(Published in GralsWelt 72/2012)
In the course of my life I have experienced different phases of general awareness:
* Waver between hope and despair during the war.
* A depressed mood after Germany's surrender in May 1945, with occupied land and cities and factories in ruins.
* A hesitant mood of optimism after the currency reform of June 20, 1948.
* Increasing confidence in the construction period of the 1950s.
* Enthusiasm in the 1960s when American optimism reached Europe.
The successes in space travel impressively demonstrated the efficiency of modern science and technology. Together with the permanently low energy prices promised by the nuclear lobby, almost anything now seemed possible![i]
In 1972 I became thoughtful after reading "The Limits to Growth"(5). Now I was made aware of the limitations of our planet. Until then, all I had heard from professors, industrialists, and politicians was continued growth and unlimited future prospects. At that time only a few shared the slowly awakening awareness of the finiteness of our earthly world and thus of the limited resources of our earth.
Then appeared in 1975 "A planet is being plundered" by Herbert Gruhl (3). His bestseller brought about the start of the "Green Movement", initially laughed at by the established parties in Germany.[ii].
Brought another serious warning about the state of the world from an ecological point of view "Global 2000" (2). This one commissioned by US President Carter "Report to the President" appeared in 1980. With President Reagan it ended up in the trash.
In the meantime, the word “ecology”, which was only familiar to biologists before 1972, has penetrated the general vocabulary, and the misconception that the earth's resources are infinite seems to have been overcome. But people often act as if the earth, thanks to our modern technology, could offer any number of people an immeasurably high level of prosperity.
For a few years now there has been a new catchphrase: Eco-dictatorship.
Do we need an “eco-dictatorship”?
This guiding principle is used in two senses and is highly controversial:
In 2011, the red-green government of the university city of Marburg took the energy transition seriously. It passed a building regulation that is unique in Germany: homeowners are obliged to install a solar thermal system if they build a new building or replace their roof or heating. The spokesman for the electricity supplier immediately titled this measure “eco-dictatorship” and the mayor of Marburg was given the title “eco-dictator” (11).
That was the starting shot for a conflict that could be fought across Germany. Because we are faced with a dilemma: The energy turnaround should be accelerated, the power supply without nuclear power, oil and coal must be secured.
But concerns and opposition come from all sides! The lobbyists are getting nervous, the large energy suppliers and network operators fear a slump in profits, refuse to make the investments necessary for the conversion and want to pass the costs and risk on to the taxpayers (1). For many homeowners, the necessary renovation seems too expensive.
The resistance of large parts of the population to the construction of river power plants, overhead lines, solar parks, dams with storage lakes, wind power plants, etc. in their personal environment is increasing. In my home town, a close referendum prevented the construction of a “wood chip heating plant”, one of the thermodynamically and ecologically most favorable alternatives!
"Responsible citizens" do not want to be forced to buy the expensive green electricity, to fill up with Super E-10 gasoline, which is ecologically even counterproductive, to finance the expensive conversion to alternative energy with their taxpayers' money, etc.
Do we need the eco-state?
In the meantime we have come to terms with separating rubbish, bringing bottles to the glass container and replacing the old incandescent lamps with energy-saving lamps. Knowing full well that these are only well-intentioned, more symbolic actions that hardly affect the actual problems of environmental protection and the energy transition.
So what can be done to save the environment?
* One ecologically oriented economy enforce by law?
* Fundamentally change our whole life - from diet to leisure activities? Like, for example, Niko Paech with his "Post-growth economy" (6 and 12) recommends? So cut back on consumption, accept hard cuts in our accustomed lives, go ahead of the rest of the world on a difficult, risky path? With no guarantee that others will follow? Because a small country cannot save the world!
A majority will hardly go along with this option voluntarily. So does an eco-dictatorship or - better - an "eco-democracy", "eco-social market economy", "ecocracy" have to force a change?
The end of the growth mania
“The ideology of industrial society with its ideas of economic growth, constantly rising standard of living and trust in technical feasibility is useless in the long term. We have to rethink and ultimately pursue the goal of a human society in which population size, resource consumption, waste disposal and the environment are fundamentally in a healthy balance.
Above all, however, we must approach life with respect and admiration. We need an ethical system in which nature is not only valuable to human well-being, but is of value in and of itself.
Sir Crispin Tickell, historian and diplomat (4, p. 213).
Is Democracy Failing?
Democratic politicians have a conflict of interest. Your personal primary goal is to be re-elected. On the one hand, they have to sell the voters environmental protection measures which, on the other hand, often do not follow common sense or practical necessities, but are broken up into (lazy) compromises in the tussle between eco-freaks and industry lobbyists. The actual goals often fall by the wayside. The criticisms of the state-imposed measures from various quarters are correspondingly fierce.
