The Nobel Prize in Physics Giorgio Parisi: “We are always promising a lot, keep a little”
“At the G20 an agreement was reached on limiting global warming to within 1.5 degrees, but it is one thing to tell you these things, it is quite another to concretely establish a series of measures to be addressed, a road map; otherwise in five years we meet again to see the impossibility of the result. If a detailed plan is not realized, and shared by the nations, it is difficult to think that the promise will be kept ”. There is a lot of skepticism in the words of the Nobel Prize in Physics
Giorgio Parisi, a student of complex systems, such as that of changing climate.
First of all, with respect to the climate there are still those who express doubts about the claims of scientists. Is science today capable of accurately deciphering the problem?
“The forecasts give us a spectrum of possibilities, and even the most conservative ones offer safe and reliable values that correspond to strong increases in changes. What we need now is more research to reduce the range of hypotheses, make them more precise and, above all, become more and more effective in controlling unforeseen events. In the past three years, for example, forest fires have increased, which emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Making an estimate is difficult, but certainly such events accelerate the deterioration ».
Returning to the “detailed plan” you ask, what do you mean?
“In the meantime, it is necessary to understand that the necessary interventions affect the habits of the populations. When I go to Hong Kong I have to go around with the wool sweater in the subway or in the hotel to protect myself from the cold even in summer … These are wastes that must be eliminated. In any case, first of all we need a precise list of the interventions to be implemented ».
Beyond the commitments obtained at the G20 in Rome, the positions of the large countries in Glasgow remain different …
“This is reality. These are national economies in competition with each other. The fundamental problem is to “slow down” these economies to slow down emissions and do so with the consent of the populations. There was also talk of one hundred billion dollars a year to be guaranteed to developing countries to help them acquire non-polluting energy technologies. These are peanuts for rich countries, but still a lot of that money has not been disbursed. We always go back to “promise a lot and keep a little” ».
It is widely argued that the use of renewable energies is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions. What do you think of it?
«It is clear that many resources must be used. Starting with savings. We build mega-cities towards which queues of cars are queued every day … it is clear that we need to find ways to consume less by increasing public services. Our homes need to be adapted to greater energy efficiency and businesses need to introduce less energy-intensive industrial processes. And again: citizens must be convinced, for example by starting to accept car sharing more to get around. There is a huge waste in the manufacture of automobiles: reducing it will help ».
In order to have an energy source without emissions, the hypothesis of a return to nuclear power is emerging in various countries …
“On the issue we need to look at the damage-to-benefit ratio and it all depends on the country. If Chernobyl had been in the Po Valley, with a population much higher than that of the then USSR, it would have caused millions of deaths. In any case, it is to be excluded in densely populated countries such as Italy. For the fourth generation of nuclear fission plants which are talked about because they are safer, there are now only prototypes that have to prove their quality; however they are always excluded where people live. It is different if the Chinese want to build them in remote areas ».
Do you think the goal of “zero emissions” for the middle of the century is possible?
“Without a precise plan, it’s an illusion. When at CERN they decide to build a new accelerator to be switched on twenty years later, year after year, they begin to determine what to have. This is how it should be done. For transport, if we use biofuels, we must organize to produce them, otherwise trucks, ships and planes will continue to use fossil resources ».
Are we doing enough in Italy to tackle climate change?
“I have the impression that things are not well understood and deemed necessary. I don’t see people installing solar panels on roofs. In Rome, if we do a survey, on the roofs we see more swimming pools than solar cells. It is clear that the municipal administrations should prepare rules and urge the condominiums to implement interventions, perhaps offering assistance to projects without any charge ».
Prime Minister Mario Draghi stressed that insufficient steps have been taken so far. United Nations Secretary António Guterres spoke of “unfulfilled hopes, but at least not buried”. His opinion?
November 3, 2021 (change November 5, 2021 | 21:28)