Nobel Laureates call for action on climate change

The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting ends with a political statement

July 02, 2015

Before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015, more than 30 Nobel Prize Laureates, including three Max Planck directors, have signed a declaration on clime change. They call for decisive action to limit future global emissions.

It is a stark warning of the consequences of climate change: “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", states the Mainau Declaration on Climate Change, which was signed by more than 30 Nobel Prize winners on Friday at the Bodensee Island of Mainau.

The winners of the disciplines physiology or medicine, physics and chemistry are therefore calling on the nations of the world to "take the opportunity at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015", where a new international climate agreement is due to be adopted to succeed the the Kyoto Protocol. They go on to state that decisive action is needed to limit future global emissions.

From June 30 – July 3, around 650 young scientists from nearly 90 countries met up with the luminaries of their trade on Lake Constance. Among them were 19 young researchers from Max Planck Institutes. The focus of the meeting this year was on the interaction between the research fields of biology, medicine, chemistry and physics – the underlying theme was interdisciplinary thinking, which ultimately is also an important criterion for scientific success. The young researchers had the unique opportunity to present and discuss their projects to their personal role scientific models in master classes and discuss.

A new addition to the ranks of Nobel Laureates

Hang Su, one of the selected young scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, even knew before his departure for Lindau: "My personal highlight will definitely be Stefan Hell!" - The Max Planck researcher Stefan Hell had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014 and is visiting the Lindau Meeting for the first time this year. Quite fitting for this year's theme of the conference, Hell is also an expert in the field of interdisciplinarity: Thanks to his multidisciplinary approach with the help of molecular biochemistry, microscopy and physics, he succeeded in developing STED microscopy. It was therefore possible, for the first time, to observe structures which are smaller than the wavelength of light. "Maybe I will learn in Lindau how to apply this method in my own field of research", said Su. At the official dinner on 30 June, the young Max Planck scientists had the opportunity to share their ideas with Stefan Hell.

Establish professional and personal contacts

But the Nobel Conference program not only includes expert discussions. "I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity for interesting talks with Ted Hänsch and Serge Haroche, which will inspire me for my work and my career," said Pierre Türschmann from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen - last but not least, it is often personal contacts and networks that open doors and help to advance scientific careers.

Joanna Kowalska from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim summarizes aptly: "It is quite an honor to go to Lindau, as it is an inspiration for young people to see exactly how Nobel Prize winners did it. This year's interdisciplinary focus is especially great because I myself am a physicist and now working with chemists - I am sure I can learn a lot in Lindau ".

The Max Planck Society financially supports the participation of young researchers at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting with 2500 euros each. All participants will be proposed by the Managing Director of the institution and nominated by the President of the Max Planck Society.

A long tradition of meetings

Since 1951, the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have been offering researchers a world-renowned forum for scientific exchange and creating networkings. In addition to alternating meetings in medicine, physics and chemistry, there are regular interdisciplinary meetings. In addition, every three years, Nobel Prize winners in economics come to Lindau and also meet with young students.





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