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Protection of the Environment, and Animal Rights

The PDSJ condemns every type of damage to the environment which goes beyond that absolutely inevitable in the course of the conduct of a modern, mobile collective human life.

We stand for a sustained effort to preserve the diversity of animal species, a stance which also implies a holding to the principle that medical and other experimentation on animals should be kept to the absolutely indispensable minimum.

It is an irrecusable duty of the present-day inhabitants of the earth to maintain the planet in such a condition that it may be inhabited with the same joy a thousand or then thousand years from now as today.

Atomic Energy

Even if atomic power stations meeting European safety standards can be demonstrated to constitute a safety risk lying well within the limits of the acceptable, there are still at least 3 reasons why we should be attempting to phase out our use of atomic power as an energy source:

  1. The uranium necessary to the operation of such power stations is available only in very limited quantities.

  2. Atomic power stations produce such a high thermal discharge that their operation contributes very considerably to climate change.

  3. No solution - indeed, not even the rudiments of one - has yet been found to the problem of how to dispose of the waste from such stations, which remains radioactive for thousands of years.

A degree of safety may be offered over the next few decades by the storage of such waste in old mine-shafts, but no serious scientist is prepared to make prognoses regarding what will become of such waste during the next 500 oder 1000 years.

Given, however, that such substances can remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years, it is precisely for such periods that prognoses are required. The consequences are unthinkable of such waste finding its way into the ground water - even if such leakage were to occur at some point thousands of years in the future.

The safe and sustainable disposal of those masses of atomic waste alone which have already accumulated and been temporarily stored represents a great future challenge for the human race.

Generating and Saving Energy

As in the case of all measures taken in politics, there must be considered, in taking measures intended to protect the environment, what effects the measures in question will have on the social and global whole. This global and synoptic manner of thinking, which takes into account also the longer-term effects, is exactly what has been lacking in all almost all political decisions taken, and basic concepts proposed, in recent years.

The PDSJ is concerned above all to oppose and reverse this trend.

And precisely in matters of energy generation such an approach is absolutely necessary if serious long-term errors are to be avoided.

Let us look here just at the single example of solar power:

When all factors are taken into consideration, a solar cell unit tends, applied in a geographical situation like ours in Central/Northern Europe, to generate, measured over its whole operative lifetime, just about exactly the same amount of energy as was required to manufacture said unit in the first place. And this setting aside the question of the waste products and emissions produced in the process of said manufacture. Nevertheless, the technology here in question is currently being subsidized to the tune of millions of euros.

We encounter similar nonsense in the area of the subsidization of wind-energy installations.

Certainly, both these latter technologies have much to be said for them - but it is ridiculous to propose them as substitutes for existing atomic or conventional power-stations.

The key to a system of power generation with a sustainable future is a combination of thermal-based solar power installations with geothermic power. Both of these energy sources are present in practically inexhaustible quantities, do no harm to the environment, cost nothing and can be tapped at any point on the globe.

What is geothermic power? It concerns the exploitation of the natural warmth present in the interior of the planet. The method of this exploitation is the following: two boreholes of approx. 4 kilometres in depth are drilled into the earth; water is pumped into one of these, which then, heated under high pressure to temperatures of 200°C - 300°C, rises once again out of the second borehole and acts as propelling force for a turbine producing electricity.

Afterward, this same water can be applied, cooled down, to district heating purposes (this, in contrast to the situation at atomic power stations, is merely an option) before it is pumped once again into the initial borehole.

This procedure also makes available so-called „process heat“, for example for the chemical industry.

Since the thermal energy of the earth itself is practically limitless and is available at no cost at all, the large-scale technical production of hydrogen is a relatively unproblematic affair. The hydrogen so produced can then replace the energy sources used until now - oil, petrol, natural gas, and coal - without giving rise to the harmful emissions associated with these latter. Where a catalytic convertor or muffler is also applied, all that will be emitted by the chimneys or exhaust pipes of power stations or automobiles run on this system will be harmless steam.

When one considers that the world’s oil reserves are likely to last only another 30-50 years (depending on the speed of development of the Chinese economy) then it is certainly high time that we introduce new forms of energy generation that will be less damaging to the environment.

