a network relies on healthy nodes. Readers are encouraged to approach the INES contact person in their region. Please raise any question you have.
COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES
Valerie Petrosyan, Fax: ail:
BALTIC REGION, (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland)
Lars Rydén, Fax: ; E-Mail:
CENTRAL / WESTERN EUROPE, (Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, UK, Ireland)
Reiner Braun, Fax:
CENTRAL / EASTERN EUROPE, (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Successor states of former Yugoslavia)
WESTERN / SOUTHERN EUROPE, (France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Greece)
Marc Ollivier, Fax:
NORTH AFRICA, Esmat Ezz, Fax: +, E-Mail:
CENTRAL / SOUTHERN AFRICA, Ogunlade Davidson, Fax:
CANADA, Eric Fawcett, Fax: +1 , E-Mail:
UNITED STATES, David Krieger, Fax:
LATIN AMERICA, Luis Masperi, Fax:
AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, John Peet, Fax:
JAPAN, Friedemann Greulich (to be confirmed), Fax: , E-Mail:
LIFE-LINK FRIENDSHIP SCHOOLS
The following text is taken from "School Twinning and Project Management for Common Security," the Life-Link Manual 1996.
Life-Link's chairperson is Hans Levander, Specialist in Internal Medicine, Uppsala, Sweden.
Involving the younger generation in the discussion and hearing its voice, will be a major goal of the INES 2000 congress.
Life-Link Friendship Schools is an independent Non Governmental Organisation, which aims to promote contact and cooperation between young people around the world and their schools, through active participation in shared projects, vital for our time.
Life-Link projects centre around 3 main areas of attention:
Care of ourselves ---- Care of each other ---- Care of the environment
Realisation of these 3 interdependent areas will lead to increased common security.
Life-link philosophy of work
Life-Link Friendship Schools is committed to fostering common security. Common security, when we work for security together rather than at each other's expense, is a path for shared responsibility for a common future.
Common security has three basic ingredients:
Communication ---- Confidence ---- Cooperation
School Twinning links schools to partner schools in different nations in the world in order to develop international projects that will support common security.
The importance of common security can be explained as follows. Because of the tremendous growth in world population and limited natural resources, each individual has a growing responsibility for our common survival. Through communication and transport and increasingly shared economies, nations and groups have largely become interdependent.
There is a clear need to learn to cooperate internationally, to come to an understanding of other peoples and their cultures, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to protect the environment.
Life-Link School Twinning promotes active participation of youth in projects and campaigns across national boundaries. Youth are empowered to meaningful communication regarding work on creative solutions to vital problems of the world.
School Twinning supports the idea that every individual counts and can be involved in citizen diplomacy to actively discuss and design projects and campaigns reflecting common needs and supporting common security.
Life Link is a non-political and non-religious organisation. Different cultural, religious and political points of view are respected, as long as they are harmonious with accepted United Nations Human and Children's rights.
Life-Link operates in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human and Children's rights and
UNESCO'S 1974 "Recommendation Concerning Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace" and "Education relating to Human Rights and Individual Freedoms."
Life-Link promotes school twinning to stimulate international dialogue and common projects between youth and schools around the world with the aims:
Youth members of Life-Link should, through active participation in a Life-Link twinning programme be able:
Spirituality and Sustainability:
Earth Charter, Secular Spirituality, World Religions
The Assisi Conference 1997
Working for a sustainable development after the Rio Conference 1992 means looking not only at the words, but also at the spirit of sustainability. Just having started our new INES project "Spiritual Dimensions of Sustainability" after the INES-Congress 1996 in Amsterdam, we recognize ourselves being embedded in quite a few of similar activities all around the world. One of them is the series of "Assisi Conferences on Spirituality and Sustainability." The INES project coordinator F.-B. Meyberg attended the 1997 conference on 12-17 July. A short summary was already given in "What's new in INES," INESnet No. 8/1997. In the following report he surveys the conference as a whole and describes some main topics that might be important for the INES project. At the end, he outlines next steps for the INES project.
