INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF
ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS
FOR GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
Newsletter no. 23 October 1998 Editor: Armin Tenner
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The date palm: The princess of a sustainable future Hamed-El-Mously
Apartheids Dr Strangeloves Michael Schaaf
Regional INES Contacts
Building a broader INES Ulrike Otto, Tasseli McKay
New individual members
News from the INES Council Hartwig Spitzer
Impressions of the INES Council - 1 Branka Jovanovic
Impressions of the INES Council 2 Reiner Braun
The ethical crisis of science Hans-Jürgen Fischbeck
THE DATE PALM: THE PRINCESS OF A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Professor Hamed El-Mously is the Director of the Centre for Development of Small-Scale Industries at Ain-Shams University, Cairo, a member organization of INES.
The impending environmental crisis pushes us far beyond limited curative measures to the radical and thorough revision of our patterns of consumption and modes of production. Over and above, the scope of vision and analysis becomes wider. The reductionist approach of technification of issues like sustainable development, and ecofficiency, etc. is more and more rejected. The social and cultural dimensions of these issues are taking more concern. In other words, we need to change ourselves and reconstruct our relations with nature. The dominant utilitarian consumptive uni-dimensional relations with the natural material resources have to be replaced by more or less symbiotic relations with the ecosystem, taken as a whole. This, in turn, widens the sphere of global responsibility for the environment to reach the layman everywhere and stimulate the participation of millions of people from the level of the local community worldwide. This is the context within which I would like to talk about the date palm.
The date palm: A pivot of economic, social and cultural life in the region
Perhaps no other tree has accompanied us along our history as the date palm. There is historical evidence about its existence in Babylon and South Iraq, 4000 BC and in Egypt long before the dynasties. The date palm was one of the pivots of economic and, hence, social and cultural life in this region from ancient times. In ancient Egypt the heads of pillars in temples were made resembling the growing top of the date palm. The date palm appeared frequently on walls of temples in different contexts revealing its significance in life in Egypt. According to Nubian (South Egypt) traditions, when a child is born, they plant a date palm for him. When he has matured, the date palm will have grown to a number of palms, providing a basis for his future economic life. In Upper Egypt each village has evolved beside its life-supporting palm plantations. The date palm is well adapted to our environment. It is grown well in the Nile Valley, where it gives gentle shade against the sun and protection from the wind to crops growing below it. It tolerates the harsh climate of the Sahara, making possible the life of Bedouins; it even tolerates high levels of salinity, growing along the seashore in Egypt. It needs much less water and service and is less subject to diseases and parasites than other trees.
Date, the primary product of the palm, is rich in protein, vitamins, and mineral salts. That is why it represents an essential element of diet for the cultivator himself and his animals (the low-grade date with kernel). All secondary products of the palm result from annual pruning and have essential uses for the cultivator. Thus, no waste results from the growth of the palm. The date palms midribs of grown palms after being woven in a mat using coir ropes are used in roofing. Crates for the transportation of vegetables and fruits are also made from the palm midrib, as well as furniture items, manual fans, doors of gardens and coops for chickens and rabbits.
Midribs of young palms are used in fencing gardens. The midrib is used as floats for fishing nets or for fuel in rural ovens: the ashes being used afterwards in mortar. The leaflets are used after being woven, in mat making, as well as in a very wide variety of baskets for use in the cultivators household, as well as for transportation of various agricultural crops and packing of dates. They are also used for the manufacture of screens for households and as ropes for tying up vegetables. The leaflet fibers are used in the manufacture of crina used for stuffing of upholstered furniture. The coir is being used for making washing and bathing sponges, as well as for the manufacture of ropes for different uses. From coir, rope nets, and bags for the transportation of agricultural crops on camels are being made. Household brooms and fly whiskers are also made from coir. The spadix stem is crushed to obtain very strong fibers for tying up agricultural crops. The spadix stem ends with fruit stalks are used as brooms. Spadix stems of certain palm species were even used for fire making by rubbing. They were also used as coat hangers, and after being sliced into strips, were used for making screens for household use. The palm trunk is being used, after cutting it into halves or quarters as beams for ceilings or walling in rural and desert regions.
Thus, the date palm in our traditions represented an eloquent example of integrated sustainable use of renewable material resources.
