Balancing Act

moral checks and ecological balances

Posted on August 23, 2019

Balancing Acts


When fellow scientists tried blocking Nobel prize for Fritz Haber, who convinced Wehrmacht to kill thousands of allied soldiers in WWI with poison gases, he came with a counter-argument  that Alfred Nobel had also made his fortune with deadly explosives. Haber did not live to see his pesticide Zyklon A modified into Zyklon B and put to an even more deadly use in gas chambers of German concentration camps. Today we have added an upper crust of our planet to the death toll of allied soldiers in WWI and civilian victims of death camps in WWII. Soil of our planet started accusing with the ecological ideologies on the rise. Artificial fertilizers, until recently a blessing, are under suspicion as “explosives” in brutal war against the planet.


Some radical ecologists suggest a necessity to switch to a more biodynamic agriculture, which focuses on manure and composts and relies on local production and distribution. Harmony with nature should move us to allow ecological balances to restore themselves. Some of the versions of biological dynamic agriculture were legitimized with mystic theories of Rudolf Steiner, often dismissed as pseudoscience, but they are becoming ecologically attractive. Restoring balances and keeping checks? “Difficult” is an understatement.


Let us try to answer two questions about possible balancing acts. Should we praise Klaus Fuchs for stealing US nuclear secrets and selling them to the USSR after WWII? After all, Cold War failed to turn into a Hot War between 1945 and 2019. Should we still dislike Haber more for inventing weapons of mass destruction in war? Or should we focus on his guilty share in bombing our soil with fertilizers produced from thin air?  After all, fertilizers based on his discoveries/inventions damage our planet more than global wars, personal cars, fossil-burning power plants or palm oil producers ever could! “Difficult” is an understatement, indeed.


Haarlem, August 23, 2019