Assisi in the region of Umbria in Italy is the town of St. Francis, the Christian monk who treated all nature, even the bad and dangerous sides, as his brother and sister; Francis became a symbol for a simple life style and material poverty, a patron saint for the environmental movement and a guide to sustainability. Uncounted pilgrims and tourists visit the Franciscan town every year, admiring the works of art and experiencing the spirit of this place. In the last months Assisi was hit by a series of earthquakes destroying life and buildings, thus also being a symbol for the power of nature and the vulnerability of human beings and their work.
The Assisi Conferences on Spirituality and Sustainability are planned as a series of six events from 1995 until the year 2000. Their primary purpose is to identify and celebrate the transformation of religion, ethics, economics, science, politics, education, and the arts to promote ecojustice and sustainability. It also seeks to develop publications, declarations, and a network of committed professionals to further the necessary transformation for the new millenium. The organizers are the catholic St. Thomas University (STU) in Florida (USA) and the Centre for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE) in Washington D.C. (USA).
About 60 people were attending, most of them from the USA, and partly 30 students of STU. Besides the lectures and talks, several excursions focused on art, history, ecology, and spirituality of the region. During the conference, a large field of interdisciplinary topics was dealt with, not only concerning Christian religion. After a description of the whole conference, I will highlight some aspects that might be most interesting for engineers and scientists and for our own project group. Furthermore, I will give some addresses of institutions for direct contacts. All INES members are cordially invited to support the search for spiritual dimensions of sustainability and thus to strengthen our engagement for a sustainable world!
Survey of the Conference
The Conference was structured in five sessions as described in the following parts.
Emerging Earth Ethics. The Earth Charter and other initiatives in the context of progress since Rio and subsequent UN summits.
In this summer the UN summit, five years after the Rio Conference had to acknowledge a very poor record of progress in the field of environment and development. A similar weak result is expected from the Kyoto Climate Conference, in December 1997, mainly because of the rigid attitude of Japan and the USA.
Sustainability must be more than a buzzword in international conferences. Maurice Strong (World Bank) and Mikhail Gorbachev started an initiative after Rio '92: The "Earth Charter" process of the UN. As a preamble for a "constitution for the protection of the earth," the Earth Charter is meant to express the spirit of sustainability. Local Earth Charters shall be added.
CRLE is involved in the process with its magazine "Earth Ethics" and may be contacted:
Centre for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE), 2100-L-Street, NW, Washington D.C. 22037 (USA)
Foundations of the Earth Charter may come from quite a lot of spiritual movements:
Tom Berry, Greensboro, NC (USA), cultural historian and geologist, working in the field of evolution, cosmology, as well as culture and religion in Asia was the highly esteemed senior speaker of the conference and a strong critic of present economic practices. He argues for a faith strongly connected with the earth. This faith will have mythical and shamanistic qualities like the faith of indigenous people.
Nancy Nash (Hong Kong), who may be well known to some INES members, as she initiated and influenced the INES project with the same name, presented "Buddhist Perception of Nature." She emphasized the universal responsibility of all human beings, not only religious ones, as e.g. in Asia there is not much religion left.
Franciscans have, besides their first (male) order and their second (female), a third one: The "Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)," whose members live in a 'normal' civil life, but in the spirit of St. Francis. Charles Spencer, chairperson of the National Ecology Commission of SFO gave a lecture at the conference about the 'Fulfillment of Life', showing that Christian spirituality is strongly connected with our practical life on earth.
Contact: 107 Jensen Circle, West Springfield, MA 01089 (USA)
E-mail: , WWW: http://pages.map.com/SecularFranciscanEcology
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) also deals with an Interfaith Environmental Partnership. Richard Jordan is the coordinator:
P.O. Box 1562, Madison Square Station, New York, NY 10159 (USA).
Science and Technology: Problems and Solutions. To explore the threats to environmental and human health posed by current patterns of production and consumption and to look at promising developments in the green sciences.
As INES itself mainly deals with these themes and has published results e.g. in the Proceedings of the Amsterdam congress, this session is omitted in further reporting.
