The world is burning… and we are holding the match

On 22nd of April 2016 the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement was signed in Paris, thinking we had time, thinking that humanity could reverse the negative impact its progress had on the planet. However, on the 1st of June 2017 USA’s president shamelessly announces his country’s withdrawal from said agreement, add to that when one then thinks about all the amount of CO2 that recent fires have emitted into the atmosphere and the constant rising sea levels one can’t help but wonder… did we run out of time to repair the damage? And we know things are reaching critical point when even the Siberian tundra stars burning uncontrollably, a total of 13.1 million hectares have burned, including 4.3 million hectares of taiga forest. (1)

For the sake of briefness, we’ll only examine the facts from the past decade and delve into some important details that might have escaped our attention. At first, I would start with one of the most infamous tweets in history and explaining why Mr. Trump is either greatly misinformed or just dangerously ignorant.

Climate change is not just a modern trend but has deep roots in science, the term “global warming” itself was recorded for the first time in 1957 by Roger Revelle, an all-American scientist and scholar, in a report he published in The Hammond Times newspaper. Revelle focused his research into the effects of increasing human-caused CO2 emissions on the greenhouse effect: “a large-scale global warming, with radical climate changes may result”. (2)

A while later, due to the increasing heatwaves and drought problems in the summer of 1988, James Hansen decisively stated: “Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming.” (3)

Unfortunately, President Trump isn’t the only example of a powerful man who displays unparallel ignorance when it comes to topics like climate change, global warming and the role that humanity plays in both these. Another scary fact that comes in play here is that there are people in his office that actively support his ignorance, people like Tom Coburn (yes, the man that voted NO to protecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems in 2013) (4) is one of those that openly calls global warming science “crap” and admits, with a rather ridiculous amount of pride, of being “a global warming denier” as well. Coincidentally, both of these gentlemen are representatives of the stereotypical white male, affiliated with the Republican party of the USA and from the generation for which the infamous “ok boomer” joke was invented.

The world is also well familiarized with President Trump’s drawing skills from when he decided to “warn” people in Alabama that hurricane Dorian would hit them (5). However, going over the recent experiences the US has had with tornados and hurricanes perhaps the President should stop spreading unnecessary panic amongst his nation, especially when people were still recovering from the raging fires in California.

Global warming also increases water vapor in the atmosphere, which can result in heavier rains, snowstorms and a change in temperature. This, in turn, can also cause the escalation of the category of a tropical storm or a tsunami. Warmer ocean temperatures and higher sea levels are expected to intensify the impact of hurricanes such as Sandy, Harvey and Michael.



Even though fires in California are not uncommon events, in 2019, the burned land was estimated to be 259,823 acres with only 5 dead and 22 injured and an unknown number of killed animals.

But apparently, these evidences, which were presented by numerous scientists all around the globe, are still inconclusive for the president of the USA because he tweeted again mocking global warming.

One would expect the President of one of the most powerful nations to have basic knowledge of the difference between climate and weather but that is definitely not the case with Trump. In addition, we’ll see what his team should have briefed him on before he took it upon him to mock one of the most serious issues mankind is facing:

« Climate is defined as the average weather patterns in a region over a long period of time. It’s the difference between Europe’s temperate and Mediterranean zones versus the harsh cold conditions of the Arctic tundra. Each of these climate regions experiences day-to-day fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, air pressure, and so on—daily variations known as weather. » (6)


While it is true that at the beginning the term “global warming” was used to explain the phenomenon of greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere and warming the average temperature of the planet, this has not been the case for decades. Scientists also discovered that the atmosphere changed by rising levels of gases like carbon and methane lead to unexpected climate changes and not simple warming. In fact, this saturation of gasses causes extreme weather, with disastrous consequence. While North America suffered the effects of the polar vortex bringing cold, Arctic air, the rest of the world was abnormally hot (7).

It is only fair to note that the USA is not the only country with a leadership problem at the moment. The far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, won the elections of his country by vowing to loosen up protections for forested areas inhabited by indigenous people in favor of the country’s powerful agribusiness industry (8). Alongside other debatable policies, Bolsonaro’s choice of environment minister, Ricardo Salles, threw the country into a frenzy. Salles was not only found guilty of administrative improprieties for having altered a map to benefit mining companies just a year earlier (9) but he also exemplifies the radical and even violent anti-environmentalism policies imposed on the Amazon rainforest. Even though most of the recent fires were started by men, which in turn were permitted by the law to do so, it is impossible to deny the drought conditions that helped the flames spread.

