Some time ago I wrote the paper “Refugee Politics, How to Learn from the Past”
Looking at what has happened since then I see even more clearly that we have to learn from the past. Of course, history doesn’t repeat itself exactly, but some general similarities can be observed.
With the generous and humane move of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to open Germany’s doors for the rising flood of desperate refugees, I felt happy to witness the birth of a new Europe. I saw Europe using its enormous financial and industrial strength and acting as a real moral world force, rooted in the principles of Democracy, invented 2500 years ago in Ancient Greece. It was beautiful to see how many citizens and organisations engaged with extraordinary idealism, compassion and empathy to help those miserable masses in various ways. With the two encyclicals, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ and ‘Laudato Si’ from Pope Franciscus a new era suddenly seemed possible: an era of real hope, overcoming the old destructive patterns of fear, dominance, egoistic power, and shortsighted profit-orientation. I saw a new Europe, overcoming the shades and fears of an extremely violent and bloody past to become the much-needed shining example for the 21st Century, that clean and light-filled Solar Age. It marked a huge paradigm shift in the evolution of mankind. (See Modern Tribal Settlements)
I will not describe in detail how – at least for now – this glimpse of joy and hope has been intercepted by the old forces, which are starting to destroy hope, making Europe into a fenced fortress, spending enormous amounts of money on exclusion instead of help. Anyone following the enormous stream of information in today’s digital information age can follow this development and make up his or her own mind. But I would like to make one remark in this context: it is undeniable that in these times of ‘global terrorism’ the infiltration of terrorists within the desperate stream of innocents represents a danger; but this is no reason to stop the whole operation and to inseminate fear among the citizens of Europe, rather to work on changing the root causes by helping build a meaningful life situation in the countries of origin.
Together with some good friends, I went to see the real situation in a refugee camp in Greece this July (Lagadikia near Thessaloniki). It would be to easy to simply raise a ‘moral finger’, but having seen on the one side the poor and extremely depressing living situation of the refugees, and on the other side the good will of the many official and unofficial helpers in the camp administration, it is clear that it is not due to lack of funds that the necessary infrastructure for even minimal human dignity is often not given. This of course raises the question: where is the huge financial support declared by the European Union? And – what about the great potential of many of the refugees (engineers of all kinds, professors, craftsmen, intellectuals, farmers and much more). Why are they condemned to do nothing? Why are we not engaging them in an active process to help themselves, to give them a realistic possibility to overcome their frustration, to become active masters of their destiny? Why is there not an active cooperation between them and their hosts to create a win-win situation, giving the one side the perspective to return in due time to their countries devastated by war or extreme poverty, to rebuild their countries in a sustainable and stable way? Why do their hosts not use knowledge acquired together to develop ecological, economical ways to master the huge challenges of the 21th century?
In the following ‘refugee strategy’ I express my conviction that the coming solar age offers great possibilities to master this enormous challenge. The technical and agricultural knowledge developed so far makes this historical shift possible. And the Solar Age, just beginning, offers a great number of further solutions, that could see the 21st Century become the start of a stable age of abundance and peace. If hosts and refugees start to cooperate in this way, this will be the beginning of a global social structure based on compassion, cooperation and respect for human values, replacing the brutal fight for dominance and egoistic greed of current globalisation.
I return to my initial statement, that I feel that we should now more than ever look back in history. I believe that the trend to close the European frontiers and to pay huge amounts of money to the Turkish government to shelter the refugees, is a big mistake. Turkey’s recent state reminds me in some alarming aspects of Germany in 1933. How can we morally accept that a state moving rapidly away from democracy to autocracy will give human shelter to the helpless, desperate masses?
Why not prevent this development, which bears the terrible potential to even worsen the situation? Why not create the win-win situation just mentioned? For example by starting in Greece a dynamic solar, ecological evolution serving both the Greek people and the refugees?