Sustainable Development and Sustainable Communities. To highlight the new economics (incorporating natural and social capital, spiritual growth and long-term concerns) and to clarify and celebrate practical examples in sustainable living.
In many lectures and discussions, a main reason for the critical situation of our planet was seen in the present worldwide neo-liberal economy. Therefore new economics were discussed: Ross and Hildur Jackson, Gaia Trust, Holte (Denmark), presented the concept of "Eco-Villages," combining alternative forms of living, working, technology and spirituality. Christina Liamzon, Philippines, working for the People-centered Development Forum, Rome (Italy), described as a representative of the South a regional "bare-foot economy" ("people's economy") for poor countries.
Academic Knowledge and Artistic Expression for Sustainability. To identify the nature of academic knowledge and practices for sustainability and to clarify and celebrate the indispensable role of artistic expression of the natural world for spiritual growth and transformation.
"Greening of science" is the task for scientific education in the 21st century. Gary McCloskey and Elisabeth Ferrero (STU) gave some examples for the reformation of curricula at St. Thomas University: Linking science with literature and other arts, grounding of human thinking and working in nature and the region we live, and even more: nature as primary context for all education!
Anthony Cortese, President of "Second Nature," an organization envisioning a world where caring for the environment will become a second nature to every individual, presented "Starfish." It uses Internet to connect educators worldwide who are working to fully integrate environmental and sustainability perspectives into their teaching:
Contact: Second Nature, 44 Bromfield Street, 5th floor, Boston, MA-02108 (USA). WWW: http://www.starfish.org.
World Religions, Secular Spirituality & Earth Ethics. To explore the emerging common ground between our different faith traditions and individual spiritualities and to look at the many ways the Spirit is moving through our ecojustice concerns.
The traditional world religions are a part of the environmental problems of the world, but also a part of their solution. That's why many authors and institutions in the world deal with the relation of religion, science, environment and development; e.g. a series of ten "Conferences on Religions of the World and Ecology" is held from 1996 to 1998 at Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts (USA) with a follow-up Conference at United Nations in Oct. 1998.
Contact: Profs. Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker & Dr. John Grim, Bucknell University, Department of Religion
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 17837 USA, E-mail:
John Grim emphasized the importance of indigenous people. Their religion is not separated, but closely connected to the daily life and the nature. We have to learn from their attitude towards life, their spiritual life-way (life-style).
"Secular Spirituality" is a key word for all those, who want to deal with the spirit of sustainability without being religious in a traditional way. John Hoyt, president of CRLE, wants to make room for spirituality, both old and new, not grounded in formal religious traditions only. For him being spiritually grounded means an openness to be motivated and directed by something other than self-centered considerations; to see the Holy in all things; or, with Dostoyevski's words, loving all creation ... perceiving the mystery in all.
Evaluation of the Conference
The richness of impressions, interesting themes, inspiring meetings with peaceful and friendly people in the atmosphere of the Franciscan town gave hopeful examples of fulfilling human and community life. With many thanks to the organizers, the participants and all other people contributing to the success of this event, I can recommend the next conference to all INES members!
To a skeptical scientist some of the key words of the conference may sound a bit strange and unusual. Isn't it overly optimistic and unrealistic, to speak about a celebratory and sustainable society in a world full of power and violence? In a world of wars and earthquakes? Aren't the conflicts in nature and human society underestimated? That is what many people sense and feel. On the other hand: Where is the alternative? Isn't it a wise attitude, to celebrate and praise life in a sustainable way, without ignoring problems, conflicts, and death!
Conclusions for the work of INES
What do I extract from this conference for our work in INES and our project group?
Spiritual Dimensions of Sustainability
Regional meetings as next steps for the INES project
The next international INES congress will be held in Stockholm in the year 2000. Our INES project plans to arrange a part of it, a workshop etc. Till then most of our work will take place on a regional scale or by mail and e-mail. There is contact and cooperation with the INES "Committee on Ethical Questions," "Ethics Protection Initiative" and "Buddhist Perception of Nature."
