“It Got Hotter and Hotter”

MARCO MILINI
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Turn off the lights when leaving a room. Walk and don’t take the car if you don’t have to go far. If it’s cold, put on an extra shirt before turning up the heating. When shopping, limit plastic packaging, even if the system encourages you to do the opposite. Reduce your consumption of meat, especially beef, because it has a very high ecological footprint. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, preferably in season…

But are there still seasons? And if they are still there, for how long? This year summer already seemed to last an eternity, with temperatures in September and October recording historic highs. For the first time, this year – for just one day, but the value is symbolic – we exceeded the threshold of 2°C increase in global temperature compared to the pre-industrial age. We crossed that threshold during the hottest, record-breaking year of vast endless fires, of ubiquitous and frequent extreme weather events, of the COP being held in the United Arab Emirates and presided over by oil companies, and the surreal and exhausting debate over whether it is humanity’s fault.

Can we do it? Will we be able to continue negotiations, to find agreements, to respect them and to implement those already made, to continue a laborious path of coordination and commitment at a global level? Will we be able to wake up in time, at a societal and political level, before we discover that we have gone too far, to figure out that the effects of the climate crisis are already here, and we need to change? The alarm clock of science has been ringing for some time. We turned away, and pulling the covers over our heads, continued to dream of a world powered by fossil fuels and unlimited growth.

This year I read The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is a topical, compelling book of realistic science fiction, extremely precise and accurate regarding the scientific and technological aspects of the solutions it proposes and very attentive to historical and political dynamics. Well written, with interesting narrative solutions, its theme is precisely that of climate change, set in the very near future. The protagonists could be all of us. The book describes how we did it: how we managed to avoid climate disaster after years of conflicts, efforts, political changes and economic transformations, and a terrible price paid in terms of human lives. It begins with these words: “It got hotter and hotter.” It could be the first line of one of our stories from the past summer, but instead it is the beginning of the description of a devastating heat wave that causes millions of deaths in India: a shock that marks a before and an after in the history of humanity.

Will we also have to wait for a disaster of unusual magnitude to take action? It seems we are on the right track. On the one hand, current government commitments are insufficient to avoid the worst effects of the ongoing climate crisis, and on the other, we seem to accept everything that happens and turn it into everyday life. This is our adaptability – however, it has limits: we are fragile, as individuals and as a society, more fragile than we believe, or thought we were just a few years ago, and things appear to be getting worse faster than scientists predicted. The general meaning is that we, the ecosystems that support us, and the Earth are in danger. Let’s face it. Let’s acknowledge it and behave accordingly: we have everything to gain. And if not everything, then a great deal compared to how much we will lose if we let things go as they always have, because there is no alternative.

This year I also read another book: Environmental Spring, by Ferdinando Cotugno, with the subtitle The last revolution to save human life on Earth.

The climate crisis is an invitation to participate in the political destinies of the world, to get out of the bubbles in which we have locked ourselves up, made only of our individual destiny.

(…) now is the time for cosmogony, imagining what we will become, who we will be, what the destination is, what is waiting for us in port after the storms. We know the other world, the one that is already breaking, now we need the new world.

(…) this radical sense of urgency is of immense political value because the revolution cannot be postponed until more fertile circumstances, it cannot be put off while waiting for ideal social conditions: they must be created, using every possible resource.

I only took a few sentences from the first chapter, but I could have taken more, because it is a small but rich book. Ferdinando Cotugno (who publishes a nice weekly newsletter, Areale) has an attentive and sensitive gaze, and he observes, describes and considers the major themes of the climate crisis we are experiencing with clarity and empathy. Topics that are also at the center of the COPs, like the one currently taking place, starting with the fundamental issue of climate justice.

Climate change requires cooperation, cooperation requires inclusion, and inclusion is justice. (…) Without attention to the needs of all humans there will never be a stabilized climate. (…) In this climate, no one will save themselves.

The book analyzes climate movements, the role of politics, Europe, each of us, and of climate activism in all its forms; it describes where we are, what we need to move and change. Cotugno’s work is an invitation, a call to participate, to question ourselves, and above all to get back into the game:

Individual responsibility has been exploited to underestimate industrial and political responsibility (…) but this does not mean that a level of personal responsibility does not exist, which goes from voting to the table, from the bank account to the streets. (…) The good thing is that no perfection is required.

To conclude: these days, the weather outside my window is variable, tending towards grey, rain, and some rays of sunshine, fluctuating temperatures, instability. The future is uncertain, but we have the resources, the tools and the numbers to save everything that can be saved, and to secure ourselves the right to live – all of us – in a just and welcoming future world.

Cover Photo by Loren Gu on Unsplash

Translation by Paul Rosenberg

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“It Got Hotter and Hotter” ultima modifica: 2023-11-30T18:55:42+01:00 da MARCO MILINI
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