(Amazona fires, 2019)

The repercussions (so far with an unknown official number of human victims) of this reckless domain of power are:

· Over 7,200 square miles (10) (18648 squared km) of the Brazilian rainforest burned to ashes.

· Economic damage between $957 billion and $3.59 trillion over 30 years (11)

· Around 2.3 million animals dead

Usually people say “third time is the charm” but this third person in the list is anything but that, in fact, he is one of the ardent deniers of climate change even though his country has just lived the most devastating catastrophe in its history. Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison claimed that there was no “direct link” between the fires and the climate change (12) and we’re just focusing on the bushfires from 2019/2020 period.

Just like the previous two names in the article, Morrison has his army of delusional supporters in his party, such as the science minister, Craig Kelly, that denies any and all possible links between the drought as a consequence of climate change and main cause of the recent fires (13). It is baffling how men with power chose to ignore a topic only because they are too stubborn to admit they are wrong, but oh well we do live in times when some people even argue that Earth is flat…

One of the biggest problems of the past decade was the bleaching and subsequent death of the Great Barrier Reef that is the world’s largest coral reef system. Fortunately for us. not all is lost on that front, but its cause is undeniable: the global warming is responsible for melting ice and elevating the oceans temperature which in turn affects every living thing under the surface of water.

Going back to the issue at hand, it was estimated that around 13% of the fires were started deliberately, and 37% are suspicious (14) but the environmental conditions didn’t help either. Australia faced its hottest year in history, with 1.52 °C above average, the record-breaking heat paired with the drought and lighting strikes caused the still ongoing crisis (as of 24th of January 2020).

(Australia 2020)

And some people even tried to put the ongoing catastrophe into perspective:

Up to this moment, the damages of the bushfires are disastrous:

  • 24 human lives lost and more than 2,000 homes destroyed.
  • 17.1 million hectares burned (more than two-thirds the size of the United Kingdom) (15).
  • Over half a billion animals dead: over 500,000,000 animal bodies violently reduced to nothing but scorched shells because mankind is actively destroying the environment and some of the biggest culprits still deny that there even is a problem.

There are certain, more graphic, photos that are on the Internet of a burned to charcoal kangaroo joey for example, gripping tightly with its small paws the metallic wire of a fence or a koala hugging a burning tree, literally holding on for dear life, a life that is nearing its end, a life that ran out of time to be lived… perhaps one of these could’ve captured the attention of a certain global warming deniers. Nevertheless, this article does not have the purpose of converting the recent devastating losses in click bait material.

The increase in temperatures is one of the worst sides of climate change and it is not a mild inconvenience, it doesn’t go away when we turn on the air conditioning. The global temperature of the planet has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880 and NASA explains why this is not a minor issue:

«A one-degree global change is significant because it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much. In the past, a one- to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. A five-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice 20,000 years ago.» (16)



Even countries such as Spain are beginning to experience the effects of this extreme weather phenomena with the most recent passing of the storm called Gloria and because of the constant rise of temperature of the Mediterranean Sea the following storms will only intensify in strength.

Gloria’s rainfall set new records of 580l/m2 in 24h in Alicante and 567 l/m2 in Valencia (17), waves up to 14 meters in height in Baleares, several bridges carried away by the overflowing rivers in Catalonia and winds up to 133km/h in Asturias (18). The storm claimed nine human lives, four missing people and just like all the previous disasters on the list, millions and millions worth of damages.

While ignorant and bigoted Presidents, mainly represented by Donald J. Trump, waste their time making fun of a teenager who tries to raise awareness on the issue, different corners of the planet Earth are burning to ashes and others are drowning in storms…

Are those the leaders we trust with our lives and well-being? Is the stance of a man that has the speaking level of an 8 – year – old (19) more valid than that of 97% of the world’s scientists? And above all… what measures can we take to stop this future climate crisis before it’s too late or… did we already run out of time to make amends?

written by Evelina Tancheva



3 U.S. Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 100th Cong. 1st sess. (23 June 1988). Greenhouse Effect and Global Climate Change: hearing before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, part 2. /U.S. Senate, Hearings 1988, p. 44.



