The rediscovery of our natural resources: The palm midribs as an example
It is clear from the aforementioned that the date palm found many genuine forms of utilization in our traditional way of life. We, as Third World researchers and intelligentsia have to do our job! We have to direct the forces of imagination and thinking to compose a new vision as how to use our local material resources in relation to both our present and future.
This is what I may call the rediscovery of our natural resources.
As far as the palm midribs are concerned, we found that this raw material is associated with the poor, whether producer (cultivators of palms, rural artisans manufacturing crates, etc.) or consumer (peasants in rural areas and Bedouins in oases). Thus the first step in our methodology consisted of the conduction of tests to determine the physical and mechanical properties of palm midribs and their comparison with the corresponding properties of wood. This is thought as a requalification for this raw material to open new avenues for its use within higher social strata in rural and urban areas.
The research findings have shown that palm midribs enjoy physical and mechanical properties falling within values pertinent to known wood species as spruce and beech.
New avenues for use of the palm midrib Arabesque from palm midribs
The Arabesque (Mashrabiah) handicrafts are a part of our cultural heritage. The Arabesque items are being used in furniture, windows, and partitions. The drastic increase in the price of imported beech wood, usually used for Arabesque, has led to the shrinkage of demand on Arabesque handicrafts. Therefore, it was thought that the replacement of beech wood by the cheap locally available palm midribs may open the way for the revival of Arabesque handicrafts, especially in rural areas. The Centre launched a project on July 2nd, 1995, for the Development of Small-Scale Industries in the Dakhla oases in the New Valley governorate to disseminate Arabesque handicrafts using palm midribs as a raw material. A training centre was established to train the beneficiaries, who obtain their lathes on a loan basis and produce at home. The project has grown great success turning the poor, especially women, to autonomous producers and entrepreneurs and transforming the idea of use of trees pruning products as a substitute for imported wood into reality.
The project opens a great potentiality of dissemination of a new culture of sustainable use of renewable material resources in rural and desert communities in the whole region.
Palm midribs in blockboard
Due to its full reliance on imported spruce wood, the blockboard industry in Egypt is in a critical situation. Therefore, it was decided to direct research to the use of palm midribs as a substitute for spruce in the core layer of the blockboard. The research results have proven that the palm midrib-core blockboard enjoys physical and mechanical properties comparable (and several of them superior to) those for spruce-core blockboard. Therefore, machines were designed and manufactured for the conversion of palm midribs into strips of uniform cross-section for the core layer. The Centre for the manufacture of palm midrib-core blockboards has established a pilot factory in El-Kharga, the New Valley governorate on October 27th, 1993. This new product has been successfully marketed and used in communities school furniture, established all over Upper Egypt by the UNICEF.
Particleboards from palm midribs
It has been proven that the ratio of utilization of palm midribs in Arabesque and blockboard does not exceed 40%. Therefore, research was conducted to use these midrib residues in particleboard manufacture. The results have proven that particleboards manufactured from palm midribs enjoy physical and mechanical properties satisfying the Egyptian particleboard standard 906/1991.
This opens the way of development of a particleboard industry, complementary to Arabesque or blockboard industries, to satisfy the objective of integrated use of the palm midrib.
A lumber-like product from palm midrib
As a response to the acute shortage and high prices of wood in Egypt, a research has been conducted to investigate the possibility of manufacture of a local substitute of solid wood, made from palm midribs. The research results indicate that palm midrib blocks enjoy values of modulus of rupture (MOR) and other mechanical properties similar to those for red pine and spruce.
This opens a great potentiality for use of palm midribs to manufacture products that could substitute imported solid wood in Egypt and the whole Arab region.
This research has been awarded the Euromat-97 conference prize for the best poster, 21023 April 1997, Maastricht.
A super strong material from the palm midrib
The anatomical structure of the palm midrib has shown that the outer layer differs from the inner part of the midrib by a higher density and smaller diameter of the fibro-vascular bundles. This suggests that this outer layer may have better mechanical properties, as compared with the average properties of the midrib. Besides, this layer constitutes an unused residue of the palm midrib-blockboard industry. Thus, research was conducted to determine the tensile strength of the outer 1.5-mm layer of the midrib. The research results (See Table 1) clearly indicate that the outer layer of the midrib enjoys a tensile strength (Ü 25 kg/mm2) comparable with that of commercial steel.
