Kerry Emanuel, professore di Meteorologia al MIT, dedica un lungo articolo a una spiegazione chiara e impeccabile del problema del mutamento climatico («Phaeton’s Reins», Boston Review, gennaio-febbraio 2007). Il riscaldamento globale è una realtà, e la sua origine antropogenica è sul punto di diventare un dato acquisito (come illustra in modo pregnante il grafico qui sopra); l’incertezza riguarda soltanto le conseguenze economiche e sociali sull’ambiente umano.
Non banali le considerazioni politiche di Emanuel, alla fine dell’articolo:
Especially in the United States, the political debate about global climate change became polarized along the conservative-liberal axis some decades ago. Although we take this for granted now, it is not entirely obvious why the chips fell the way they did. One can easily imagine conservatives embracing the notion of climate change in support of actions they might like to see anyway. Conservatives have usually been strong supporters of nuclear power, and few can be happy about our current dependence on foreign oil. The United States is renowned for its technological innovation and should be at an advantage in making money from any global sea change in energy-producing technology: consider the prospect of selling new means of powering vehicles and electrical generation to China’s rapidly expanding economy. But none of this has happened.Da leggere con tutta l’attenzione possibile; per gli aggiornamenti sullo stato della questione, non si raccomanderà invece mai abbastanza il blog RealClimate.
Paradoxes abound on the political left as well. A meaningful reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions will require a shift in the means of producing energy, as well as conservation measures. But such alternatives as nuclear and wind power are viewed with deep ambivalence by the left. Senator Kennedy, by most measures our most liberal senator, is strongly opposed to a project to develop wind energy near his home in Hyannis, and environmentalists have only just begun to rethink their visceral opposition to nuclear power. Had it not been for green opposition, the United States today might derive most of its electricity from nuclear power, as does France; thus the environmentalists must accept a large measure of responsibility for today’s most critical environmental problem.