Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to talk about climate change at a party

This is a real conversation that took place a few days ago although, of course, the words that I report here can't be exactly what we said. The protagonists are me and an acquaintance of mine, Antonella. Imagine us holding glasses at a party. 

Antonella: Ugo, did you hear what Trump is doing? He wants to destroy the climate data!

Ugo: I heard something about that.

A. But it is awful! How can they allow him to do that? Destroying the work of the climate scientists!

U. You know this joke about Trump? The one that goes, "What happens when Donald Trump takes Viagra?"

A. Ugo, you keep joking all the time. But don't you work in this field? Why don't you tell me what you are really thinking about climate change?

U (looking somber). It is a long story.

A. Seriously, I want to know what you think.

U. Really?

A. Absolutely. Tell me what's going on.

U (after having taken a deep breath). The situation is out of control. The amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are larger than any value seen in the past 10 million years and it keeps rising. The icecaps are melting, droughts are destroying agriculture in the tropical regions, extreme weather phenomena are on the rise. Temperatures are rising and the commitments to keep the increase below two degrees are insufficient. In addition, we are in the middle of a mass extinction, destroying the fertile soil, poisoning everything, running out of mineral resources, and the planet is overpopulated.

A ....................

U ...................

A. I read that we'll soon be able to colonize other planets, is that true?

U. ........

She walks away, glass in hand.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)