This indicates that the palm midrib outer layer is a super strong material that could find wide applications in industrial composites.
Date palm residues: Future prospects; Substitute DPLM for wood in the Near East
The increase in the environmental concern during the last decades has led to an acute shortage in the available wood in the international market. As an example, in the USA the rate of cutting wood in the federal forests has been decreased to ¼ its value in 1980. Subsequently, this has led to the soaring of wood prices. The main response to the shortage of wood in western countries is found in the tendency to improve the efficiency of utilization of natural timber (e.g. the use of particleboards and medium density fiberboards (MDF) in stead of natural wood, guaranteeing a higher rate of utilization) and / or the use of lower grade wood species in composition panels. The response in Southeast Asian countries was basically to use bamboo and rattan and the agricultural residues of annual crops as a substitute for wood in panels. The range of products range from: blockboards, particleboards, MDF and furniture. The annual size of sales of bamboo and rattan products could be estimated by 4.5 and 7 billion US$ respectively.
As far as wood resources are concerned, the situation in the Arab countries is very critical. Being located mostly in an arid zone, the percentage of forest coverage to the total area is meager: ranging from 0.002 % for Egypt, 0.3 % for Libya, 0.7 % in Saudi Arabia to 3.5 % in Syria, 4.5 % in Tunisia and 22.3 % in Sudan. Thus, we must use, to a maximum, the products of pruning as DPLM as a substitute for imported wood, raising the motto: Substitute DPLM for wood in the Near East.
The leading countries in palm plantations are Iran, Iraq, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. By pruning the palm trees an annual amount of 1.34 millions of tons DPLM and 0.96 million tons of spadix stems dry matter become available.
Table 1 The values of tensile strength and specific tensile strength for DPLM outer layer,
Specific tensile strength
European read pine
New opportunities for palm residues
The growing environmental consciousness, especially after the Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio De Janeiro has created a new situation, in which not only the non-governmental associations, such as the Consumer Associations and environment-action groups like Greenpeace, Milieudefensie, etc. are environment-active, but also the governments! The governments legislation, especially in Europe, gives considerable care to environmental issues. There is now legislation putting great pressure on dumping or incineration of waste and defining what is called: "producer responsibility for recycling of products after use." Among the legislations are the EC-Guidelines "Packaging and waste of packaging," which will be valid for all packaging that will be brought to the European market. A general preferential system worked out stating that preference could be given to products from developing countries, which are produced in a more environmentally friendly way. Within this context, the renewable material resources, such as palm residues may have quite challenging new opportunities in new avenues of utilization. Here are several examples:
Afforestation by palms and not by wood trees
Assuming an average maturation period for a spruce tree of Ü 90 years, a stem diameter of 35 cm, merchantable length of 15 meters, a tapering reduction ratio of 0.60 and a density of 0.38 g/cm2. Thus the useful dry wood crop will be equal to 0.33 ton.
Assuming an average lifetime for a palm of 100 years, the total amount of dry residues will be equal to 3.53 tons.
This means that during its life, a date palm renders a crop of lignocellulosic material more than ten times that of the spruce, in addition to the dates, of course. This opens the way to a new concept of afforestation more appropriate to our regions: afforestation to obtain food and lignocellulosic materials that may serve as wood substitutes and other industrial uses.
Besides and perhaps more important, the date palm points to a new ethos from the environmental perspective: you can obtain your "wood" not by cutting or killing trees, put by serving (pruning) palms. That is why the date palm will be the princess in a sustainable future.
A word from the chairman
As the new chairman of INES, my first task is to thank my predecessor Hartwig Spitzer. When we attended the Congress "Challenges" in 1991 in Berlin, Hartwig stood at the cradle of INES and took the lead in setting up the new network. Up to this summer he held the chair of our organization, and the extension of the network to five continents and 87 member organizations was largely due to his intense dedication and endeavour. During a heavy loaded career as an experimental physicist at the University of Hamburg, he found time to travel around, preparing congresses and meetings, and discussing with people the subjects of peace and sustainability. We know for sure that these activities will not end when he stands down from the chair, but that he will continue devoting his effort to the tasks of INES.
