Something is changing

Photo by Esther Driehaus

Letizia Petulicchio

Letizia Petulicchio

Advancing deserts, melting glaciers, temperatures continuously increasing : these are signals of a drastic change and they come straight from planet Earth. It seems something big is happening, but how will it end? For billions of years Earth has lived on balances, which guarantee life in a surprising way. All appears to be meticulously calculated, everything that happens on the ground, sea and sky, moves in straight relation with living organisms that inhabit it. A mysterious, powerful and odd frightful force keeps in its hands these precious balances, which sometimes we see blowing up in both extraordinary and catastrophic events. That same ground on which we build our cities is able to shake and destroy, and the same mild wave, which cradle the sea, can wake up and strongly crush everything. This is nature, which we love like home and fear like a mistress, without knowing for sure if it’s with or against us. However, what is the difference when is man, strengthened by his progress, who decides whether to be for or against nature? This is the conflict that has recently been felt in the great squares of the world: colorful signs that ask for respect in the name of the Earth, and grey buildings that enclose these squares without an answer. What’s happening? Why is humanity suddenly finding itself trapped and threatened by itself and by its own home? Global warming, carbon dioxide, petrol: these are the keywords of disaster, these are the villains of a frightening ending story, of which we only know a few bits, they however become the enemies to fear and to fight in this general confusion. If on one hand politics shows itself to be unprepared and inadequate to provide solutions, on the other this so evident and widespread inability to understand what is happening is resulting in universally approved theories that don’t seem to require further confirmation. So, while scaremongers invade media invoking a drastic change, deniers stubbornly try to convince crowds that man can’t do anything about global warming. The debate grows, fed by accusations of all kinds, starting with the conspiracy of renewables ending with the conspiracy of industries: everyone likes to call themselves scientists and everyone has their own idea about petrol geopolitics. There’s no doubt there are great interests at stake and for this reason the keyword to understand what’s happening is conscience. Since we can’t say anything about the future with certainty, the present is the first starting point for a concrete judgment. Modern progress is essentially connected to energy, which is itself currently linked to the word emission: 80% of the energy produced in Europe is essentially obtained by burning hydrocarbons, and therefore generating exhaust gas emissions. Together with waste pollution, greenhouse gas emissions are the focus of protests which are asking governments for concrete actions against climate emergency. But what are these concrete actions? What solutions should governments adopt? Where will we find this energy, now that we no longer want what we have? This question does not have a simple answer, because renewable energies are not enough, electric machines are not enough, and recycling is not enough. This can be seen by looking at the numbers, not the very discussed ones about temperature’s rising, but the numbers that tell our everyday life: where does our energy come from, how much of it do we buy, how much does it cost and how do we use it. These numbers show the real problem: our days depend on an extremely complex system, of which we have not the slightest awareness. If it can be said that the use of hydrocarbon sources represents an environmental problem, it is first of all  necessary to recognize that their market tightens the world in a network of exchange as delicate as it is dangerous, which goes beyond the issue of emissions. Taking measures to limit the dependence on fossil fuels is certainly necessary and urgent, but first, it is essential to understand the complexity of the problem and scrupulously evaluate every solution proposal, with all its consequences. Today, in 2019, we live in a world that is not sustainable, precisely in the most common meaning of the term: it’s an unbearable situation, we cannot go on in this way. This should be first of all explained to thousands of kids who skip school to protest in the name of the planet, while another 60 million kids of the same planet have never had the chance to attend it.

How much do we really know about what is happening in the world? How much are we aware of what is happening today, instead of what will occur in the future? In an increasingly globalized context, we are still used to thinking about the world excluding those hundred million people who don’t think about emissions because they simply do not have food.

How does this perspective fit into the change we are asking for? And what price does it have? Even if recognizing the complexity of the problem does not mean solving it, it is at least the first step to get a concretely constructive gaze. Our role, the role of young people, of students and of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, is above all to have the responsibility of a conscience.

Even if nowadays adults are not able to give answers and they actually recognize with embarrassment their acceptance of protests, by accusing “powers of force majeure”, from today on it is not enough to accuse, but it is necessary to educate. Justifying a school absence in favor of the planet has no meaning if schools themselves do not provide the necessary tools to build a critical conscience. In the same way, if the issue is still who is right or wrong about global warming then debates on TV have no value. Meanwhile, the Earth will continue to spin, to change, to evolve, its balances will continue to act mysteriously, leaving the last word to posterity: how will it end?

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