According to Harald Lesch, science needs personal stories and emotions instead of appeals. In a panel discussion, the physicist begins with an apology and explains what he believes is still needed to overcome the climate crisis.

The well-known moderator, physicist and natural philosopher Harald Lesch spoke at a panel discussion at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz about measures to deal with the climate crisis and why scientists should also be emotional. Scientists for Future Mainz published the round of talks on the YouTube channel.

During the discussion he talked about a situation in Munich. He stood in front of students at a lecture and said: “Friends, I’m sorry, I have to apologize. My generation screwed it up. He was born in 1960, “when the ecological know-how came, I was 18. I should have known. My generation really messed it up.”

With this example, Lesch wanted to express that scientists can and should be emotional and energetic in order to make the seriousness of the climate crisis clear. According to Lesch, scientists don’t have to present all their feelings, “but if the topic affects you, it should be presented emotionally.” Facts should still be presented correctly. But “we are in a phase where the content we are researching is having an impact on us. This has meaning for us. It’s not just something you write a paper about.”

When dealing with the climate crisis, Lesch is of the opinion that appeals will not be enough, nor will a bare list of data, but “we can tell about ourselves, why we do science, why we are interested in the subject of climate change, why we believe, why it is important to talk about it.”

Emotional narratives are also important in order to gain a certain degree of credibility. According to Lesch, scientists should comment and classify the facts according to the motto: “Explain to me what that means”.

Achieving climate change requires an emotional narrative to persuade people and create a sense of community that moves people to action. Because “the sun shines over everyone”. But Germany alone is too big to develop a sense of togetherness. That’s why municipalities are important, according to the scientist. “You can feel the togetherness of a community or a city.” These are the people who live together.

Lesch believes that the energy transition, for example, belongs in the hands of citizens “who just start”. If, for example, investments were made in renewable energies, then something would change, according to Lesch. This action is the next big challenge. “Climate change is here, it’s dangerous, it’s our fault, the experts agree and we can still do something.” Only the timescale for effective action is getting smaller and smaller.


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The original of this post “ZDF Professor Lesch: “My generation screwed it up”” comes from Utopia.