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As far as politics and science are woven together?

It is rare that Federal councillors to justify to the video camera. the Guy Parmelin is doing it and sent the result afterwards, via Twitter: "I have never imposed a muzzle." The SVP-the magistrate wants to get rid of the label that has the "look" missed, quickly: "censorship Minister Parmelin".

The Vorwuf is steep. The Minister of agriculture do scientists muzzled for fear of two people's initiatives that aim to reduce pesticide use, respectively, prohibit. The "view it writes" on Monday.

The dispute revolves around a facts sheet of the Eawag, the water research Institute of the ETH in dübendorf. The document shows what is already known: The use of pesticides in agriculture endangers the water quality and can harm plants, animals and micro-organisms. Parmelin should personally have ensured that the facts sheet is kept under lock and key. The Federal Council denies this.

The rate there to talk about

On 10. October Parmelin with Eawag Director Janet Hering and Beth Krasna, interim President of the ETH Board meets. The conversation takes place in French. The next day says the native American, the meeting together of herring in a Memo in English. Krasna commented on it.

The revised document then makes a small circle at Eawag, the round. In the set there to talk about now is: "the Federal Council Parmelin brought explicitly his attitude, that employees of the Confederation (including employees in the ETH domain) by the Federal Council made Decisions not in the public to criticize." Parmelin want to know about that statement nothing.

"When you said a fact sheet it came time to make the content by additional explanations easier to understand." Janet Hering, Eawag Director

herring can be explained on Wednesday in the "view". She acknowledges their not very good knowledge of French, but it remains in their written statement. (Read our Interview and learn more about the Eawag Director Janet Hering.) ETH-President Krasna, however, Parmelin wants to have not so understood.

Meanwhile, some peace has returned. And gradually there will be clarity in the matter. The Eawag Director for the first time a clear: you've never had the impression that the Federal Council wanted to hold back the facts. "When you said a fact sheet it came time to make the content by additional explanations easier to understand." Nevertheless, Parmelin has a debate initiated. In the Video he outlined his goal, he with the research community parts: "The independence of science and its political neutrality". The former is undisputed. The research and the freedom of expression as an essential pillar of a free society are enshrined in the Federal Constitution. But how is it with the "political neutrality"?

Political scientists?

Bernhard Wehrli, Professor of aquatic chemistry at the ETH Zurich and Eawag, has called in the NZZ recently, a "grippy" counter-proposal to the two pesticide initiatives. He criticized the action plan of the Federal Council, in order to reduce the plant protection products, as non-binding.

Among policy-makers, such statements are controversial. "If scientists take the floor, I expect you to argue with scientific facts," fall says about the FDP in the national Council of Christian water. Clearly you could make as individuals in political Statements. "But then please not with the scientific hat on the head." Name of water called the fall.

"ETH-experts, it is expected that you fact-based can be classified socially relevant issues."
Joël Mesot, ETH-President

Janet Hering has no Problem with Wehrlis comment. He had expressed his personal attitude. It adheres to the guidelines of the American Association of University professors: scientists must speak as a citizen and write, as long as not to give the impression that it was the opinion of the Institution in which they work.

scientists say their opinion, also wants to be able to the President of ETH Zurich Joël Mesot: "ETH-experts to classify, it is expected that you fact-based socially relevant issues."

Thus, the College seems to have a more open stance than under Mesots predecessor, Lino Guzzella, the should have stopped before the energy vote for the atom, the researchers are exit to communicate more restrained.

From research to public debate

One who talks a lot in the media, Reto Knutti. The ETH-Zurich researchers was set in a Sabbatical in the USA, as under the government of Donald Trump's climate, researchers from the state under pressure, and the President doubted patently human-caused climate change. That have shaped him, says Knutti.

The researchers followed the political process with a critical eye, for example, the Revision of the CO2 act. For him, it is the object of the research, data in context and to discuss the consequences of possible measures. Especially in a time, in the public debate more difficult is become. "The facts, interpretations, context and actions are often mixed up," he says. If the science is not filing, there is a danger that others provide you with personal, financial or political interests of the Interpretation.

sympathy for the climate rebel

to be supported As more than a thousand scientists in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the concerns of the so-called climate youth at the beginning of the year, officially, has Knutti as President of Proclim, Forum for climate and global change of the Swiss Academy of natural Sciences mitkoordiniert, the campaign in Switzerland. Political interference, he sees it not. Rather, he sees a need, if politically little has happened. "Our Knowledge today is so great and reliable," says Knutti.

"part of my function as a scientist, I will not enlighten the Public about the consequences, if we reduce the CO2 rapidly and significantly."Thomas Stocker, a climate researcher

Thus, the well-known Bernese climate researchers, Thomas Stocker thinks. He had kept long, to connect the results from the climate research with a political Statement. In the last ten years he gave but clear messages to the policy. Before the vote, the new cantonal energy act in the Canton of Bern at the beginning of the year, commented on the Stocker in the "Federal" template as "a step in the right direction". And said he will not be active at the vote fight. "But part of my function as a scientist, I will not enlighten the Public about the consequences, if we reduce the CO2 rapidly and significantly."


But where is the line for the political influence? Nearly 130 professors of the ETH Zurich and the EPFL in Lausanne, demanded last year, in a letter to the Federal pension Fund, Publica, you should deduct any investment in climate-damaging companies. Is that too far?

Unusually, too, those scientists from the Romandie, which have been recently in an open letter behind the Extinction of the Rebellion, a radical climate movement, which aims to reduce the CO2 by 2025, zero-behaved. The Swiss Nobel laureate and University Professor Jacques Dubochet, made a statement in the headlines: "a Little civil disobedience can benefit." (Read here what the Nobel prize said carrier to us in the Interview else.)

Scratch such actions not as to the credibility of the science? It is only credible when it is external only, where your skills lie, says climate researcher Reto Knutti.

At the traditional ETH day, will be honored on Saturday in Zurich is excellent. The speech, Federal councillor Guy Parmelin holds. For conversation is taken care of.

Created: 15.11.2019, 23:04 PM

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