AfD, diversity and more: Interview with Hochschule Rhein-Waal Professor Georg Bastian

“You will hear from everyone maybe Bastian is a little strict, but it doesn’t matter from which country you are,” says Prof. Dr. Georg Bastian, sharing his views on immigration, global warming and his political affiliation with AfD. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Chetna Krishna.

Prof. Dr. Georg Bastian is a Professor of Physics at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. Photo by Michael Bergmann

What makes you believe in AfD?

Germany needs a strong opposition against Merkel’s government. But the origin of AfD was not only about Merkel’s way to deal with refugees but also about how to deal with the economy Euro global debt crisis. Based on this, I became a member of AfD four years ago. The currency and debt crisis, uncontrolled migration and energy policy are severe problems, which AfD does not deny but tackle.

What do you have to say about the immigration policy in Germany?

I really believe that opening the borders for everyone, allowing anybody with any reason to come to Germany and to benefit from social welfare in Germany is obviously not going to work. And this is the reason for some economic and social problems in Germany. We don’t want to ban foreigners coming to Germany, but we want all of this to be done in a controlled way following pretty clear regulations, similar to what’s going on in Canada or Australia or pretty much in every country in the world.

Last year, AfD leader Alice Weidel had said: “Burkas, headscarf girls and alimented knives and other goodies will not secure our prosperity, economic growth and especially the welfare state.” What do you feel about it?

Other political parties had said that opening the borders to allowing everyone to enter Germany will lead to prosperity, it will help Germany’s economy. This was a very harsh reaction saying that most of the people who come to us cannot be easily integrated into [German] society.

In Fachhochschule Aachen, students from the Middle Eastern countries are restricted from entering the Nuclear Lab. It is not given on the official websites, but tutors tell that in the orientation week. Your views?

It’s really surprising. I’m pretty sure this decision was not made by the university or a single professor. I believe that this decision was made by Federal Intelligent Services or somebody like that. People try to restrict access to all the detailed knowledge linked to Nuclear Physics. I feel that this is a very weird idea to deal with students who come to Germany to become engineers. Pretty much every country has access to this technology, and therefore, it’s evil. I wish some countries haven’t had access to such nuclear power. But I can’t change that.

AfD member Adolf Frerk wrote on AfD, Kleve’s website: “Is Islam Part of Germany? Freedom and progress, Western democracy and human dignity according to our terms are incompatible with the teaching and practice of Islam. Giving space to Islam means harming one’s own country.” What do you have to say?

I don’t like any religion but if people want to practice their religion, I don’t mind. I have a bunch of good friends who are Muslims. I’m heavily discussing religious and political issues with them and I’m heavily criticizing whenever I feel that. One good friend of mine is from Tunisia and another one is from Bangladesh. One of them wants to drop the religion because he believes that it is not matched to the modern, democratic open society. They have a different opinion about freedom of speech, how to deal with women rights and homosexuals- definitely not a match to our modern German society. There are indeed problems and if you address these kinds of problems, then you are not racist or Islamophobic, you are interested in solving the problems, mentioning the problems. So, in that respect, I perfectly agree with the comments you found on AfD Kleve’s homepage.

Nevertheless, I have heavily accused the author Adolf Frerk for some other phrases he wants to publish on the homepage. A severe discussion is going on within my political party like to which extent we want to allow foreigners to live their own life while they are in Germany or shall we force everyone to adapt to German society. There is not a very clear opinion about that.

Do you think this contradicts the slogan of our university “Inspired by the passions of a hundred nations”?

I’m one of the very few professors working at Rhine-Waal who have had a permanent professor position in Germany beforehand. I wasn’t forced to come to Kleve. My salary didn’t increase, or my status didn’t increase, it was simply because I wanted to work at an international university. In my past university [Trier University of Applied Sciences], all foreign students decided to do their thesis under my supervision, because they were happy about the way I was dealing with foreign students. I was teaching asylum seekers back at my past university. I’m married to a foreigner and pretty much all my neighbours are foreigners. And if you ask for students here at Rhine-Waal, if I treat them badly or something, you will hear from everyone maybe Bastian is a little strict, but it doesn’t matter from which country you are.

What would your message be to the students who are coming from Islamic countries to study at Rhine-Waal?

They should decide whatever they love. They should try to explore the freedom that they have got here in Germany- the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and make up their minds which religion they indeed want to pick and practice.

Could you tell us about your development aid projects?

One of them was with Dogbo, a wind power plant in Benin, and the other was with Solar Serve in Vietnam. Another project was an initiative of two of my Bangladeshi Ph.D students. It is a remote teaching program. If internet connection works well, then it is easy to give video conference between to poor schools in remote countries and skill gifted students at Rhine-Waal who can easily work as good teachers for these school kids. This is a very cheap initiative where they can use the infrastructure, the equipment and the experiments at our university and at the same time, it allows foreign students to give something back to their home country.

Based on your lectures for AfD sceptical towards climate change, do you think anthropogenic emissions of gases such as CO2 are responsible for most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years?

I used to be the course director for Renewable Energies in my past university and I was heavily promoting renewable energies. But then at one point, I took a closer look at global warming discussions and I realized that this discussion is so weird and so far from science. From what I learned, I can say that nobody knows how much of global warming is anthropogenic. We should promote renewable energies only up to a point where it makes sense. And in Germany, it does not make very much sense to expand renewable energies more.

Definitely, there is global warming. The reason for all of that temperature increase, however, is not perfectly clear. CO2 plays a role but if we take a closer look at the technical relations, CO2 has an absorption in the infrared. This absorption band is slightly broadened if you increase the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This is the reason for the slight increase, about one and a half to two degrees. So, if we only look at this relation between increase of CO2 and global warming, global warming cannot be increased more than two degrees given that we double the CO2 concentration, which is very unlikely. This is because it is also water vapour which is influencing global warming.

Some people believe that higher water vapour content can increase the temperature further. So, if there is more water in the air, you may have, for example, more clouds being formed. We know very well that more clouds at the daytime means that it gets colder and more clouds at night means it stays warmer. Cloud formation is currently not fully understood. Therefore, this is at least to be further understood and investigated. We should try to distinguish how much of solar radiation fluctuation and how much of manmade emission of Co2 combined lead to the increase [in global warming]. Because if we don’t know how much then we don’t know how much reduction is possible and then all the actions are just are like, we don’t know let’s try.

Would you and AfD want Germany to be a part of the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement is a very weird agreement because it allows several countries to enhance CO2 emissions extensively. For example, India and China are allowed to build currently I think 600 more coal power plants. The idea is these countries need to catch up so we should also give them the permission to emit more CO2. The US does not care, so these three countries are the most important producers of CO2. Compared to the increase in these three countries, the decrease in Germany will not save our planet. If you really believe that CO2 reduction is important, which I don’t, but if you believe then the Paris Treaty does not help at all.

Germany is not going to save our planet if India, China and the US won’t join. Many Germans believe we should show the world how it works, maybe they change their mind. I think that the overall idea of this is that stay together and save the planet, yes that is a wonderful idea. But it is not going to save the planet. We should go for advanced technology rather than ruining German industry and this is what’s going to happen. If we look at the price of electricity, in Germany it’s twice as high as France. Who is suffering from that? Poor families who cannot afford electricity bills anymore and German industry who has difficulty competing on the world market.

(This interview was held on July 22, 2019 via a telephonic conversation to Florida where Prof. Dr. Bastian was for a short trip)

Chetna Krishna

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