In Germany, we have started with a meeting about the theoretical foundation of scientific truth. "Do we need a Second Enlightenment?" was the theme of a meeting of experts at the Evangelic Academy in Bad Segeberg (North Germany) on invitation of INES members H.-J. Fischbeck and F.-B. Meyberg. Starting from a view of the historical period of Enlightenment, the role of natural sciences and philosophy searching for the truth was discussed, leading to future perspectives for "sustainable sciences." The results of this meeting in the context of our INES project will influence some further meetings in 1998:
"All is Energy! Spirituality as enlargement of the horizon of science and theology,"
February 13-15, 1998, Evangelic Academy Bad Segeberg. Conference language is German!
Contact: Dr. F.-B. Meyberg (address below).
"Sustainable Sciences for a sustainable development. Do we need a Second Enlightenment?"
May, 22-24, 1998, Evangelic Academy Mülheim (Germany). Conference language is German!
Contact: Dr. H.-J. Fischbeck, Uhlenhorstweg 29, D-45479 Mülheim (Ruhr), Germany.
All interested persons are cordially invited to participate at these two meetings or to participate at the next Assisi Conference (in English language) or to organize meetings in the field of Spirituality and Sustainability in their own language and their own region!
For further information about the next Assisi Conference, please contact the organizers:
Dr. Elisabeth Ferrero, St. Thomas University, 16400 NW 32 Avenue, Miami, Florida 33054 (USA), E-mail:
For your comments on this report as well as regular information about our INES project "Spiritual Dimensions of Sustainability," please contact:
Dr. F.-B. Meyberg, Eberhardstr. 9 D-22041 Hamburg (Germany)
Ethics Committee for Science and Technology
Vigdis Finnbogadottir was director of Iceland National Theater and a university teacher in French at Reykjavik University. She also moderated courses in French drama for Iceland television. In 1980, she was elected President of the Iceland Republic, the first elected female head of state in history. She was reelected and held her position for sixteen years.
Federico Mayor, General Secretary of UNESCO, now has nominated her President of a new committee. The Ethics Committee for Science and Technology will consist of 20 representatives of science, philosophy, politics, and culture. The committee will deal with problems of drinking water control, future energy consumption and the problems of information society. The bio-ethics group of UNESCO will become related to this new body.
The risks of "climate engineering" research
By Ben Matthews
ENV, UEA, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK, E-mail:
It is acknowledged that environmental protection cannot solely be discussed on a technical level. The committee will discuss and define the opportunities and risks of scientific and technological development in a trans-disciplinary context. It will be a task of the committee to work out an ethics code for science and engineering and for all people working in these fields.
Knowledge brings power. The path from exciting new fields of science to technological applications may be clever but not necessarily wise. Nuclear physics is the classic example, genetic engineering is currently the most topical. I am concerned that we may soon be entering the era of "climate engineering," i.e. global-scale "technical fixes" in order to offset anthropogenic greenhouse warming. Such proposals fall into three main categories:
In contrast to small-scale "green" technology (renewable energy etc.), climate engineering attempts to tackle the symptoms not the causes of the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.
History (from ice cores and geological records) shows that the global climate does not change gradually but in sudden jumps controlled by the balance of positive and negative biogeochemical and physical feedback processes which are inherently hard to predict. Our current unintentional "experiment" releasing into the atmosphere in a few decades the carbon which has been stored as fossil fuel over millions of years, is therefore itself very risky, but attempts to balance that by manipulating other climate feedback processes are perhaps even riskier. Yet some scientists argue that such intervention is preferable, or more likely to succeed, than the alternative of the "social engineering" of human lifestyles to reduce our fossil fuel consumption. A key turning point should have come at the Climate Convention in Kyoto last December. If the shown intentions to reduce the emissions will not be effective, then the decision makers may well start to seek out such "technical fixes" instead.
