[Opinión] Humanity, science and the crossroads of the future
Marcelo Lippi Kart
It was the ’80s, and through the relentless sieve imposed on Chilean television the aphorisms of an inclusive scientist like Carl Sagan on his series Cosmos receded. And he judged in the first episode: “The universe is within us too: we are made of astral matter, and we are the means for the universe to know itself! Homo sapiens species, as Linnaeus baptized us in 1758, with the rest of the universe.”
Our genus Homo is a group of primates, almost all of which are extinct, appearing about 2.5 million years ago. However, the most reliable fossil evidence indicates that the origin of Homo sapiens exceeded 300,000 years, which means that we are a young and inexperienced species, and despite the fact that we consider that we have traveled on Homer’s long journey, many of the phenomena we experience today have not been experienced by humans Others accepted us.
Sagan may have referred to science as the path to “the universe knowing itself”; But this fascinating scientist and communicator also immersed himself in climatology, long before concepts like global warming made it to the front pages of the world. In the same “Cosmos” series, he pointed out the dangers involved in the combustion of fossil fuels and the consequent release of carbon dioxide and global warming due to the aforementioned global warming, a phenomenon that would make Venus uninhabitable today. It averages 460 degrees Celsius on its surface.
Even today, many advocates and promoters have felt uneasy about some of Sagan’s predictions, sometimes calling them dangerous or catastrophic, but they are far from it. They are, in most cases, highly responsible statements driven by an endless amount of scientific evidence, and he is also a fervent believer in humanity and knowledge as the keys to a world that will continue to meet the challenges that the universe imposes on us, or we impose ourselves on a situation of “greenhouse effect”, most of it seems imposed subjectively.
A few days ago, on the night of April 3, 2022, to be more precise — without the apocalypse horns — the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mauna Loa (Hawaii) research station announced that its instruments had recorded for the first time 420 parts per million of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (parts per million of carbon dioxide). Mauna Loa began its measurements in May 1974, supplementing the measurements begun by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March 1958. In 585, 315.7 ppm CO2 was measured, and in 1974, the CO2 concentration had already risen at 333.2 ppm . In May 2013 this was the first time Mauna Loa had recorded 400 ppm CO2 and in 2016 we were already officially and irrevocably entering a world “exceeding” 400 ppm CO2, when stations in Antarctica is also the symbolic threshold.
In connection with the initial reversal, the last time the Earth crossed this threshold was in the past during the Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, in a world dominated by giant mammals, where the first hominins (hominins) made their stride and the Antarctic Peninsula has vast areas Ice free. Sea levels were 15-20 meters higher, and Arctic temperatures in summer were 14 degrees higher than today. Therefore, everything on which our generation lives will be completely new and unprecedented for our species, since we appeared long after the Pliocene.
Human-centered arrogance is practically overcome by facts. We, as humankind, have outgrown the planet’s ability to recover the greenhouse gases we’ve produced since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and what might initially be interpreted as a misunderstanding of the cycles that govern elements like carbon, today they have given way to a state in which we, fully aware of the consequences of our actions, continue to follow this The model of society. In addition to Sagan’s allusion, the Nobel Prize for Literature Doris Lessing stated in her book Instructions to Go Down to Hell (1971) that “no one knows what was there and has disappeared irreversibly, in the number of occasions man has understood and forgotten” his mind, his flesh, his life, his movement, and their actions such as the matter of stars, sun and planets; And that the core of the sun is special to it.”
Sagan argued that scientists should not be separated from their humanity and I believe that in these times, in both science and humanity, the answers lie at this crossroads of the future.