Carlo Rubbia argues economic measures are insufficient to combat climate change

July 4, 2007 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Alps, Climate change, Glaciers, Italy, My photos, Photography, Rubbia, Venice | Leave a comment

Italy’s Nobel-prize winning physicist Carlo Rubbia said recently that if humanity failed to change its ways, it would pay the price within a decade or so.The physicist, who headed the Italian Institute for New Technologies, Energy and Environment until 2005, said reports claiming that all ice would disappear from the Alps and that Venice could soon be under water were no exaggeration.

Fishing in Venice lagoon

The City of Venice and its lagoon, which are together subject to a UNESCO International Safeguarding Campaign.

“We are facing an emergency. We have ten to 15 years to change the world, otherwise the world will change us. And it will change us in terrible ways,” he said.

“The only solution is technology. The only way forward is research, research and more research,” he said.Rubbia urged the world’s governments to plough funds into scientific and technological research which would help drastically reduce pollution and hopefully halt global warming.

He argued that economic or political measures, such as incentives to use less oil derivatives, would never produce results fast enough.

Rubbia has won international acclaim not only for his work in the field of particle physics but also in driving forward the development of renewable energy resources.

He is currently professor at the University of Pavia, Italy and has recently worked at a project on solar thermal energy plants in Spain.

Read the full story in Italy (top magazine for news on all things Italian). It begins:

Climate change is hitting the Alps hard with major melting that is proceeding faster than expected, an environmental report warned on Monday.

The report, presented to a conference here on the impact of climate change on glaciers, said that the Alps’ glacial area had shrunk 20% over the past 20 years.

It said some 800 glaciers on the Italian side of the Alps were not only melting but that the area was warming up at a faster rate than the rest of the country.

Climate experts told the conference that the latest research showed Alpine temperatures increasing at double the pace seen in low-lying and coastal regions.

“Over the past century, air temperatures in the Alps have risen an average 1.5-2 degrees whereas in the rest of Europe, they have increased less than one degree,” one expert said.

Conference members were also told that the number of days per year in which Alpine temperatures dropped below freezing were diminishing.

Over the period 1961-2004, there was a 20% reduction in the number of freezing days in the Alps.

The great mountain range’s icy crust of permafrost is also disappearing, the experts said.

Mountain Wilderness Italia, a group dedicated to the preservation of Italy’s mountainous areas, has also sounded the alarm, saying that ice is falling off peaks across the Italian Alps and Dolomites.

“All you have to do is take a climbing guide from 15 years ago. A spot that is described in the book as a snow-covered ridge is now gravel,” it said.

I do not read articles like this and think “These guys are a bunch of alarmists!” They see the effects of climate change on their doorsteps. This is just reality.

A long time ago, I flew to Milan on business several times, and was tempted to take an aerial photograph out of my window as we passed over the stunning snow-topped Italian alps. I was warned against it by another passenger, fearing the military would arrest me on landing. I can’t help thinking a photo would have been cool (even if it had landed me in an Italian clink overnight!)

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