They will not have to look very far. Kyoto also happens to be the home of the largest centre for research on such topics, known as the "Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth" (RITE), funded by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Much of RITE's research is highly commendable: for instance reducing methane emissions from rice paddies or developing cleaner industrial processes. But they also have large programmes devoted to genetically engineering plants to take up more CO2, or to disposing of CO2 in the ocean. One project which particularly worried me combines both these ideas: they wish to develop a "Super-RUSBISCO" enzyme with the long-term aim of the "elimination of atmospheric CO2 by the oceanic micro organisms and plants engineered to most actively fix CO2." Perhaps they could just release a few cells into the sea, and - due to a few mistakes in the feedback calculations - soon we will have another ice age...
Myself, I also investigate how air-sea CO2 fluxes are controlled by marine algae. This is one of the key climate feedback processes, as over geological timescales the ocean algae are the main long-term sink for atmospheric CO2, whilst in the short term they still help to pump CO2 from surface to deep water. I ended up here playing with CO2 in my tank of seawater and algae, partly due to inspiration from Lovelock's "Gaia" theory which tells in many ways how algae really rule the world. But now that this has been discovered by other people who instead play with making money because they thought that ruled the world, it seems they want their money to control the algae too. RITE already has a rapidly growing list of patents, but is not alone. Globally most of this research is now funded by the large fossil fuel corporations. It is ironic that they who make so much money causing the problem, then expect us to pay them for the technology with which to "fix" it. But it is more likely that their main motivation in promoting such research is to distract the policymakers from imposing restrictions on CO2 emissions.
At the moment a large portion of the research sponsored by the fossil fuel industry is directed towards disposing of CO2 extracted from power station flue gases through pipelines directly into the deep ocean. They are right to assert that the ocean is potentially an enormous sink for atmospheric CO2, due to its chemical buffering capacity. But locally the water would become very acidic, killing all deep-sea life in the vicinity. Recent estimates of deep-sea biodiversity have been compared to tropical rainforests. Do we have the right to destroy such life even though it is out of our sight, in order to satisfy our craving for consuming fossil fuel? Economists will doubtless soon be telling the answer with crazy cost-benefit analyses. Furthermore we cannot be certain that the ocean circulation would not shift due to climate change, bringing this CO2-rich water suddenly back to the surface. And to pump the CO2 down to such depths requires a lot of energy: about a quarter of that acquired from burning the fossil fuel in the first place. So we would have to burn more fuel for the same amount of energy, eventually causing a higher equilibrium concentration in the atmosphere. While averting the immediate problem, this compromises inter-generational equity.
All "climate engineering" schemes are temporary which therefore imposes a great burden on future generations: the responsibility of continuous intervention to offset the long-lived greenhouse gases we are now putting into the sky, to carefully balance the comfortable climate which we once took for granted. But other people will argue, is it not a gift to our children, to do research now to develop these tools just in case the situation gets so bad that they need them to avert a catastrophe. And if industrialists are going to investigate this anyway, should not academics also get involved to offer an independent assessment of the risks? The danger is that the science of global change will get distorted by such a large input of funds focussed towards developing technical fixes. And once many people's lives become dependent on such research, the projects will gain their own momentum. Then, whether or not it is judged wise to experiment with the planet that is our only home, people will want to justify the resources spent and satisfy their curiosity. Many readers will doubtless recall how such factors led to the dropping of the bomb in Hiroshima.
Perhaps in part due to that memory, there are also many people in Kyoto and nearby who share my concern about "climate engineering" despite Japan's reputation for promoting technology to solve every problem. With their help, I intend to raise a discussion on this topic in Kyoto as a delegate of SGR, both within the Convention and at the parallel NGO conference. I already have some experience of such debates: I first raised this topic in my own department here at UEA during the recent controversy over "iron fertilisation" experiments in the Pacific Ocean conducted by colleagues in my own research group. This led to talks at "Science for the Earth," "Has Science gone far Enough?" and the Edinburgh Science Festival. A poster on this topic was also on display in Edinburgh and at the recent meeting of the climate convention (subsidiary bodies) in Bonn.