On the economic plane, the development of geothermic facilities would surely prove a big success on the export market and thus bring still further advantages.

In terms of foreign affairs, the end of our reliance on oil thus achieved would have both advantages and disadvantages: countries like Germany would become, indeed, self-reliant in terms of energy needs; for the OPEC states, however, this would mean the collapse of the mainstay of their economies.

In the interest of world peace, then, steps would have to be taken to ensure that these states were not left completely „out in the cold“ and appropriate measures introduced to ease the changes that would be brought about in the conditions of their economic survival.

Where the necessary steps are taken to introduce such new and sustainable forms of energy production as that just outlined, the problem of saving energy certainly becomes a much less urgent and serious one. Nonetheless, stress must continue to be placed on this theme of saving energy wherever possible - if only in view of considerations related to the problem of wasted heat.

The paths and procedures which are already being followed must be held to consistently and further developed.

These would include, for example, the broader and broader application of solar power collecting installations for the heating of water for daily use, the proper insulation of buildings, sensible architectural solutions in this respect included in all buildings newly erected, and the development of energy-saving solutions in respect of traffic and transport.

Many ideas being proposed in this area at present lack the global and synoptic perspective referred to above. Let us take as an example the policy of the special disposal of recyclable waste:

In many parts of the country, people who wish to dispose of their plastic waste in this way must take it themselves to the designated collection point. Since the majority of them tend to use their cars to do this, the savings in energy and raw materials that were aimed at tend not to be achieved; indeed, the effect is often just the opposite one.

This is a reminder that all measures relevant to the protection of the environment must be checked and, where necessary, corrected from the point of view of their longer-term effects on the whole social and natural system.

Genetic Engineering

There is hardly another sphere of human endeavour which presents, so closely entwined, the aspect of both curse and blessing as the sphere of so-called „genetic engineering“.

The positive opportunities which the scientific manipulation of gene structures offer in the medical realm, for example, must definitely not be left unexploited; on the other hand, however, no effort must be spared in order to remove the enormous risks which any such manipulation has, by its very nature, to involve.

We should have no illusions about the fact that anyone who undertakes to engage in such manipulation of genes is indeed, in a very real sense, „playing God“.

And no one who „plays God“ can be allowed to be motivated or influenced therein by any financial interest, since money, as is well known, tends to undermine character…..

This is why the PDSJ defends the position that there should be no granting of patents on plant or animal species, sperms or egg-cells, or on any other form of biological life.

Genetically altered crops and foodstuffs must in every case be clearly designated as such and the cultivation of such crops and foodstuffs on common or open land must be avoided or, at the very least, radically restricted, since there appears to be no necessity, at present, that such a form of cultivation be generally adopted.

In the sphere of stem-cell research conducted on embryos the very highest and strictest ethical standards are to be applied; hesitancies and inconsistencies in policy on such matters are to be avoided at all costs.

The presently-applying regulations, for example - whereby the removal of stem-cells is, in principle, forbidden but experimentation on stem-cells already removed and imported into Germany from abroad - are surely morally reprehensible in the highest degree.

One must either draw and hold to the firm and clear conclusion that research on stem-cells is ethically indefensible - and ban such research completely.

Or one must draw and hold to the conclusion that such research can be ethically defended - and consequently freely permit, also within the country, that removal of such stem-cells which is a precondition of said research.

It is perfectly clear that the stance being presently taken - namely, that, since someone else has already taken the ethically dubious step of actually removing and making available the stem-cell and this latter is now de facto available for research, there is no reason why we should not go ahead and conduct it - represents a despicable form of moral „double standards“.

It is indeed true - regrettably - that this is by no means the only one of the laws and regulations applying in our society that is founded on „double standards“.

Here if anywhere, however, where Man is taking the epochal and fateful step of intervening in the sphere of „God’s own Creation“, there can be no question of permitting deviation in any way at least from a clear ethical and moral definition of the legal framework of such intervention.

Protection of the World’s Water and Water Supplies

Basically, the policies on water protection currently being pursued are the right ones.

Unfortunately, it took several serious catastrophes to persuade us of the validity of many insights long since articulated by „green“ political forces.