In this issue of the Newsletter you will find the optimistic leading article of Hamed El-Mously, showing an attempt to create a friendly environment and to reach sustainability. It comes from a region, which we like to denote as "the South" or "the Third World." His effort to found an industry on local sources and for local needs has to resist the ideology of free economy that prevails in the Western countries. The free market has no feeling for local optimization of the production methods; it generally tends to sacrifice the products of local crafts in replacing them by export articles from the richer countries.
In this issue you also read the embarrassing report about the development of poisonous weapons in South Africa. Facts are revealed that we may have anticipated but never could imagine.
A large part of this issue is devoted to this Years Council meeting in Cambridge, USA. Together with the workshop about security before and the demonstration of future planning after the actual meeting, it gave a lot of new information. It becomes clear that the recent upsurges of dangers and conflicts in the world and the increasingly more cumbersome way our society proceeds, leads to a tougher formulation of opinions, also in INES.
There are several activities that will need our support and inven tiveness in the coming years. From 11 to 16 May 1999 the Hague Appeal conference will be held. You will all get an invitation to register for this conference. We will participate in the program of this conference by organizing three workshops in the parallel sessions. The subjects of the workshops are: "The ethical crisis of science", "New military technologies and their future impact on peace and security," and "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world."
We hope to realize two topical meetings in 1999 in areas in Eastern Europe and continue our INES projects. In the year 2000 we will have our big congress in Stockholm about which you find some information in the Council meeting report.
At the end, I wish to welcome the three new individual members of INES
Armin Tenner, Amsterdam
Apartheids Dr Strangeloves
South Africa has witnessed decades of ethnically motivated oppression crimes and violence. The hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission under Archbishop Desmond Tutu present a worldwide unique public forum that tries to listen to both victims and actors.
Very recent hearings disclosed shocking news about a secret biological and chemical anti-personnel weapons program. Michael Schaaf, a member of the German Scientists Initiative "Responsibility for Peace" has followed the work of the Commission during several visits to South Africa and has contributed the following report.
Hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) last month in Cape Town revealed what was likely to be the countrys most secret weapons project during the Apartheid time. Operation Coast was the code name of the South African Defense Forces chemical and biological weapons programme (CBW).
Head of the CBW programme was Dr. Wouter Basson, then a military doctor with the rank of a colonel. Basson, a cardiologist, was once the personal doctor to former state president P.W. Botha. In 1983 Basson asked Dr. Daan Goosen, respected vegetarian and director of animal research at the University of Pretoria, to set about establishing a world-class research laboratory near Roodeplaat and recruiting top scientists to work there.
The aim was to develop undetectable ways of murdering political opponents. TRC chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu described the evidence the commission heard from Goosen, Basson, and others as "the worst" he had heard in the TRCs two-year lifetime. The Roodeplaat scientists produced enough cholera and gave it to Bassons agents to start a major epidemic. Potentially lethal bacteria such as anthrax were applied to cigarettes and chocolates. Beer bottles were laced with deadly doses of rat poison and weed killer. Food-poisoning bacteria, which induce heart failure, were added to drinks, and salmonella, which induces typhus fever, was mixed into sugar.
T-shirts were laced with cantharidence, a strong irritant, and distributed at an End Conscription Campaign meeting. The clothes of former general secretary of the South African Council of Churches Rev. Frank Chikane were contaminated with the lethal poison paraoxon. A Russian adviser to the ANC was murdered in Lusaka by planting anthrax spores in his food, and a conscript "with ANC sympathies" was killed with snake venom. Experiments were made to enrich smoke bombs with drugs like ecstasy or mandrax to "pacify" demonstrators. Basson and his scientists also discussed the possibility of poisoning Nelson Mandela with a brain-damaging substance before his release to make him less a factor as a leader.
The government scientists had even investigated the possibility of developing ways of poisoning people on the basis of the pigmentation of their skin and tried to make substances to reduce the fertility and virility of blacks.
Asked by the TRC about his motivation, Goose said: "We were in a climate of war. The politicians talked all the time about the total onslaught." Former president F.W. de Klerk claims that he first heard of the project a month before South Africas first democratic election in April 1994. A statement that remains questionable not only due to the fact that Basson had enjoyed the trust of top officials in the SADF and the South African government.