I have also written an extensive and thoroughly referenced review paper on this topic which is on the SGR web site:
This discusses the full range of "climate engineering" proposals, from rainmaking, to pumping CO2 under the rocks, greening deserts, and "terraforming" Mars. It also lists some of the industrial sponsors, discusses the scientific and political context of this research, and considers what we might do about such concerns.
European Peace Congress Osnabrück '98
29 - 31 May 1998
Osnabrück / Germany
The congress takes place on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia.
Further information from:
Center for Education and Communication on Environment and Development
Ramesh Babu Shrestha,
Secretary General of CECED-NEPAL writes:
The Center for Education and Communication on Environment and Development is a non-profit, non-government organization, established in 1992. The organizational structure consists of 7 executive board members and 35 staff members. The objectives of the organization are:
An example of the activities of the organization is the
Green Sky Program
The name Green Sky refers to the rooftops of the houses where the program is performed. Hundred households are selected every year. The beneficiaries are invited to a group meeting and a discussion, where they are introduced to the programme, its objectives and goals.
The general objective is to keep the environment clean. Specific objectives are to generate extra income, to practice organic farming, to make people aware of nutrition, etc. Beneficiaries, who have enough space on their roof, are encouraged to do vegetable gardening using only organic fertilizers. The vegetables grown are leafy vegetables, tomato, chili, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. All the necessary materials such as flower pots, seeds, and saplings are arranged by the participants themselves. Technical assistance is provided free of charge by the CECED staff when and where necessary.
Global Resource Action for the Environment
GRACE is a non-member, not-for-profit corporation started in 1996, committed to forming new links between those engaged in research, policy, and grassroots community work, in order to promote solutions to preserve the future of the planet and to protect the quality of the environment. GRACE projects include work for the abolition of nuclear weapons promotion of corporate responsibility for the environment and opposition to factory farming.
The president of GRACE, Ms. Alice Slater, has been previously working with ECAAR (Economists Allied for Arms Reduction).
INES PROJECT ON RISKS AND BENEFITS OF NATO EXPANSION
Project announcement, as endorsed by Hartwig Spitzer and David Krieger to the INES Executive Committee,
20 November 1997.
The end of the Cold War has opened new prospects for achieving sustainable peace and security in Europe. A unique opportunity exists to create a new non-discriminatory regional security system in Europe.
The core of such a security system already exists in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), created according to the wish of all European countries, and supported by the peoples and NGO's in Europe. The OSCE encompasses not only all European states, but also the two most influential North American states, the United States and Canada. The OSCE, under the aegis of the United Nations, could assume both peacekeeping and, if necessary, peacemaking functions in Europe.
However, instead of strengthening the OSCE and dismantling the two obsolete military instruments of bipolarity, WTO and NATO, only WTO has been dissolved. Paradoxically, NATO now seeks to expand its membership and has thus far invited three additional countries to join its alliance.
The Council of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility, gathered in Riga, Latvia, 25-28 July 1997, expresses deep concern with the attempt to expand NATO eastward. The INES Council finds cause for concern with the possibility for further spread of nuclear weapons, undermining already achieved agreements on conventional and nuclear forces. The INES Council believes that the discriminatory character of expansion will create new walls and fences in Europe, thus giving a second-order status to part of the European population and provoking Russian countermeasures to restore balance. There are immense costs to such a risky undertaking, and politicians have not frankly and honestly informed the populations of their respective countries about the pros and cons of expansion.
The INES Council has decided to establish an international and interdisciplinary project on Risks and Benefits of NATO Expansion. It will consider the alternative vision of forming an Euro-Atlantic non-discriminatory universal security system based on further development of the OSCE, compatible with the total and comprehensive abolition of nuclear weapons, and corresponding to the projects of sustainable peace and security.
Contact for the project:
Finnish solar education program launched
Ari Lampinen, assistant professor at the Department of Physics of the University of Jyvaskyla and member of Technology for Life writes:
The Finnish Physical Society started an educational project; the INES member organization "Technology for Life" took part in it. What is the role of INES in making national education plans?
