[Opinión] Humanity, science and the crossroads of the future



Marcelo Lippi Kart

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It was in the ’80s, and through the relentless sieve imposed on Chilean television, the sayings of a comprehensive scholar like Carl Sagan on his series Cosmos slipped. And he judged in the first episode: “The universe is also within us: we are made of astral matter, and we are the means of 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 became extinct, and appeared 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 small and inexperienced species, and despite the fact that we consider ourselves to have traveled on Homer’s long journey, many phenomena we experience today are not experienced by other humans before us .

Sagan may have referred to science as the path to “the universe knowing itself”; But this fascinating and incessant world also immersed itself in climatology, long before concepts such as global warming appeared on 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. The average temperature on its surface is 460 degrees Celsius.

Even today, many advocates and promoters have felt uneasy about some of Sagan’s predictions, sometimes calling them dangerous or disastrous, 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 the universe poses to us, or impose ourselves on a state of “greenhouse effect”, most of which seem to be imposed subjective.

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 recorded for the first time a time of 420 parts per million of a second 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 parts per million of carbon dioxide was measured, and in 1974, the concentration of carbon dioxide had already risen at 333.2 parts per million. 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 that ‘beyond’ 400 ppm CO2, when stations are In Antarctica it is also the symbolic threshold.

In terms of initial reversal, the last time Earth crossed this threshold was in the past during the Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, in a world dominated by giant mammals, where early hominins took their steps and the Antarctic peninsula has vast ice-free expanses. Sea levels were 15-20 meters higher, and Arctic summer temperatures are 14 degrees higher than they are 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 humans, 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 have given way today to a state in which, fully aware of the consequences of our actions, we continue to follow a model this community. In addition to Sagan’s allusion, Nobel Prize in Literature Doris Lessing stated in her book Instructions to Descent to Hell (1971) that “no one knows what was there and has disappeared irreversibly, in the number of times man has understood and forgotten” his mind, his flesh, his life, his movement, and their actions like matter 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 the crossroads of the future.

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