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How to talk about climate change at a party

Ugo Bardi, professor in Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence, writes: 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. Imagine us holding glasses while at a party.

Ugo Bardi, Cassandra’s Legacy

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

Me: I heard something about that.

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

Me. You know this joke about Trump? The one that goes, “What happens when Donald Trump takes Viagra?”

Her. 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?

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

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

Me. Really?

Her. Absolutely. Tell me what’s going on.

Me (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.

Her ………………..

Me ……………….

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

Me. ……..

She walks away, glass in hand.

The mineral pie is shrinking, and most of what’s left is in the sky
Ugo Bardi, Cassandra’s Legacy
The essence of propaganda, as it is well-known, is not so much telling lies, but presenting only one aspect of the truth. That’s true also for the depletion debate. Saying that a certain resource will last decades, centuries, or more is not a lie, but not the truth, either.

Trump: the Defeat of Science
Ugo Bardi, Cassandra’s Legacy
So far, scientists have reacted with appropriate outrage to possibilities such as Trump repudiating the Paris climate treaty. However, on the average, scientists seem to be completely unable to even imagine that there may be something wrong with what they have been doing. We may have here a good illustration of the principle expressed by James Schlesinger that “people have only two modes of operation: complacency and panic”. Even though some scientists are starting to show symptoms of panic, most of them seem to be still in complacency mode.



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