Heidelberg Appeal

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The Heidelberg Appeal, authored by Michel Salomon and signed by a large number of scientists, is a statement decrying "an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress, and impedes economic and social development." Issued to coincide with the opening of the United Nations-sponsored Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Appeal stated that its signers "share the objectives of the 'Earth Summit'" but advised "the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data. ... The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry."

A version of the Heidelberg Appeal was published in the June 1, 1992, Wall Street Journal over the signatures of 46 prominent scientists and other intellectuals. It has subsequently been endorsed by some 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners. The Appeal was for an anthropocentric assessment of the world's resources and a utilitarian as opposed to abolitionist approach to hazardous substances used or created by technology. It targeted as irrational, by implication, if not explicitly, both a vision of a "Natural State" with intrinsic rights to impede the activities of man, and hysterical fears of environmental poisons, disproportionate to the threat and dismissive of their associated benefits.

The Heidelberg Appeal has been enthusiastically embraced by critics of the environmental movement such as S. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. Conservative think tanks frequently cite the Heidelberg Appeal as proof that scientists reject the theory of global warming as well as a host of other environmental health risks associated with modern science and industry. Its name has subsequently been adopted by the Heidelberg Appeal Nederland Foundation, which was founded in 1993 and disputes health risks related to nitrates in foods and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Heidelberg Appeal was promoted in 1993 by the International Center for a Scientific Ecology, a group set up by Michael Salomon "that was considered important in Philip Morris' plans to create a group in Europe similar to The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC)".

Parts of the Heidelberg Appeal endorse environmental concerns, such as a sentence that states, "We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved." Its 72 Nobel laureates include 49 who also signed the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity", which was circulated that same year by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and attracted the majority of the world's living Nobel laureates in science along with some 1,700 other leading scientists. In contrast with the vagueness of the Heidelberg Appeal, the "World Scientists' Warning" is a very explicit environmental manifesto, stating that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course" and citing ozone depletion, global climate change, air pollution, groundwater depletion, deforestation, overfishing, and species extinction among the trends that threaten to "so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know." Moreover the Heidelberg Appeal has been, if not specifically misrepresented, at least broadly interpreted out of context, for example, by The National Center for Public Policy which asserts "The appeal warns industrialized nations that no compelling scientific consensus exists to justify mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cuts." Although the Heidelberg Appeal may be open to such an interpretation, as the text below shows it is not what the document said.


References

Wikipedia - Heidelberg Appeal

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