Climate like Covid: “Deniers do not recognize the changes that are taking place and attack experts”

Simona Bordoni and image of the dry Po

Simona Bordoni professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Trento; he has recently taken part in a meeting held within the co.scienza festival, during which he spoke about climate change but above all about its perception. I must say that c“It was much more about climate change awareness than we could perceive ten years ago -he explains- I think it is also due to the fact that now the strength of the argument is that it is no longer based only on models but, unfortunately, also on strong evidence.


Professor, what are the topics you feel especially special about?
I have been asked how much and how climate change affects extreme weather events, but even though we are close to a point of no return; there is an interest in understanding how late we are. But I also gladly noted an active approach, the willingness to understand what we can do in practice.

You have had a training that has allowed you to breathe a vision of the future, to work in avant-garde places.
I got my PhD from UCLA in Los Angeles and spent twenty years in the United States – working in Colorado and the California Institute of Technology. When I met Dino Zardi I returned to Italy, for this particular degree we have in Trento in collaboration with Innsbruck. a master’s degree in environmental meteorology, the entire course of study in English.

Having lived both in Italy and on the other side of the ocean, what is the perception of climate change on both coasts?
In the United States, there is a big difference between highly aware and well-informed people and a large portion of the population who deny evidence of climate change. It must be said that this polarization is also the result of political decisions. In the United States there are famous and important political figures who, behind closed doors, agree with you on climate change but who speak in public to defend the interests of some lobbies by saying the opposite. This greatly divides the population and therefore there are people who say “the climate always varies”. the same happened with the Covid: a very strong denial of some evidence and an attack, a non-recognition of the figure of the expert, a questioning of his impartiality. California in this sense is not representative, because a part of the population is really rich and educated. In Europe we are not at this level, but also in Italy there are big differences between territories like ours and others that have a different approach. To give an example: already in Rome the issue of recycling becomes difficult to follow. Here in South Tyrol and Austria, however, I find a very similar approach.

Are pandemics, war, and the economic crisis an obstacle to a responsible approach? It seems more difficult for politics today to demand sacrifices.
Instead, I hope this is an opportunity to truly carry out the ecological transition and a sustainable economy. The green transition very much followed by the EU. I hope that the increase in the price of gas will be an opportunity to free ourselves from this dependence and embark on a path that goes towards sustainability. I think the cultural level on climate change is not that bad, but there are some pretty widespread misconceptions. Basically there is a lack of proper school education: it cannot be limited to a couple of science modules and the goodwill of the teachers, a more structured program would be needed, already at the ministerial level.

And the media, do they do a good job or are they too alarmist? Scare the useful population or not?
a great question, but the answer is not easy. Even here in Trentino, where we also witness the melting of glaciers, there are not many extreme events, not if we use a statistical approach. But precisely, being extreme these events do not occur so often and it is necessary to change perspective. Without being too pessimistic, we must also communicate that the emergency exists, or we risk not arousing attention. I think it’s helpful to have a critical approach and ask yourself a lot of questions.

In conclusion, it can be said that the enemy simplifies the understanding of the phenomenon of climate change in its gravity …
If we talk about drought, climate models say that the Mediterranean, understood as Italy, Spain, Greece, is a hot spot. The rise in temperature in the current conditions seems to have amplified, there is a trend. What we do not know about what will happen in the Alps. Snow may decrease, but rain may increase. However, this should not be construed as a sign of avoided danger. The snow level will rise more and more and extreme phenomena could increase.

The question remains: is there still time to stop all this? We should have started much earlier, what has been done in the last thirty years weighing in for decades, even making efforts to limit the rise in temperature. But it is not a good reason not to act: what we will do will not be for our children, but for our grandchildren.

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July 14, 2022 (change on July 14, 2022 | 17:54)

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