At the end of the century it seems as if Joseph Mengele reincarnated. The South African scientists of evil show us once again how important it is to raise and discuss the question of the responsibility of the scientists again and again.
Stuttgart, July 1998
Building a Broader INES
A project to ensure the continuing viability of INES through the recruitment of female membership and the application of a gender balanced perspective to its sustainable development work.
At Stockholm 2000
Use the meetings of the working group on "Women, Science and Development Perspectives" to catalyze a new INES project aimed at the following:
’ A BIGGER, STRONGER INES!!
NEWS FROM THE INES COUNCIL by Hartwig Spitzer
The INES Council met on 24 - 26 July 1998 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 26 members and 3 guests from 16 countries attended a lively although somewhat tiring meeting. The weather was hot and humid and we had to change the meeting place twice in order to cut on room rental costs.
Several of the INES PROJECTS were presented in a poster session.
For information contact Ulrike Otto:
Some seven tons of used computers, scientific instruments and books have been collected in Germany for shipment to Nepal. The Council approved INES participation in this project. It is hoped to spread the project to other (donor) countries.
Prof. Armin Tenner (chair),
Dr. David Krieger (deputy of chair),
Dr. Dieter Meissner (treasurer),
Dr. Esmat Ezz (Egypt), Dr. Alla Jaroshinskaya (Russia), Prof. Luis Masperi (Argentina), Prof. Jirí Matouaek (Czechia),
Dr. Marc Ollivier (France), Ulrike Otto (Germany), Prof. Lars Rydén (Sweden), Prof. Hartwig Spitzer (Germany).
Hartwig Spitzer had expressed his wish to step back from the chair after over six years of service as chairman.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE INES COUNCIL MEETING IN CAMBRIDGE
The INES Council meeting in Cambridge was an exciting experience for many of us. To show something of the variety of feelings, we bring the impressions of two participants. We start with the report of Branka Jovanovic, member of the INES Council and of the Yugoslav "Peace Ecological Initiative," which is a member organization of INES.
Let me begin by telling something about our Belgrade initiative, "Responsibility for the Future." Scientists, philosophers, journalists, writers, and ordinary citizens are involved. In the declaration of our program we state that science has been the most important instrument of the prosperity of mankind and at the same time one of the most serious causes of its worst catastrophes. Our initiative has one very strict basic principle: absolute political and financial independence of our government. This is not because contacts with our officials might discredit us. It is for us a question of the real purpose of an NGO. We are convinced that only the slightest dependence on official sources could be a starting point for compliance between science and political power. For science that would be, a priori, a lost game.
For the first time I participated in a meeting of the INES Council. This gave me a very important opportunity to see the different approaches of our colleagues to the global problems and specific local tasks.
It is no longer possible to reflect on the role of science without the critical recognition that it belongs to the power structures, which have caused the deepest crisis in our history. Our notion of science needs to be corrected. It has proved to be one of the most important instruments of oppression because it has created the frame within which the power centres that are destroying the world can operate. This role of science is not a matter of the ethical position of individual scientists, but of the historical and philosophical principles behind our notion of rationality. Our rationality does not see the essence of the human being as free and responsible. It shares the same patterns as political structures. That is why we of the Belgrade movement believe that science is not a matter for our policy makers. We have seen too many examples of the misuse of science by policy and too many examples of scientists who have not been able to reject a role in the terrible system of breaches of the whole spectrum of social rights, the essential part of human rights. Many of them are now contributing to maintaining conditions in the world, which cause injustice and poverty to most of the people on our planet.
We live in an age when people have been deprived of their role as masters of their own destiny. Citizens are in most cases only the objects of manipulation. They are badly informed about their society and about developments in the world. They are the victims of the decisions of concealed power structures, and are not helped by scientists whose proper task would be to unearth and expose the hidden processes in our communities. Our elitist attitude to science disguises the lack of transparency of vertical social structures, which have their roots not in great values and ideals but in pure power. Science should not be a matter for scientists alone. It is a matter for simple people, because we have to live with the consequences of the big dealings of science and policy.
I had a strong impression during the meeting that our young German colleagues were insisting on this philosophical point of view. They tried to draw our attention to the institutional structure of science, its vertical organization, which is unable to create a free community of scientists because of its inherent connection with the spirit of authority. I did not interpret their wish to have more women in INES just as a matter of fashion or as a mechanical enriching of INES. I think they tried to explain that some feminist theories have their origins in different perceptions of history and of our picture of the world, which could be a starting point for building a different foundation for science.
