A new article from Sven Ove Hansson was recently published with the title “Anthroposophical climate science denial”. The article proclaims, “climate science denialism has a strong standing in anthroposophy”. Its arguments are based on the perspectives and individual work of a number of authors. The author of this article states that “For long, the official organ of the Anthroposophical Society, Das Goetheanum, promoted denialist views on climate change (…)”.
We argue that the collection of authors and articles provided does not fully represent the variety of biodynamic and anthroposophical actors and actions in dealing with and adapting to climate change. As the Section for Agriculture, we have a clear position on climate change, which does not deny its existence, implications and effects on farming life and beyond.
Since 2021 our main working theme has been the interactions between climate resilience and health.
This focus derives from the needs of farmers worldwide when working with nature and natural forces. Each and every day these farmers do their best to interact with the local weather and climate. They report the effects of extreme heat or heavy precipitation becoming a devastating reality when working in their fields.
Biodynamic practice has been scientifically and practically proven to offer several advantages when dealing with climate change. The design of a diverse landscape with hedges (carbon sequestration) and crop and animal diversity, working with nature instead of against it, constantly building healthy and fertile soils, and the application of the biodynamic preparations as well as the use of medical plants are all factors that biodynamic farmers name which help them to adapt to climate change.
At the same time, scientific trials, like the DOK trial by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), have shown that biodynamic agriculture helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency, both of which act as climate change mitigation factors. Further, it has also been demonstrated that biodynamic agriculture methods promote the resistance of plants to pathogens.
Sven Ove Hansson claims that there are “conflicts between mainstream science and anthroposophy’s spiritual worldview”. However, as the Section for Agriculture, we are dedicated to integrating and including the various scientific perspectives.
We can look back over a history of collaboration in climate research and action. For example, during the 2007 conference of the Section for Agriculture on the role of carbon in climate change, scientific authors such as Hartmut Grassl from the renowned Max Plank Institute presented their research. Hans Rudolf Herren, co-author of the world agriculture report and winner of the world food prize, also joined the climate discussions at our annual conference “Alliances for our Earth” in 2013. In addition, at our 2nd biodynamic research conference (2021)on the topic “Growing beyond resilience”, over 90 authors from all over the world presented their research in this field.
At the recent 2021 climate conference, internationally-recognised speakers such as Charles Eisenstein, noted for his focus on climate action, were involved in the work of the Section for Agriculture. This conference, “Breathing with the climate crisis” and organised in collaboration with the Youth Section, reached more than 1,200 people from 63 countries.
The people attending the above-mentioned conferences, contributing to biodynamic research and investing time in developing their farms to adapt to climate change, are all part of the biodynamic and anthroposophical movements. They are all affected by the impacts of climate change on their farms, their gardens and their surroundings. They work in partnership to develop ways to achieve resiliency. They have all invested time to discuss solutions and work out strategies to find a way out of this crisis. We therefore argue that the anthroposophical and biodynamic movements are much larger than claimed by the author of the climate science denial paper.
As a Section, we do our utmost to continue to work on finding, integrating and promoting various solutions for the global challenges of climate change, be this as part of the Goetheanum working group on finding innovative ways to reduce our own ecological footprint or as part of practical projects, such as our Roadmap for a healthy climate.
Author: Sven Ove Hansson
Title: Anthroposophical climate science denial
Journal: Critical Research on Religion
Link to the article: journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/20503032221075382