72 recipients of the Nobel Prize urgently warn of the consequences of climate change. They support a declaration that was handed over to the President of the Republic of France, François Hollande, at the Élysée Palace in Paris today by the French Nobel Laureates in Physics Serge Haroche and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, together with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany. The "Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change" states "that the nations of the world must take the opportunity at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris to take decisive action to limit future global emissions." The declaration was first presented on the occasion of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on Mainau Island in Lake Constance, Germany, on Friday, 3 July 2015. Back then it was signed by 36 Nobel Laureates. Since, 36 additional laureates joined the group of supporters.
"If left unchecked, our ever-increasing demand for food, water, and energy will eventually overwhelm the Earth's ability to satisfy humanity's needs, and will lead to wholesale human tragedy," the declaration reads. It states that although more data needs to be analysed and further research has to be done, the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) still represents the most reliable scientific assessment on man-made climate change, and that it should therefore be used as a foundation upon which policymakers should discuss actions to oppose this global threat.
The initiators emphasised that they were not experts in climate research but rather a diverse group of scientists who had a deep respect for and understanding of the integrity of the scientific process. The signatories of the declaration have all been awarded Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, or Chemistry, except Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 2014.
"Some of the brightest minds of our planet, the Nobel Laureates, are highlighting what they deem to be one of the greatest challenges of our times: climate change," says Schellnhuber. He initiated a symposia series carrying the titel "A Noble Cause" a few years ago to direct Nobel Laureates' attention to global sustainability issues. Two of the participants of the most recent symposium in Hong Kong this April brought the idea of a Nobel Laureates' climate statement to the longer-running and broader Lindau Meeting and have been gathering support for it amongst fellow Nobel Laureates since then.
The term Mainau Declaration has become the designation for socio-political appeals by Nobel Laureates who participated in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, the annual gathering with young scientists at the German town of Lindau. The name denotes that these declarations were presented on nearby Mainau Island in Lake Constance, Germany, the traditional venue of the last day of the one-week meeting.
The first Mainau Declaration was an appeal against the use of nuclear weapons. Initiated and drafted by the Nobel Prize-winning German nuclear scientists Otto Hahn and Max Born, it was circulated at the 5th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (11-15 July 1955) and presented on Mainau Island on 15 July 1955. The declaration was initially signed by 18 Nobel Laureates. Within a year, the number of supporters rose to 52 Nobel Laureates.
The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting fosters the exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines. Every year, Nobel Laureates convene at Lindau to meet the next generation of leading scientists: 400 to 650 undergraduates, PhD students, and post-doc researchers from approximately 90 countries. The meeting focusses alternately on physiology and medicine, on physics, and on chemistry - the three scientific Nobel Prize disciplines. An interdisciplinary meeting revolving around all three natural sciences is held every five years. In addition, the Lindau Meetings on Economic Sciences are held every three years. The Lindau Meetings were founded in 1951 by Count Lennart Bernadotte af Wisborg, member of the Swedish Royal Family, and the Lindau city councillors Franz Karl Hein and Gustav Wilhelm Parade.