I must admit, that I was very surprised at the opposite position of some American colleagues. They shared essential viewpoints with the government of the US. I can partially accept the argument about the importance of collaboration with authority if it gives any slight possibility of directly influencing official structures and thereby shortening the long way we need to go to find the solutions of enormously serious global problems. I must say, though, that I did not see in their position the critical distance from the official picture of the world, used to justify the steps of the US government, even those steps that are strongly criticized by INES. The challenges and threats in our world are not divided between the US and the rest of the world in such a way that the US is only the object of dangerous movements, end developments in other parts of our planet. Many acts of American officials belong to the gravest challenges and threats in our world.
I cannot understand that we have not heard in our meeting one critical word about the criminal activities of American banks in East Asia, which have caused the total breakdown of national economies and poverty of millions of people. To the contrary, those poor people were extensively described as one of the most serious sources of terrorism, threatening the US and its citizens.
I would summarize my impression of some speeches as follows: they have a vision of global problems which in general would suit Zbigniew Brezinski and his theory of the leading role of the US in the era of new challenges, and its special responsibility for the rest of the world and its peoples, who are apparently irresponsible. I missed in the talks respect for a horizontal system of solidarity of scientists. We have had very painful experiences with the consequences of the strategic policies protecting the interests of USA or EU. I am not convinced that the deeply felt appeals of our colleagues from South America and Russia were really understood. Just knowing the facts about the poverty of scientific institutes and the general social misery in these countries does not constitute the proper reaction of solidarity.
But this disturbs me less than disconnecting the question of global problems from their roots in capitalism as a social system. It is based on an unjust internal social and global world order. It is absolutely destroying ecological foundations and the substance of human life.
The influence on the American political establishment regarding disarmament and the destruction of chemical or nuclear weapons is a very important issue in the engagement of our colleagues. But they do not speak about the historical and political connection between the social system, its values, and the struggle for power in the world, which bring advantages only to the very small class of rich people in their country.
The problem of INES can be the close contact with those structures, which are not ready to make fundamental changes to the capitalist system. It causes all those problems, which are at the focus of the criticisms of INES. We just have the illusion that we contribute fundamentally to new thinking of the ruling elite. In reality we just disguise, with our excellent actions and critical rhetoric. It is not a pretty image.
I will here quote: "Even slower news & is the nuclear re-arming of the world. People rightly regard the peace dividend as a bad joke, but what they do not know is that all the nuclear powers are upgrading their nuclear arsenals at such a furious pace that the old Cold War might just as well have never ended. The first strike nuclear arms programmes set in train by Ronald Reagen and George Bush have not missed a beat under Bill Clinton. Only one relatively minor air-to-ground missile has been cancelled."
I believe the remark of our colleague Valerij Petrosjan was right when he said that INES has to return from such topics as challenges and take up its most important task: to reflect on the global responsibility of science and scientists. Nobody tried to bring in the connection of his criticism to the influence of a kind of thinking that I have encountered in magazines such as "National Interests" or "Foreign Affairs" written by Ronald Asmus, Joseph Nye, James Kurth, Bernard Lewis, and others. Implicit of the worldview of these writers is that the American nation is the best of all possible nations, an ideal country with no existential problems. The legitimate goal of American policy is therefore not justice, not peace, but world hegemony.
Our most important topic: New strategy and enlargement of NATO to the frontiers of Russia was not treated seriously. It was more than a failure of our agenda: In my opinion it was the lack of sensitivity and of an open mind for the most serious concerns, expressed by Alla Jarushinskaja. INES must have a clear position against NATO on the level of its Council and be very engaged in activating this position on all occasions, such as big meetings and contacts with journalists. It is of an exceptional significance that NATO stays on the agenda of the meetings of the INES Council. There is a difference between our colleagues from North America and those from Europe and South America.
I have the unpleasant impression that INES can be the used as a platform for the support of idealistic pictures of the US government and of its real goals today. This is not an enlightened government at all, interested in allaying our concerns. Under the surface of humanistic rhetoric, which sounds similar to the rhetoric of our INES colleagues, they have a very rough way of pushing through the selfish national interests of the most militant circles in US. The way the US government defends the interests of the US and the new geo-political and geo-economical theories of its most important geo-political institutions is one of the greatest problems of contemporary history.