Climate Emergency and Civil Disobedience



The urgency of action

Anyone who is intellectually honest and who has taken the time to document himself knows that our civilization is galloping towards a wall. It is useless to beat around the bush, the effects of human activity on the environment are unequivocal and under everyone’s eyes. I came up with this article to give myself a general picture of both the phenomenon and the historical moment we are living. In the first part, I list a series of incontrovertible data that outline the current situation (and I warmly invite the sceptics to verify the sources). In the second part, I make a brief consideration about the peculiarity of the problem. Then, I report the forecasts of the most eminent body on the subject: the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Subsequently, I give space to some critics addressed to the IPCC, accused by a slice of the scientific community of being too conservative in its estimates. Finally, I conclude with some reference to working groups and initiatives to save what can be saved.

The situation today

With the year 2018 we have just experienced the four hottest years in history (from the start date of measurements), with as many as 17 of the 18 warmest years in the new millennium [1a] [1b]. Reason for which the Arctic continues to lose a volume of ice at the rate of about 13% per decade, following a rising trend (it is estimated that between 1979 and 2018 the ice lost has been between 35 and 65%) [2]. In the meanwhile, the seas have already risen by 80mm since 1993 [3] and we begin to see its impact on the total surface of emerged land (see Florida, or the 5 islands in the middle of the Pacific erased from the maps) [4];[5]. In addition to the uninhabitability of some coastal areas, climate change increases episodes of drought and floods. These extreme events impact the livelihood of entire countries, reason for which migrants caused by climate change are increasing, and the United Nations estimates they could reach up to one billion by 2050 [6]. Meanwhile, permafrost in Siberia and Alaska began to melt, releasing methane and probably triggering a chain mechanism that cannot be stopped [7]. As if this was not enough, pollution and economic overproduction are amplifying the effects of climate change, seriously damaging the planet’s biodiversity. In 2016, the WWF declared that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction in the history of our planet, with a loss of global wildlife topping to 58% just between 1970 and 2012 [8a]. This is validated by the United Nations’ Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which estimates a rate of species extinction already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years and likely to accelerate [8b]. Unfortunately, the list is still long: from the acidification of oceans, with the consequent annihilation of entire ecosystems (see coral reefs), to whales dying from plastic indigestion, fires increasingly frequent and extensive, stronger whirlwinds and hurricanes due to the greater energy present in the air, the melting of glaciers, more and more countries experiencing water scarcity, etc … [9];[10];[11].

WWF 2016 Living Planet Report. Intense colour indicates absolute water scarcity, the middle one indicates water scarcity and the green one water stress.

The response

The main problem in dealing with climate change is the discrepancy between its global nature and the political structure of human beings relying on multiple States. Furthermore, the first impacts of climate change have been localized, causing far greater damage in poorer countries. This has contributed to a general feeling that climate change was just another plague of the South of the world and that the West (the only possible leader of an international equity-based concertation) would not have suffered much from it. However, recently, the effects have started to become increasingly stronger and more frequent, helping a belated as much as indispensable global awareness. 

Prospects according to the IPCC

While the time available is relentlessly thinning, indifferent to the long delays necessary for international coordination, the planet’s temperature has already increased by one degree and the damage is starting to become irreversible. The IPCC’s predictions, laid down in its 2018 special report, tell us that even if we could keep the temperature increase within 1.5°C (best-case scenario) we would still see a further decline of coral reefs by 70-90%, an Arctic for the first time ice-free by 2100, a rise of seas level between 26 and 77 centimeters, a 9% decrease in wheat harvests, a lowering of about 1.5 million tonnes of fish caught (with a growing world population), a further increase in extreme weather events and a 9% decrease in fresh water just in the Mediterranean [11]. The increase of 1.5°C is estimated to take place between 2030 and 2050. To achieve this “optimal” scenario we should start from 2020 to cut global emissions so to place ourselves on the trend depicted in graph (b), which represents a 45% reduction of the CO2 levels emitted globally by 2030 (compared to those of 2010) and zero emissions by 2055 (gray line). However, the cumulative figure for greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase for a few decades (c) and (d). This is because we have triggered natural mechanisms that cannot be turned off with a switch (if you are going at 200 mi/h and you start breaking you will still make several feet more from the point where you pulled the break).

