Heidelberg Appeal

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The Heidelberg Appeal, authored by Michel Salomon and signed by a large number of scientists,[1] is a statement decrying "an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress, and impedes economic and social development." Issued to coincide with the opening of the United Nations-sponsored Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Appeal stated that its signers:

"share the objectives of the 'Earth Summit'" but advised "the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data. ... The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry."

It was carefully worded to be directed generally at underfunded and poorly conducted science, rather than specifically at climate change. This allowed it to be promoted and exploited by a number of different industries by using this in the context of their own pollution defenses. In fact, the Appeal was created and promoted by a group of industry associations with polluting problems (including chemical, energy, and mining concerns): the tobacco industry was involved, but in this case it was not the primary driving force. At that time the tobacco industry was focussed on trying to change the scientific standards for Good Epidemiology Practice (GEP) [1]

A version of the Heidelberg Appeal was published in the June 1, 1992, Wall Street Journal over the signatures of 46 prominent scientists and other intellectuals. It has subsequently been endorsed by some 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners. The Appeal was for an anthropocentric assessment of the world's resources and a utilitarian as opposed to abolitionist approach to hazardous substances used or created by technology. It targeted as irrational, by implication, if not explicitly, both a vision of a "Natural State" with intrinsic rights to impede the activities of man, and hysterical fears of environmental poisons, disproportionate to the threat and dismissive of their associated benefits.

The Heidelberg Appeal has been enthusiastically embraced by critics of the environmental movement such as S. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. Conservative think tanks frequently cite the Heidelberg Appeal as proof that scientists reject the theory of global warming as well as a host of other environmental health risks associated with modern science and industry. Its name has subsequently been adopted by the Heidelberg Appeal Nederland Foundation, which was founded in 1993 and disputes health risks related to nitrates in foods and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Heidelberg Appeal was promoted in 1993 by the International Center for a Scientific Ecology, a group set up by Michael Salomon "that was considered important in Philip Morris' plans to create a group in Europe similar to The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC)".[2][3]

Parts of the Heidelberg Appeal endorse environmental concerns, such as a sentence that states, "We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved." Its 72 Nobel laureates include 49 who also signed the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity", which was circulated that same year by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and attracted the majority of the world's living Nobel laureates in science along with some 1,700 other leading scientists. In contrast with the vagueness of the Heidelberg Appeal, the "World Scientists' Warning" is a very explicit environmental manifesto, stating that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course" and citing ozone depletion, global climate change, air pollution, groundwater depletion, deforestation, overfishing, and species extinction among the trends that threaten to "so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know."

Moreover the Heidelberg Appeal has been, if not specifically misrepresented, at least broadly interpreted out of context, for example, by The National Center for Public Policy which asserts "The appeal warns industrialized nations that no compelling scientific consensus exists to justify mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cuts." Although the Heidelberg Appeal may be open to such an interpretation, it is not what the document said, as the text below shows.

1994 Jun 16 Matt Winokur then sends to a list of PM organisers a note saying:

APCo (the old spelling of APCO Worldwide) is completing its evaluation of a Symposium for Europe in the fall. They have forwarded the draft Guiding Scientific Principles (or GEP) which would constitute the outcome of such a meeting.

They are on the right track but the language is too vague. (Tom) Borelli and (Richard) Carchman will review and tighten. Obviously, any output from the symposium must be supportive of GEP. So the bottom line for both the GEP resolution and GEP Symposium must be in synch. Burson (Marsteller) has begun its feasibility review based on a more explicit understanding that GEP is what we are interested in promoting.

I gather from Jim [Lindheim of B-M] that there may have been a misunderstanding as to whether or not Burson was to have proceeded with the review prior to the presentation of a "joint" proposal [APCO and B-M]. I was aware that Burson began and take responsibility for allowing them to proceed. If you don't want to pay for it then I will. But the intelligence obtained from their interviews with potential coalition sponsors as well as information about analogous efforts by existing groups, e.g., Heidelberg, will be critical to the development of a comprehensive Burson/APCo proposal.

[Note: after a territory battle, Philip Morris had suggested that rivals APCO and B-M present this as a joint proposal]

The Burson research is necessary now in order to tell us whether it is possible or efficient to try to develop an enduring ['Sound Science'] coalition following on from the symposium. Possible, in that there may prove to be an insufficient amount of interest in the corporate sector for such a movement. Efficient, in that there may already exist analogous groups which we could use without going to the effort of starting one from scratch.

And we need to be careful not to step on unseen toes. For example, Bruce Ames is part of TASSC and Heidelberg. Do we need/want him on a third group in Europe?

Thus the benefit in having Burson complete the study now, is that what they learn will be factored into both the content of the symposium AND inform us as to what options are available after the symposium concludes. If we only want a one off event, that's our decision. But I would think we'd at least want a mechanism to be able to tap the participants to later on endorse the GEP resolution in the appropriate EU institutions.

The Burson research will also turn up corporate interest in GEP in general which may help us identify allies regardless of whether we do either a symposium or create a coalition. The presentation therefore at the next TF mtg. will be a single proposal for PM prepared jointly by Burson and APCo. And I've asked Margery [Krause of APCO] and Jim [Lindheim of B-M] to come themselves, as well as any other support staff they may wish to have accompany them. [2]


  1. ^ DeWeese, Tom (2002-03-29). "The Heidelberg Appeal". American Policy Center. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  2. ^ Yach, D; Bialous, SA (November 2001). "Junking science to promote tobacco". Am J Public Health. 91: 1745–8. PMC 1446867Freely accessible. PMID 11684592. 
  3. ^ International Center for A Scientific Ecology Guidelines for the Seminar on Linear Relationship for Risk Assessment of Low Doses of Carcinogens

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