But the hospitality of our American colleagues was wonderful. They organized very good meetings with officials in Boston and with The Association of Concerned Scientists. Paul and Deborah Walker were very friendly hosts in their home.
We must be very careful because INES is financially supported by NGOs from America, which are very close to its government. INES is really a very important network with significant influence and tasks, which means a real chance for many small countries. It can be seriously endangered by receiving money from official sources which back unacceptable policy, clearly visible by the negative reaction of the same government to signing very important international documents about the ecological topics or international justice. INES must avoid the situation of becoming an instrument of influence of a very important scientific elite in other countries. If the US government pays for their only network, the scientists of the Third World countries will lose this exceptional platform where they can speak out with dignity about the many reasons they have to criticize the official policy of the US. I understand very well that INES is in the process of enlargement and that this causes chaos in the meetings. The new members want to be presented or informed about the principles and experiences of INES, the old ones want to finish their work. But some things must be done. The Hague and Stockholm Conferences are very important for INES and we have to invest additional efforts to bring more structure in our approach to them.
A second impression of the Council meeting comes from Reiner Braun, Executive Director of INES.
The academic surroundings of Harvard, one of the world renowned universities, the suburban setting of Cambridge, the liberal climate of metropolitan Boston made for a pleasant location of this years INES-Council Meeting. This was certainly one of the most complicated council meetings ever, since financial considerations forced us to organize everything ourselves, ranging from travel and commuting arrangements to catering and lodging. On the other hand, it was a rewarding challenge that I think the helpers around Paul Walker and Tassi met quite well as they worked with us to make it all happen.
What were the essentials of the Council Meetings in my perception?
The most notable thing was that we have made progress preparing the INES 2000 conference at Stockholm and have made an effort to develop a programme in many hours of controversial, sometimes heated and repetitive debates. We have learned how difficult it is to agree on a programme for a conference that puts science itself up for debate and strived to find answers of its own to the pressing challenges of the 21st century. It is much easier to talk about others than about oneself. That realization was driven home to me at the Council Meeting. There will be no way around but to continue this process in the weeks and month to come, to develop a programme that will stand up to these challenges. Another significant point has been that we could sum up a very successful development of INES. Paul Walker reminisced at the barbecue dinner how it all started when we founded INES in 1991. Nobody anticipated back then that INES would develop as well as it has, that we would achieve the currently almost 90 member organizations, that we would be able to conduct a great deal of working groups and projects and would host many interesting conferences. All of which has been achieved ever since and attests, as the retiring Chairman Hartwig Spitzer justly pointed out, to the accomplishments of both the Council and the Executive Committee. This success is reflected in the optimistic plans for the future and manifests itself in the meetings protocol and other documentation. INES is an internationally accepted, non-governmental organization whose contacts with the United Nations and UNESCO can certainly be extended drawing on their already favourable developments in the past. Working groups of INES act as consultants to international committees. We are involved in interesting international projects, for instance the Hague Peace Project and NPT verification conferences. But with all these activities going on some serious reflections on the future of INES are in order as well and that aspect seemed to me somewhat neglected at the conference. One major aspect of the topic future is to find ways to raise public awareness for issues of sustainability and turn them into social issues, issues like how do "Sustainability and Social Topics" and "Sustainability and Peace" influence each other and depend on each other. Unfortunately, we had only limited time available to discuss these topics at the Council Meeting. A certainly very positive input for our future discussions were the two workshops respectively on global security and sustainability with the case study Boston. Even though one does not necessarily have to concur with all the views presented on that occasion, there were many interesting ideas among them deserving further thought.