IPCC Summary for policymakers 2018 Special Report, SPM.1

The criticism

It is terrifying to think that those measures needed to put the world on the trend shown in graph (b) have not yet been undertaken and nothing seems to indicate that they will be in the next months. In contrast, political leaders willing to free-ride on others’ commitments abound in rich countries (USA, Russia, UK, etc). Not to mention those in developing countries like Brasil where we recently assisted to a deforestation revival in the Amazon [12], or Poland, where political leaders have no intention of replacing coal as the country’s main energy source, or China, the incarnation of energy ambiguity with a government that declares waging war on pollution but at the same time (a bit out of necessity, a bit out of interest) finances coal power stations abroad and holds the majority share in the most polluting company in the world [13] [14].

Below you can look at a map elaborated by three international institutes that depicts the degree of efficiency of the combined climate-related policies by country.

Counries’ efforts to achieve the Paris agreement targets. Picture obtained from the collaboration of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and NewClimate Institute.

This political landscape is probably one of the factors that pushes more and more researchers to disagree with the IPCC forecasts, labelling them as too optimistic. The skeptical front is quite broad, I will here mention some of the most prominent figures: Peter Wadhams, one of the most famous glaciologists in the world, Jem Bendell, professor at Cumbria University (UK), Mayer Hillman, a scientist who dedicated his life to sustainable transport, Stuart Scott, founder and president of Transition University (USA), Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, James Hansen Former Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute. What is being reproached to the IPCC are basically three points: 1) underestimate the impact of methane released into the atmosphere as a result of the permafrost thrusting, 2) considering the effects of climate change as linear and not exponential and 3) putting in the equation geoengineering technologies to extract CO2 in a scale currently not available. Wadhamas, for example, predicts an ice-free September in the Arctic already in the imminent future and a rise of the seas between 1 and 2 meters before the end of the century [15]. Professor Bendell, after a sabbatical year dedicated to research, wrote a paper entitled “Deep Adaptation” (rejected by the scientific journal to which he submitted it due to its harsh language). In the paper, Bendell writes that it does no longer make sense to do research on sustainable development, field to which he dedicated his life, because the 1.5°C and also the 2°C targets will be extensively exceeded by the next twenty years and all efforts should now turn to understanding how to adapt to a scenario of civilization collapse.

Data obtained from Corinne Le Quéré et al. (to compare with graph (b) above)

Save what can still be saved

The fact that people who have dedicated their lives to studying and research are so alarmist surely gets one thinking. Of course, the most respected body on climate change is and remains the IPCC. However, it must be acknowledged that the panel only reports forecasts widely accepted by the scientific community at the international level, and therefore these are necessarily conservative. This article aims at encouraging the reader first of all to document himself, by now there is an amount of bibliography, articles and documentaries on the subject (in all languages) that anyone can have a sound idea of the phenomenon. Secondly, I hope this piece of writing has transmitted the urgency of a global response. In democracy this can only come from a strong popular pressure towards governments, for this it is necessary to participate in movements like that of Fridays for Future, or at least to support organizations deployed for environmental protection. Individual actions are certainly important, but investments in the fashion of the Marshall plan are needed if we want to put ourselves on the trend outlined in graph (b) of the IPCC (above). For those wishing to explore the type of investments required, I recommend taking a look at the Drawdawn project (there is also a Ted talk by Chad Frischmann translated into 19 languages). In order for this change of gear to take place, you need to vote more carefully, inform the sceptics and hit the streets. 

Giovanni Sgaravatti




[2] ;







[8b] Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the work of its seventh session (May 2019)





[13] ;



[Picture in Cover by Nick Cobbing, Greenpeace]

[Global Carbon emission picture from:]


Are Electric Vehicles Beneficial Over Internal Combustion Vehicles?

In recent years the sales of electric vehicles have been rising exponentially. This has caused various car manufactures to reconsider their vehicle lines from internal combustion to the development of electric vehicles. The development of electric vehicle batteries, motors and motor control technologies can be seen in big manufactures such as BMW, Mercedes and VW. The main player who kicked off the electric vehicle race is Tesla who have expanded into developing their own battery technologies. Furthermore, non-traditional vehicle companies such a Dyson have joined in developing their own electric vehicle. This asks the question why are electric vehicles better? The following points out the main reasons. 

Image result for electric vehicle





1. Air Quality and Emissions of Electric Vehicles

In 2040 the UK government has decided to ban the sale of combustion vehicles. This is in line with the UKs clean air initiatives. The main reasons behind the ban is that combustion vehicles pollute the air around them, especially in dense cities. Air pollution has been proven to be linked to various respiratory issues in people, with higher levels of asthma in cities with air quality problems linked to traffic pollution. 

