Climategate



Facts are known: in the first half of November 2009, someone hacked a server used by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England (UK) and stole about 160MB consisting of more than 1,000 e-mails and 3,000 other documents pertaining to climate change research covering a period from 1996 until 2009. Later on the files were copied to numerous sites across the web to make them public. The published documents and messages seems to show collusion by climate scientists to withhold scientific information in order to demonstrate that the Earth is getting warmer because of human activities.

It is not the objective of this article to demonstrate whatever thesis. Global warming is a fact, as well as it is a fact that we are polluting our planet. If there is a relationship between the two facts is still controversial. We know that the planet passed through periods of global warming in the past, when human race was not able to bias the global climate in any way. On the other hand, we also know that some activity, as burning fossil fuels, is definitively contributing to climate change. The debate is about the percentage of contribution, that is, whether our contribution be significant or irrelevant.

I have not an answer, of course, but I would like to stress an aspect that seems to be underestimated in such a debate. Most people think that if global warming is our fault we must do something to prevent it. But what if it is not our fault? This is the real point, because if the causes of global warming do not depend from our activities, there is nothing we can do to stop it, and in such a case we should prepare ourselves to live on a very different planet.

Withholding information is a mistake, even if it was done for a good reason, that is, to develop in most people awareness that we are responsible for our own planet. In fact, if we do not take in consideration the possibility that there are other causes to global warming, we will focus only on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But if we are wrong, we will be not prepared to the consequences of warming as, for instance, the increase of sea level. Most people live on the coasts and a significant increase of the level of seas and oceans will make those areas uninhabitable, forcing a billion people to move towards inland countries. That will create serious conflicts with existing residents: civil wars.

So, being responsible for global warming is a better scenario, because at least we have a chance to change our future. But if the most important cause is related to external factors, in such a case we risk to be caught unprepared. My personal opinion is that we must consider both possibilities, that is, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions but we must also prepare to face the consequences of warming in any case, not assuming we will succeed to stop it.

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