Is manipulating the climate God’s work? Mankind, since Moses and ancient Cherokee tribes, has always tried to control the sun and the wind. Nowadays, thanks to advances in climatology and meteorology, controlling the climate has become a feasible option. However, it is a very controversial issue that involves concerns related to potential risks and requires a wide array of social and political responses. Journalist Emanuele Bompan asked Professor Ken Caldeira (Stanford University and lead author of the “State of the Carbon Cycle Report”, a study for the US Congress), to tell us more about geoengineering. «We have some technological options – he says – but it is never easy to talk about geoengineering because it requires having to face concerns that arise when we start interfering with something as complicated as our Planet».
The book “Merchants of Doubt” addresses the connections among scientific research, politics and the role that media play in building connections between technical knowledge and common knowledge. Science historian at the University of San Diego and co-author of the book, Naomi Oreskes explains to Emanuele Bompan and Paolo Savoia that science is a historical process. “Scientific activity is a rather complicated affair – she says – It is a human activity in which progress and expert judgment is fundamental. What we call scientific knowledge is the result of collaboration, research, proof, and consensus, however partial, from a community of experts that formulate informed judgments, though they are still subjective, on the information they gather, and eventually draw conclusions about their meaning”. Dealing with science, media usually grant equal space to two opinions that are not equally supported by scientific evidence. “Journalists – Naomi Oreskes assesses – should stop and reflect for a moment on what it means to be objective”.
Common yet differentiated responsibilities and capacities, clean technologies and the right for all countries to sustainable development. In the attempt to establish a cooperative, equitable global approach based on these principles, India is becoming a strategically important actor in global climate negotiations. India is a developing country, and its government maintains that it is not responsible for past greenhouse gas emissions and any solution to climate change must take the issue of equity into account. Therefore, India is assuming a leading role to move forward and to couple the historical responsibility of developed countries with assuring the right for all countries to sustainable development. In an interview conducted by Laura Caciagli, Prof. P.R. Shukla addresses these topics and explains how India is tackling the numerous climate change issues as well as the country’s urgent and critical concerns.
It supplies fresh potable water to nearly half the global population, it preserves and fosters aquatic ecosystems and it is essential for economic growth and agriculture. It is a critical resource threatened by human activities and by the impacts of climate change. Jason Gurdak, co-author of the book “Climate Change Effects on Groundwater Resources: A Global Synthesis of Findings and Recommendations”, introduces the still largely unexplored theme of the complex relation between climate variables and groundwater, underlying gaps in the research and policies still to be filled to better plan and manage groundwater resources under increased stresses from population growth and industrial, agricultural, and ecological needs.
Support to adaptation has been based largely on the premise that individuals, communities, and organizations perceiving a threat to their lifestyle will respond to that threat and inspire adaptation. But what if achieving the desired reduction in vulnerability for a population or region requires the action of many individuals who have no motivation to act on their own? Hallie Eakin and Emma Tompkins discuss what they describe as the “private provisioning of public adaptation goods” and how to encourage private actors to contribute to public adaptation in an article lately featured in “Global Environmental Change-Human and Policy Dimensions”.
What happens when artists and scientists gather on a schooner and cruise the Artic seas and work together in the meantime? The answer is Cape Farewell, a project founded and directed by David Buckland to develop the language we use that converts numbers into stories, and to inform the public about scientific discoveries. “We need to understand the world on an emotional basis again”, Buckland says in Laura Caciagli’s interview, “but why should we look at climate change as a tragedy, perhaps it is more a comedy of human error? Importantly it does provide us with the opportunity to question some of our key values and with the possibility for a societal switch”. For Climate is Culture.
Food security should be considered along with human rights. That’s why climate negotiations need to value the impacts of climate change on land use for they are rather relevant. In this conversation with Climate Science & Policy, Molly Jahn – Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co – author of “What next for agriculture after Durban?” – points out the need to foster the integration of agriculture in climate talks. We are going to face negative impacts but some benefits as well, Molly Jahn says, and to include them in the conversation on REDD+(as in the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action”) is a first step. In any case, we should consider food security and agriculture among the highest priority in climate policy and research.
Rio+20 needs to be more than just economics and has to cope with fundamental barriers. A suite of persistent, evolving and emerging crises is becoming real and is going to affect our lives in the long term. To deal with subsidies is good in the short period but is not enough and we should focus on critical sectors of the economy such as human and natural capital. Starting from a question that was raised twenty years ago: did the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 fail? It did not; it rather laid the foundations upon which a new generation of leaders must build something. The 2012 Aurelio Peccei Lecture by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.