A policy of less soil-sealing, less artificial „river-straightening“, less pesticides, less heat wastage... that is the right way forward!

Air Pollution

Were there to be put into practice the energy policy propounded by the PDSJ - namely, an end to reliance on oil and petrol as energy sources and a reorientation of our energy supply toward geothermic power and hydrogen - then air pollution would cease automatically to be an issue.

Considered from a global perspective, all other states would be obliged to join in with this reorientation if they want to avoid slipping into economic insignificance as a result of the extremely low energy costs ensured by this new technology.

We see here once again how reasonable and efficient that style of thinking is which orients itself not in terms of short-term problems and solutions but rather in terms of the wider determining conditions.

Waste Disposal / Recycling

In principle, the ideas of minimizing waste products and of recycling are very sound ones; it is only the methods of these ideas’ realization that have been faulty. The „Green Dot“ system and the recently-introduced system of returnable deposits on cans and bottles are in fact only resulting in huge costs for the average citizen and equally huge profits for that small number of companies who have received licences and contracts in this regard.

Where we adopt the global/synoptic viewpoint recommended above and take as our premiss that waste is damaging to the environment, the first question that must be asked ís: „What is waste?“.

„Waste“ consists in all those substances and items which must somehow be disposed of in waste dumps and incineration sites. And the primary problem is clearly that of how drastically to reduce the quantity of such substances.

Mere „waste products“ become „waste“ in this emphatic and significant sense in every case where the processing of such waste products into something re-usable appears to be prohibited or unreasonable from the cost point of view.

In the great majority of cases, this will apply wherever different materials are so closely mixed up with one another that their separation is either impossible or too costly to be worthwhile.

But how are industrial enterprises to be persuaded to stop using in their products such nigh-inseparable mixtures of materials, since to do so will most likely endanger their competitiveness and ability to innovate ?

At least the basis of a solution might be provided by a relatively high level of taxation set for primary raw materials (e.g. oil and petrol) and a „negative taxation“ of secondary raw materials (e.g recyclable plastics), these two levels of taxation being also permitted to be set off against one another.

This would result in waste products’ finally themselves attaining the status of secondary raw materials, and not being indeed simply „wasted“ in the form of „waste“ in the emphatic sense referred to above.

Protection of the Natural World

The powers determining our political and economic existence must finally now begin to develop some understanding for ecological matters, and must act, henceforth, on the basis of said understanding.

Nature and the natural environment represent, among all the „goods“ available to us here on Earth, those which are most fundamentally and inseparably co-constitutive of lived human existence per se.

Science has already revealed to us at least a part of the complex connections making up the symbiosis of micro- and macro-realms. Also scientifically recognized is the fact there are really no such things as „weeds“ or „pests“ in Nature. The situations prompting such designations represent rather disequilibria in the natural order - and these disequilibria are, in most cases, caused by human intervention.

The PDSJ considers it to be one of its key tasks to put these insights, by means of the creation of general determining conditions conducive to this purpose, into actual political practice.

Animals as Pets or as Livestock

The keeping of animals either for commercial purposes or for private pleasure must in every case conform to the needs and nature of the species in question.

To keep animals in cages or in narrow pens and stalls can no longer be tolerated - particularly where this is done with an eye to lowering costs or increasing profits - since animals are unquestionably beings with feelings and anxieties much like our own.

Similarly indefensible is the mass transport of animals across long distances, since this surely subjects the animals to unnecessary stress and pain.

Research and Experiments on Animals

Research and experimentation conducted on living animals is to be excluded in all but the very small number of absolutely indispensable instances. The criterion to be applied in deciding what is „absolutely necessary“ here should be the actual social need for the knowledge and skill acquired through such research. In no sense, for example, can there be said to exist any need or necessity to use animals in testing cosmetic products.

Cosmetics containing ingredients which represent a risk - be it even a merely potential risk - to their human users so serious that they have beforehand to be tested on animals surely constitute already by definition „socially unnecessary products“.

Even in the area of medicines and pharmaceuticals, we can and should get along very largely without recourse to experimentation on animals.

It may indeed be the case that this would result in rather higher drug development costs - but such an argument does not suffice to justify the torture of living beings.