An extraterrestrial creature on Earth

In the 1700s James Hutton, geology’s and modern scientific reasoning’s forefather, invented the “Principle of knowledge”, according to which it is necessary to study the past in order to have the key to understanding the present and attempt to foresee the future. Only through intensive scientific research it appears possible to separate the influence of human actions and activities from the long term trend which is determined by natural events. Hence the great importance of science both in terms of prevention which can cut the huge costs of intervention following natural disasters, and as a means to help plan future population developments, in other words, sustainable development. One must bear in mind that climate cycles have always occurred on planet Earth, therefore one must study and observe very carefully what happened in the past. In fact, as scientists working for ICRAM say, a hypothetical visitor from outer space, could consider Earth’s climate evolution in a completely different way based on the observation’s time span. Let’s imagine that our extraterrestrial visitor’s spaceship has broken down and he has landed on a beach in the early hours of the morning. This creature, who knows nothing at all about astronomy, will notice that the temperature will increase drastically between 8 o’clock in the morning and midday. What is going to happen in the next few hours? The extraterrestrial may think that he is destined to fry under the sun but in the following hours, as dusk and night arrive followed by a new day, will help him to understand that there is a daily cycle.
In the same way, by observing the climatic evolution of the past century, we can notice a global warming trend of the climate. This trend however is a natural part of secular variations that have been happening since the beginning of history. In the same way, if we could record climate variations for a period of time spanning hundreds of thousands of years, we would notice the alternation between glacial and interglacial cycles.
The degree of uncertainty of the different forecast mathematical models studied so far is still too high, while local effects, which are difficult to take into consideration in global estimates, could very likely be predominant.
We still have many doubts even from a scientific point of view so we must do more research in order to understand better the complex climatic patterns, and take advantage of the so-called “precaution principle”, that is to foresee the worst case scenario in order to “prevent” before the “cure” may become useless. Worst case scenario forecasts, even though uncertain, must always be taken into consideration when facing environmental planning and managing activities.
And what can each one of us citizens do in this climate of uncertainty? Obviously each and everyone one of us can help. One just needs to think that 25% of North American carbon dioxide emissions are produced by private citizens, which is the equivalent of 9 tons of CO2 pro capita per year.

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    Save the air

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  • air

    The greenhouse effect

    Look

    ecosystems

    Deforestation

    Look
  • air

    Albedo

    Look

    air

    Future scenarios of an increase in the temperature

    Look
  • air

    Icebergs, ice packs and glaciers

    Look

    air

    Mean sea level rise foreseen by IPCC

    Look

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