Could it be increased?
To increase the interest of high school pupils in physics, the Finnish Physical Society has launched a national solar energy education program for high schools as their 50th anniversary project called
C OOL PHYSICS
The project was planned to respond to several challenges:
As a response, the Finnish Physical Society is eager to promote problem oriented environmentally conscious project teaching where pupils construct demonstration devices and
measure environmental and technical parameters, both manually and using computer technology. The image of the physicist as the problem maker is expected to change to the image of the physicist as the problem solver by emphasizing the most popular fields of physics, i.e. environmental physics, information technology, and astronomy. A gift physicists can give to schools is the experience gained while teaching innovativeness to graduate university students.
Our approach is in good consensus with many recent educational research studies published in Finland (e.g. J. Kantola, "In the footsteps of Cygnaeus: From handicraft teaching to technological education," PhD thesis, University of Jyvaskyla, 1997).
SCHOOL PHYSICS is also a direct response to the challenge announced by minister of education Olli-Pekka Heinonen to improve scientific skills in schools by the year 2002.
The theme of the sun as the overarching focus will be used in this project because:
The practical steps of the project were the following:
A total of 95 lessons were given by 10 persons (students did much of that but senior university lecturers also took part) and 8 professors from 6 universities opened the road shows. It was estimated that around 3000 people participated in these events, including pupils of high schools and elementary schools, teachers from road show and other schools, university representatives, municipal decision makers and press. Press coverage was abundant (15 articles, more collectively than 4 large newspaper pages) and positive.
In the SOLIS network school pupils will construct demonstration devices and measure their parameters. They make both manual and computerized measurements of environmental parameters, such as solar irradiation; they build sensors and make data acquisition and analysis software (current software is 100% pupil produced).
Teachers and students will communicate nationally and internationally via email, WWW pages, and annual meetings. Project competitions are organized for pupils. Project abstracts and measurement results are sent to other schools to be able to use them as a cradle of ideas for new or repeated projects; this practice also serves as a motivation for pupils because their work may have international exposure.
Sari Nokkanen, Finnish Physical Society University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, Helsinki, FIN-00014 Finland
Ari Lampinen, University of Jyvaskyla Department of Physics, P.O. Box 35, Jyvaskyla, FIN-40351 Finland
NEXT INES COUNCIL MEETING
The 1998 INES Council Meeting is scheduled for
23 - 28 July 1998
Cambridge / Boston, USA
The program will be as follows:
23 July 9.00 - 24 July, 12.30 Workshop on new security concerns and approaches
24 July 16.00 - 26 July, 12.30 Council Meeting
27 July 9.30 - 28 July, 14.30 Topical seminar and excursion on "Sustainability and LOCAL AGENDA 21"
This meeting will be the first INES Council meeting on American ground and should strengthen INES on the American continent.
NEW USA GUIDELINES ON NUCLEAR WARFARE SHOULD BE RELEASED TO PUBLIC
by David Krieger
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He can be contacted at 1187 Coast Village Road, Suite 123, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, or by E-mail at .
New guidelines for the use of U.S. nuclear weapons were signed by the president in November 1997. These guidelines, which are contained in a four-page Presidential Decision Directive (PDD), have not been released to the public. Aspects of the guidelines, however, were leaked to the press and confirmed by administration officials. What is known about the new guidelines include the following:
On the positive side, the new guidelines have eliminated the foolish and hopeless idea that it was possible to fight and win a nuclear war. This is an idea that has been thoroughly discredited, even by President Reagan who stated publicly that "nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought."
It must also be considered positive that, due to the leak, we now know something about these guidelines, and can respond to what has been released. The negative aspects of these guidelines, on the other hand, are substantial. The fact that they were developed in secrecy from the public and Congress is in the best tradition of a totalitarian state. On an issue of such major public importance as strategy for using nuclear weapons, it is reprehensible that no attempt would be made to solicit public or Congressional views.