Personally, I considered one point particularly significant at this Council Meeting. It was the trading of ideas how INES shall present itself in the upcoming millennium, how we can achieve rejuvenation, and how INES can assume a more feminine presence and nature. I have come to know all the colleagues who have held executive positions in the last couple of years really well and I have turned friends with quite many of them. Nevertheless, I am convinced that both Council and Executive Committee are in dire need of changes. We do need critical young minds, not to replace the experience and wisdom of the elderly but to augment it. That is what is currently missing at INES. I have taken the initiative at the Council Meeting to get a development on track that David Krieger has called an evolutionary process of rejuvenation and change. I am not 100% happy with the result but I hope the message came across loud and clear. The message is that we must rejuvenate both the Executive Committee as well as the Council and nominate women into both of them until the year 2000. This involves, and I am fully aware that this applies for my own position as well, to put the position of Executive Director up for disposal. The objective can only be achieved if all those who read this will join in the effort, if the member organizations come forward with proposals how to attract younger representatives into the Council, if we all trade some ideas on how to appeal to younger members as individuals to take up a Council position, and if we do some joint brainstorming to come up with some unconventional approaches never even thought of and much less tried before.
INES lives off its vitality and this very vitality demands that younger women and men get their chance and be judged realistically knowing that they probably cannot live up to all our wishful expectations.
These considerations were characteristic for the Cambridge Council Meeting and the ad-hoc committee for rejuvenation will make a determined effort to promote them in the future. There are enough projects for the future and ideas for projects even more so. The meeting in Stockholm poses a great challenge to us. Taking care of the daily business is an arduous task by itself and I am very grateful to Armin Tenner as the new Chairman for taking charge of achieving these objectives. Last, not least, I like to extend my gratitude to Hartwig Spitzer for his support and close partnership as we both laboured hard to prepare the ground for INES and get it on track.
The tracks are pointing towards further development. Still, INES is leaving too many of its numerous opportunities idle. I hope to meet and meet again as many of you as possible in Vienna for the next Council Meeting.
The Ethical Crisis of Science by Hans-Jürgen Fischbeck
Workshop of the Evangelical Academy Mülheim in cooperation with the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES) during the citizens congress "The Hague Appeal for Peace" on 13 - 14 May 1999 in The Hague (Netherlands).
Science allowed itself to be abused for the construction of increasingly dreadful weapons. Nowhere else more scientific intelligence was employed than for developing methods of mass extinction of people. It seems that science, that to its own self-understanding is dedicated to the search for truth, contributed more to endangering and even destruction of life on earth than to its protection and prosperity. According to Bertolt Brechts Galileo Galilei, scientists appear to be a "species of creative dwarfs who can be hired for anything." This is an ethical disaster, indeed. The responsibility for that cannot simply be shifted to the customers in politics, military or economy by claiming science to be value-free and, hence, ambivalent. Scientists have to ask themselves how and why things went wrong and how this can be prevented in the future.
Now the "return of values into science" has been demanded (Lepenies). Remembering Kant, a new "way out of self-encumbered immaturity" is asked for. This means that a deep ethical-epistemological crisis of science took place, which demands a "new enlightenment." As described by Ulrich Beck, science is conducted in a "system of structural irresponsibility" so that urgently structures of responsibility should be developed. Science needs an "institutionally strengthened and ensured moral-political backbone in order still to be able to do decent research at all" (Ulrich Beck).
This is a comprehensive complex of questions that by far cannot be dealt with in a one-and-a-half-days workshop. On the other hand, more specific problems cannot properly be considered without being aware of the context of history of ideas and of the horizon of contemporary issues. It is the aim of this workshop to become aware of these background dimensions of scientific work today.
Europe is the continent where modern science arose in the course of the enlightenment. Therefore, it should be a first-rank European task to develop a "criticism of instrumental reason" (Horkheimer) just for contemporary science. Our workshop wants to contribute to this task. It is divided into three half-days:
The first half-day shall deal with the history of reason since the enlightenment from points of view of sciences and humanities as well. It is a history in which the three-fold reason, as seen by Kant in his famous criticisms, degenerated into a merely "instrumental reason," which then decayed into something like conflicting "reasons of interests" (postmodernism).
In the second half-day the relation between science and armament research shall be described and discussed as the sharpest expression of a subservient "instrumental reason."
The focus of interest of the third half-day shall be the question of a possible reintegration of reason as a "reason of sustainability." The question shall be discussed, which "structures of responsibility" would be necessary and how we can promote it.
Six outstanding scientists from several European countries will be invited to give statements as start off for discussions. The detailed textual timing will be discussed on the next meeting of the INES Ethics Committee in January in the Evangelical Academy Mülheim.