As a small group of scientists, engineers, water and agricultural specialists, we started an initiative out of the Peace Research Center, Tamera, in Southern Portugal (www.tamera.org) to develop a ‘Hope Container‘. This is intended as a central element in an educational centre in Tamera. Furthermore we intend to place such systems, step by step, in active cooperation with skilled refugees, in several refugee camps in Greece. One of our partners, Nikiforos Pertsinides, and his team run the ecological center Skala, near Thessaloniki, which will also become a regional demonstration and education center. Nikiforos is co-owner of a technical development company. We started the process of building a core element of the hope container in his company. We consider such activity as the nucleus of a ‘win-win’ structure. Of course it will be necessary that many other actors with different technologies and skills reinforce the structure.
The foreseeable exponential growth of the refugee stream can only be mastered in a humane and constructive way if we understand the positive challenge, act with rationale and compassion, and realize that it is our common future that we are talking about. A positive effect can only be reached if gradually we shift the vast sums of money from defence into a progressive ‘Marshall Plan’ for the whole European-Mediterranean-African region as an example for the rest of the globe.
How can we create a synergy between the needs of the refugees and their host countries?
It is widely agreed that real help for refugees should be to give them the possibility to help themselves. This is also expressed in the famous statement, “Don’t give fishes to the hungry. Give them a fishing net.”
In our times it is also clearly understood that the existing structures providing energy, food and medical help must be harmonized with nature, in an intensive worldwide evolutionary step. (See: “Laudato si” encyclical of Pope Franciscus). These must become an integral part of the sustainable ecologic structure – the life platform of the whole biosphere, including we humans. The coming Solar Age (See the groundbreaking books of the late Hermann Scheer, founder of Eurosolar, Alternative Nobel Prize winner) offers everything needed for this historic task.
The rich European nations have spent many billions of Euros since the ‘oil crisis’ of 1974 to develop renewable solar energies. One result amongst other positive effects has been the creation of millions of jobs and the fast transformation of the energy infrastructure of whole countries toward renewable, clean sources. Germany, an example of a relative sun-poor country, has already realized over 30% of its total energy needs from renewable sources, and aims to reach 100% by 2050.
Such dynamic growth is required worldwide to reach the most urgent goal set at the International Climate Summit in Paris, 2015, of limiting the global temperature rise to under 2°C.
It can not be overlooked that the recent refugee stream has a direct link to the energy , food and climatic situation of the world. Bio-resource and solar-energy rich countries like those on the African continent (with a projected population of four billion people by 2100) are suffering hunger and extreme poverty because they do not posses renewable energy knowledge. The few examples of African communities who do have the knowledge and apply it demonstrate clearly, that they can create extremely enjoyable, sustainable and human living conditions through their own efforts. People living in these structures will not contribute to the refugee stream of poverty. On the contrary, they will serve as shining examples of a humane social solar age for the whole world.
However, time is of the essence. As the man-made climatic change is impacting the southern countries with desertification, drought, water crises, extreme weather patterns, we need to take action fast. That means rapid replacement of fossil fuels with renewable (solar) sources.
Today’s refugee crisis is mainly focused on those poor people escaping the war zones of Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and others. Also here one can see a clear relationship to the energy situation of the world. One of the major factors of destabilisation and finally war in their countries has to be seen as a consequence of the fight for the world’s fossil energy resources: these are oil wars. Once it is really understood that the world’s solar resources are around 15 thousand times more than the present total world energy demand and that this energy is completely clean, stable for the next 4.5 billion years and freely distributed by photons to every corner of the globe, it will be understood that a concerted global human effort to accept this natural gift can produce prosperity, abundance and peace. This could be a real plan for the 21th century, a global New Deal, a peaceful fight for our future instead of the violent fights of everybody against everybody which are destroying this future.
The wealth within the rich European nations is also unevenly distributed, with many of the Southern European countries, typified by Greece, suffering under a substantial financial and structural crisis.