By indicating that the U.S. will continue to rely for the indefinite future on nuclear weapons for national security, the U.S. is demonstrating its hypocrisy in relation to its promise in 1995, when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was extended indefinitely, to pursue "systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons...." Further, the International Court of Justice ruled in 1996 that the nuclear weapons states had an obligation to "bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects...." Indefinite reliance upon these genocidal weapons is not consistent with their ultimate elimination, nor with the obligation to conclude negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament.
China was strongly critical of the new U.S. policy which increases U.S. targeting of China. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman stated, "Now that the Cold War is already over, the international situation has eased a lot. The United States still possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. It stubbornly sticks to its policy of nuclear deterrence. It goes against the trends of peace, cooperation and development in our world."
The new guidelines reflect the continuation of U.S. policy to rely upon nuclear weapons as a central instrument of national security. These guidelines have not changed our policies of threatened first use or massive retaliation, which at their core are policies of nuclear genocide. First use, when coupled with launch on warning, commits us to risky, hair-trigger deployment of our nuclear arsenal with potentially catastrophic consequences.
The Presidential Decision Directive demonstrates a lack of commitment to the elimination of our nuclear arsenal, as called for by international agreements and international law. The new guidelines will undoubtedly be heavily criticized by the international community, particularly by many of the other 185 parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty when they meet in Geneva in April and May 1998.
It would be appropriate for President Clinton to release in full the four-page Presidential Decision Directive so that the U.S. public can fully consider and debate the policy. U.S. citizens have a right to informed consent on decisions and policies that affect their security and well-being, as this policy surely does. The public and Congress should be involved in the process of determining whether or not the new policy is consistent with basic U.S. values as well as our obligations under international law and the new geopolitical reality brought on by the end of the Cold War. At the same time, it would be instructive to the public to be provided with targeting information for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This would allow U.S. citizens to know what populations are being threatened with mass murder in our names.
While it may be appropriate and desirable for the President to keep details of his personal life from public view, the same cannot be said for policies related to nuclear arsenals that affect the life and future of every U.S. citizen as well as every other person in the world.
On February 21, on behalf of Abolition 2000, David Krieger, President of the Foundation, received more than 13 million signatures on the Abolition 2000 International Petition, collected by Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist organization.
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has issued a tape with two speeches of Peace Nobel Price winner Joseph Rotblat:
"A world without war," and "The social responsibility of scientists."
A word from the Chairman
In the last issue of the Newsletter (November 1997), I wrote about future perspectives of neoliberal market economics and the need for strong value-based constraints. Big multinational companies are important economic and political players. They amplify and influence global technology trends, they spur regional development and provide work and income to their employees. They also embody sheer financial power, overseeing budgets larger than those of many nation states. We need some kind of power and empowerment for structuring and governing complex societies. However, every power needs to be controlled by checks and balances in order to avoid misuse.
This is the issue in the controversy about the upcoming Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which has been confidentially negotiated by the governments of the 29 OECD countries. Many of you might not have heard about MAI before. The lead article in this issue and the sources quoted give you an opportunity to inform yourself and to listen to concerned opinion.
INES is a value-oriented network, emphasizing international peace, a just and sustainable development and a responsible use of science and technology. How do values originate? How can we affirm common values relevant to the future on life on Earth? One of the more recent INES projects focuses on the spiritual dimension of sustainability. Frank Meyberg has provided a report on a conference along these intentions.
The Student Network within INES has organized an internal students' congress "Students' Perspectives of a Sustainable World" on February 13-15 1998 in Dortmund, Germany.
Part of my focus is already oriented on the INES Council meeting, which will be held in Cambridge, Mass., USA, on July 23-28 1998. The formal Council session will be complemented by a workshop on new security concerns an by a discussion / excursion program on "Sustainability and Local Agenda 21."
I am a bit disappointed about the slow response to the offer of complementary funding support through the Special Project Fund. INES member organizations can apply (see Newsletter 20, November 1997).
INES has two new member organizations:
Let me conclude by welcoming all new members and member organizations.
With my best wishes,
Hartwig Spitzer, Hamburg