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"The dictatorship of now": Schellnhuber in Spiegel magazine

03/22/2011 – In the light of the nuclear tragedy in Japan Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, brings forward the idea of a new social contract. In an interview with Spiegel magazine, he explains why the rights of coming generations have to be taken more seriously. “Once for all we have to decide to leave our descendants more than just nuclear risks and climate change”, Schellnhuber says. “This means empathy across space and time.”
"The dictatorship of now": Schellnhuber in Spiegel magazine

Cover of Spiegel magazine, Nr. 12/2011

The post-war periods prosperity model is founded on the assumption that cheap energy and increasing use of materials would make people happier, Schellnhuber says. This is why nuclear power plants are being built in geologically superactive areas, and why we burn a quantity of oil in one year that took 5,3 million years to accrue. ”We are sacking the past as well as the future to achieve present-day abundance”, he says. “This is the dictatorship of now.”

It would cost just a few percentage points of economic output “to deviate from the dangerous path which otherwise leads to new nuclear accidents and unchecked climate change”, Schellnhuber says. “Economic growth up to 2100 would be delayed by six to nine months. Is this price really to high?”

The Scientific Advisory Council on Global Change for the federal government, presided by Schellnhuber, will soon present a master plan for societal transformation, aiming at an increased level of sustainability. This plan is also about concrete measures. “For instance, we have to stabilise our energy consumption on a reasonable level”, says Schellnhuber. “If we began to fully use the potentials of energy efficiency in Germany, we would need at least 30 percent less energy – without being less well off.”

(Click here to read the complete interview.)

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