Energy Ethics

Around the topic of energy there many ethical issues that urgently need sorting out. Carlos Diaz-Rodriguez and co-authors have provided a sound basis for such ethical considerations. To leave the disastrous path of energy provision through polluting fossil fuels and, additionally very risky, nuclear energy, they propose a departure from the principles and values that have guided us into a dead end. In their opinion we suffer from a mistaken belief to be able to control in extremis, through scientific methods, the forces of nature. In ethics this mistaken belief has roots in religious beliefs that mankind is mandated to make the earth subordinate to its own will. The authors propose to overcome this old paradigm with a new paradigm. This builds on the (1) “precautionary principle”, (2) justice as equity, (3) protection and the (4) principle of responsibility.
Most European readers of philosophy and social science are familiar with these principles. The virtue of the paper is to expose and juxtapose these principles in a clear format and a stringent application to the ethics of energy (production as well as consumption of it).
The precautionary principle is part of the European treaty on the functioning of the European Union Art. 191, but its implementation on energy issues reveals that it is a tiger without teeth. Younger generations across the globe are right to claim a more forceful implementation of this principle.
The perspective of justice as equity is bringing in later born generations as well into the balance costs and benefits of “cheap energy today” but huge costs of dismantling, repairing, stocking deferred to the future.
The protection principle refers to the loss of biodiversity and exploiting resources in areas of world heritage, for example.
The principle of responsibility goes beyond the judicial and economic principle that the person, company or state causing damage through exploitation of resources, and in producing energy with it, has to pay for repairing those damages.
As this is hard to achieve in real terms, there is an urgent need to reiterate the responsibility principle at all levels. Despite the inefficiencies of legal systems, the international legal order in particular, there is no way around than to insist on responsibility from the individual behaviour, company strategic goals as well as objectives set by nation states and international organisations. The Paris agreement and all COP XY conferences only prove the fact that irresponsibility continues to be a guiding principle.
Maximalist positions as well as continuing like decades before is failing people on earth. Organising a discourse on these ethical issues is a first step, but we have to be able to address negationists as well.
The missing principle so far is the solidarity principle. Without a firm commitment to intergenerational and international solidarity we shall remain unable to solve the ethical puzzle. It is high time to organise solidarity related to the field of energy.
(Image: “The fallen tree of knowledge” by Fabrice Samyn. Exposition in Yerres, France 2021-11)


Drowning is a largely underestimated risk. 2.5 million people die of drowning in 10 years according to the WHO. low and middle income countries have the highest drowning rates. However, remedies like teaching how to swim and to assess drowning risks at an early age can make a huge difference. Flooding as natural disaster causes high numbers of casualties, but even in such extreme weather conditions survival strategies involve drowning prevention.

Even in the richest countries drowning is still a reality. Life guards cannot prevent the most irresponsible behavior like drinking alcohol, taking drugs and drowning risks. Overestimating one’s own swimming capabilities is yet another reason for drowning in wealthy countries. Try floating your body with as little movement as possible and you slowly enhance your capabilities to survive in dangerous water conditions. This increases your self-confidence to master tricky situations. Panic in water is surely not helpful. Learning how to help others in danger is for well-trained rescuers or professionals.


Strand kann so schön sein. Am besten mit viel Sonnenschutz. Das können dann auch schon mal Wolken sein. Das reduziert die UV-Strahlung ganz erheblich. Warum gerade dann besonders wenige Personen am Strand anzutreffen sind, werde ich nie verstehen. Regenschauer und Regenbogen verbessern die Luft und sorgen für Glücksgefühle. Wolkenformationen sind nicht nur attraktiv für romantische Personen, sondern auch für Hobby- Meteorologen. Das sind wir doch irgendwie im tiefsten Inneren alle mit dem täglichen Blick auf 1-2 Wetterapps für die Prüfung der Wetteraussichten. Beim Walking am Strand ist eben etwas für alle Sinne dabei. Cryothérapie inklusive.

Nächste Welle

Die Surfenden unter uns wissen, „nach der Welle ist vor der (nächsten) Welle“. Altes Surferlatein, etwas abgenutzt, zugegeben. Aber in Zeiten mit Coronavirus #Covid_19 und der δ-Variante ist das #nichtLustig. Wer bekommt wann die 3. Impfung, das ist die Frage, überlegte schon Hamlet. Aus Hamlet ist längst die „Hamlet Machine“ geworden. Eine Armada von Modellierenden versucht Prognosen von Wellen und deren Auswirkungen vorherzusagen, denn riesige Finanzströme folgen solchen Projektionen. Haben sie noch keine Biotechnologieaktien in ihrem Depot, die mRNA Impfstoffe produzieren? So als Absicherung gegen höhere Krankenversicherungsbeiträge oder pandemiebedingte Risiken. Lassen wir uns also einfach das dritte Mal jetzt impfen und wir kommen höchstwahrscheinlich relativ unbeschadet durch den Winter. Die Feier zum 8-ten März werden wir wohl wieder ausfallen lassen oder verschieben, aber das ist Teil des „new normal“.

FT 24.8.2021 on δ

737 Max 8 and Science

The 346 persons who died in crashes of the fairly new airplanes of Boeing 737 Max have nothing to gain from the ex-post evaluation of the crash. The journal “Scientific American” published an interview with a former Boeing employee who puts a relationship of the two crashes into doubt. The article in the online version of the 13th of March by Mrs. Gohd is full of stereotypes rather than scientific information. This puts science or science journalism into a bad light. Please read for yourself (Link here).
Let’s wait for the black box to be read! and then judge, but not wait for further casualties please. The “precautionary principle“, to protect persons from harm for example by introducing not suffienctly testes new technology, makes a lot of sense in the aviation industry. That’s why the EU might be slower in the adoption of some innovations, but is more likely to avoid fatal accidents as a consequence of hasty innovation.

Rodin’s famous sculpture sums up the need and grief to think twice before you act. Mourning of the dead due to neglect of sufficient thought prior to action included. At least, this is  my modern interpretation of this piece of art with respect to responsibility and the precautionary principle.
(Foto taken in Stockholm, Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde  art museum).