For geographical reasons, countries like Greece, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, are the first land reached by the bulk of the refugee stream crossing the sea. As the core of Europe increasingly closes its frontiers, the already exhausted economy of this host country is stressed by having to take care of the rising flood of refugees. This critical situation is further amplified by massive youth unemployment, creating an explosive mixture that is not at all favourable to host refugees.
Greece itself needs infrastructure renovation for its energy, food and water. Due to the crisis, large parts of formerly flourishing industrial sites of all kinds now lie empty.
Greece urgently has to create new, stable jobs. As one of the sunniest countries of Europe, with a great number of isolated islands and regions, it possesses a natural potential to use solar energy in its different forms, especially to gain local autonomy for energy and food while creating much-needed employment. Greece is also a tourist attraction, known for its beauty, friendly people and historical sites. The development of technologies in harmony with nature will also be an extra attractor for quality tourism.
To summarise the situation of refugees, host countries and the core of Europe
1. Both refugees and host countries are suffering substantial crisis.
2. Both refugees and host countries would profit greatly by getting actively involved in the development and application of decentralized autonomous solar systems to fulfil their basic needs.
3. The core European countries want to control and substantially reduce the refugee stream toward them.
4. The core European countries possess a resource of renewable energy technologies including people, institutions and organizations ready to transfer it.
5. The core European countries are extremely wealthy and are spending a fortune to prevent refugees reaching their territory.
6. The fear produced by the refugee problem on top of their own unresolved problems, will steadily lead to an escalation of the situation between refugees and hosts.
With such an explosive mixture, how can harmonisation, or even a synergetic effect, a ‘win-win’
situation be created?
The logical answer to this key question is:
1. The core European countries cancel Greece’s debt while at the same time starting a “New Deal’ initiative towards Greece by transferring autonomous solar technologies and ecologically sound agricultural methods to Greece, including the necessary financial basis. They help create transfer centres in which Greek entrepreneurs and skilled refugees take on the knowledge, including the knowledge needed to produce the systems.
2. The first systems are introduced in refugee camps and selected sites in Greece. A living structure of permanent exchange of experience and ideas between Greek people and refugees is established (a ‘solar bridge’). Groups of refugees are helped to return to their countries of origin and to build a sustainable humane and stable infrastructure there. Greece gradually expands its solar infrastructure. Twin-towns and regional partnerships are established between former refugees and their hosts.
This is the formation of an international network of cooperation and cultural exchange: the human version of a ‘new globalisation of the solar age’.
Of course the immediate reaction to this first, short description of a refugee strategy, which obviously must be structured and broken down in a rational and logical action plan, will be to ask, “ Who should pay for this?”
My answer is to ask, “How much will it cost Europe if we don’t choose synergy, if we continue to concentrate on defence and fences?” My guess, from studying history, is, that to continue as we are would be not only much more expensive, but would also lead to intolerable suffering and death of numerous innocent people.
A democratic and morally motivated Europe, living in a modern solar age which it has itself created has the unique chance and obligation for a (r)evolutionary path to bring the whole of humankind onto the track towards a really humane world. We can learn from the past atrocities committed in Europe’s name and compensate by helping introduce global peace and well-being.
Greece stands here as a synonym for humanism, democracy, the art of life. It is more than symbolic that one of the first known applications of solar energy was the ignition of the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia, using concentrating sun mirrors, and that the period of the ancient Olympic Games was declared as a time of peace.
The Greek ‘bridge’ model described here should of course apply to many other countries all over the world.
The solar age is not just another wave of technology, already planned to be replaced by the next ‘better one’. It is a unique chance offered to us as a gift from Creation. At a decisive branching point of our civilization, we have gained, through centuries of painful research and development, the knowledge to apply it. Knowledge is responsibility. Responsibility must see the overall picture.
Let us avoid history having to write, “Lord, don’t forgive them. They did not do what they knew.”