Confidence in democratic politicians has suffered severely as a result of the bank crash, corruption, national debt, economic crises and the turbulence in the euro. Even for the environment, not all well-intentioned government measures have so far been effective, and the promised economic successes have often failed to materialize.
For example, the promotion of solar energy made our electricity more expensive and created the promised jobs less here than in China.
Ecocracy: saving democracy
“Ecocracy wants to achieve both: stop the life-threatening destruction of the foundations of life and at the same time preserve our political freedoms. In doing so, it tries what has not been achieved by the previous system: capitalism as we know it up to now is destroying its own ecological and economic basis. Totalitarian socialism, as it was tried out under Soviet direction, only destroyed natural capital faster and more rigorously - and accompanied it with a brutal and unacceptable suppression of human rights.
In doing so, ecocracy is also trying to save democracy. Because the unchecked ecological malaise destroys trust in the ability of the system to act and in the ability of its protagonists to change. A lack of resources, hunger riots and mass migration as a result of ecological destruction are also a threat to our prosperity and thus to civilized conflict. On the other hand, resolute countermeasures against humanity's future questions could also become a sign of hope that a democratic form of society, the future of which is ecocracy, is the closest to having the answers to pressing global problems. " Bernhard Poetter (7, p. 75).
Against this background, it will not be easy to implement a real, effective ecological change in a democratic way. This has to go new ways, take into account many (also contradicting) points of view, and defy all petty and short-sighted, important and nonsensical interests, habits and prejudices in favor of the preservation of nature.
Can we succeed in getting our society enthusiastic about the ecological turnaround? So that saving energy and raw materials is “in” and the pressure on politics comes “from below”? -
This means that democratic, sham-democratic, authoritarian governments around the world are facing their acid test in difficult times. Because in the interests of a peaceful future worth living in, the transition to a democratic “eco-state” must be found globally.
Alternatives for the future
If you follow the economist Prof. Franz Josef Radermacher (8), then we have the choice between three future scenarios:
• Collapse of the ecosystems:
Unfortunately, this collapse cannot be ruled out - if the party-political, power-political, ideological or even warlike "games" continue to dominate in world politics, and the actual questions of life are ignored.
The rule of a few rich over an impoverished, uneducated and powerless masses who, with the help of an eco-dictatorship, are forced to lead a poor life with minimal consumption of resources.
Hopefully, Brazilianization has no chance in democratic states in the age of the Internet, with increasingly better educated and informed populations.
• Eco-social market economy:
Here, through sensible regulation of the market, social equilibrium and good governance, a world worth living in with sustainable development is to be made possible.
Personally, I am an optimist and hope that in the end an “ecological balancing economy” that has already been mentioned several times in the Grail World will prevail, which corresponds to the “eco-social market economy” mentioned by Radermacher. Other authors speak and "ecocracy".
The constraints are increasing worldwide. More and more people are beginning to see that a lot has to change. Even politicians, who astonishingly, but unfortunately experience has shown, are often among the last to recognize the signs of the times, will not be able to permanently ignore better insights and the resulting necessary actions.
Humanity has survived many crises. Our understanding of nature and our technical means are greater than ever before. If we also make ourselves aware of our responsibility for the earth towards the Creator, we should succeed in maintaining a planet worth living in for all inhabitants - plants, animals, people.
You can also read "What apocalypse is coming?"Under" Ecology ").
(1) Der Spiegel 15/2012, p. 22. f.
2) Global 2000, Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt 1980.
(3) Gruhl Herbert, A planet is plundered, Fischer, Frankfurt 1975.
(4) Lovelock James, Gaias Rache, Ullstein, Berlin 2007.
(5) Meadows Dennis, The Limits of Growth, DVA, Stuttgart 1972.
(6) Paech Niko, Sustainable Management, Metropolis, Marburg 2005.
(7) Pötter Bernhard, Way out eco-dictatorship ?, oekom, Munich 2010.
(8) Radermacher, Franz-Josef, Eco-Social Market Economy, oekom, Munich 2011.
Interview with Prof. Radermacher:
The "warm eco-dictatorship":
Solar obligation in Marburg:
Concern about eco-dictatorship:
Ecodictatorship: The German Ghost
[i] Edward Teller (1908–2003), the "father of the hydrogen bomb", was of the opinion that electricity would soon be so cheap that you would only have to pay a basic fee for the connection and the electricity meter in the cellar would be superfluous!
[ii] Dr. Herbert Gruhl (1921–1993), whom I got to know personally, was a member of the Bundestag for the CDU. If he had been made the first environment minister, the CDU would have become the most modern party at the time and the Greens might not have existed in Germany.