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Points mentioned in the fishbowl discussion: „Together for Sustainability – Do we expect too much from science?“

Together for sustainability

Together for sustainability, © Deutsche Botschaft Warschau

22.01.2024 - Artikel

Our situation

The acceleration of everything is a great risk but also a window of opportunity. This is especially true for fake news and alternative information. Everything is at risk. We should science not trust blindly.

There is a lot to do regarding topics related to transport, energy transition, climate crisis, healthcare and others. Science will not be able to solve all our needs. However, we should work together with science to come to solutions.

We should not forget about political implications. There are many political questions to be answered. We also need to include philosophers (and other social sciences) to get some meaning for the process.

From knowledge to action

It is not enough to know everything. There is an important gap before we (can) start to act smart. Because we know already enough (e.g. IPCC on climate change) we should not be too naïve. Science is not a way to get to values – this is not what science is for. Science alone will not be able to resolve all our questions.

Knowing is not enough because we know a lot but we do not live smart.

Do we need (more) religion or other value systems? Because believes are a much smarter way to influence people than pure facts. This is a way to get them to act.

We have to keep in mind than science is in itself an ongoing debate that will never end and does not produce definitive answers and solutions. At the same time, we must/can rely on scientific solutions and conclusions right now: We do not wait for medical progress in the future when we visit a doctor because we are sick.

Science is too abstract and does not provide us with final answers and we have to accept the risks when we act now – what is necessary. This is problem for democratic trust in scientific processes that are never definitively.

Knowledge of science is independent from values. Values are based on a social contract.

There is no rational homo oeconomicus. Human beings are not rational: values are more important than money.

Communication and influence via education

Knowledge hubs are needed to prevent over-information.

Can we change people’s behaviour and to convince them to act based on facts?

Education is very important and one of the most mentioned desires and goals during the discussions of the workshops.

There is a missing link between good education and engaged politics.

Education does not only happen at school but during our whole lifetime. We have to think about the three C: Communication, cooperation, consultation.

Can we change our model of education to improve our living conditions?

Education should be more appreciated and mobile phones more often switched off.

We need to teach/learn how AI works and where it does come from.

Education might be overrated – it creates a lot of noise.

We need more critical thinking, competencies in fact checking and evaluation.

Science offers many answers but fails in its communication. We need to include people from the very beginning in scientific projects and take them serious: the job is not done with a brochure in easy language! People are driven by emotions – how can we touch them with facts?

What is the message

We should talk about saving humanity – not the earth that does also fine without us.

Who has to get the message? Politicians should listen to the people – the transformation of society is not an elite’s project. E.g. coal mining/burning and hunting: the majority of our societies is against it.

Not everyone has to agree on a certain message

Values in the centre

For politics, we need to focus on values and visions in addition to science. Because we have to sell the information/fact, giving the public better alternatives. E.g.: people still smoke even though they now it is bad for their health and not economic. We have to give them alternatives. The same is true for the addiction of our societies on fossil fuels.

The people want to play an active (relevant) role in the process of transformation. We have to be positive and make them proud: everybody counts.

Time for solutions

AI is not a solution. We should question how it is trained. Is AI as independent as humanity and a natural phenomenon you cannot control?

Geo-engineering can be a scientific solution but is a very scary one.

Does science and technology stop because it does not get public funding?

We should define areas of risk where we act even we do not know the whole picture; e.g. when I call the fire brigade it is not important to know if 70 or 80 percent of the building are on fire.

There is definitely no silver bullet.

We are too dependent on growth.

To some extent, we are already living in a controlled society. Consumerism is also a form of social control.

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