Electric cars produce no emissions directly, therefore the immediate environment they function in will remain pollutant free. This will provide health benefits to resident’s whole live near busy streets.

Image result for air quality electric vehicles


2. Instant Torque

One of the best notable performance characteristics by electric vehicle enthusiasts is that electric cars provides instant torque throughout the RPM range meaning that electric vehicles do not require a traditional transmission. This allows electric vehicles to accelerate much faster than combustion cars.  See the video demonstrating the level of acceleration the new tesla roadster contains.


3. Regenerative Braking 

Electric vehicles can regenerate the energy that is used as kinetic energy when the car is moving. In traditional combustion braking systems, the vehicle is slowed using friction breaking this waste valuable energy as heat. Electric Vehicles can brake using the electric motor and regenerate the energy into the battery pack of the car. This allows a more efficient journey as the braking energy will be used again for driving the car again. 

Video demonstration:

4. Electric Vehicles Efficiency 

Image result for electric vehicle efficiency

Electric motors are highly efficient at converting electrical energy to rotational kinetic energy at approximately 90% to which internal combustion vehicles have efficiencies around 30%. This means that electric vehicles have lower energy costs and have less energy demands for similar usage. Electric cars would have a lower carbon footprint per mile comparison to combustion vehicles. 

However! Also with Electric Vehicles, it’s not all smooth driving!

Electric cars will have some disadvantages comparted to internal combustion. Many of these issues are surrounded around the battery pack contained in the vehicle. 

1. How to charge Electric vehicles? 

Typically, people will charge their car on their driveways with their residential electrical supply. The main concern with people is that they will run out of charge, or it takes too long. This is because people are too used to filling up at petrol stations within 15 minutes.

However, this isn’t the case with electric cars, this requires a behavioural change. This could be in a similar manner to which people charge their smartphones, such as charging overnight or plugging in as soon as you get home. If a long journey is needed some planning should be done at which place you should stop and charge the car. Newer electric cars can be charged to 80% within 45mins with a 100KW charger. 

The main issue is for electric vehicles owners without a driveway or a local charging point. Considerations of charging availability for each electric vehicles buyer must undertake before purchasing an electric vehicle. It must be noted that thousands of charging points are added each year, increasing availability could make it possible for electric vehicles owners without a driveway.

Image result for eV charging




2. Li-ion Battery packs in Electric Vehicles have a limited number of charge cycles.

Image result for eV battery pack

Most Smartphone users have felt the health of their batteries decrease. This is a similar case with electric cars. The driver will need to monitor the state of health of their battery pack to get an accurate range. At the end of the battery pack life the cells within the pack are no longer good enough for electric vehicles but can be re-used in second life applications such as energy storage. 

3. The Electricity Grid.

Currently the electricity grid cannot cope with all the homes in the UK charging their electric vehicle. This problem has been worked on by national grid and current plans say that electricity costs will change depending on when you charge your electric car, peak times will be charged at a higher price. Secondly the environmental benefits that electric cars provide can be removed when the electrical supply is generated in through coal or gas generation. For a smaller carbon footprint, it must be ensured that renewable sources are a large percentage of the energy mix that is used to charge the vehicle. See below for the current energy mix in the UK. 







In conclusion the benefits electric cars provide are highly beneficial to the environment and the users of the vehicle in comparison to internal combustion. The combustion engine in mainstream vehicle applications will be obsolete. The electric vehicle revolution is near, are you ready? 


Hitendra Pandya

Emergencia climática y activismo global

La necesidad de actuar

Cualquiera que se haya tomado el tiempo de informarse y que sea intelectualmente honesto habrá notado cómo nuestra civilización galopa contra una pared. Ahora es inútil caminar en círculos: los efectos de la actividad humana en el medio ambiente son inequívocos y están bajo la mirada de todos. Para darme una idea general del fenómeno y el momento histórico en el que vivimos, decidí escribir este artículo. En la primera parte enumero una serie de datos incontrovertibles que describen la situación actual (e invito calurosamente a los más escépticos a verificar las fuentes). En la segunda parte, hago una breve consideración sobre la peculiaridad del problema. Después, presento los pronósticos del órgano más eminente sobre el tema: el panel intergubernamental sobre cambio climático (IPCC). Seguidamente, reporto algunas críticas dirigidas al IPCC, acusado por una porción de la comunidad científica de ser demasiado conservador en sus estimaciones. Finalmente, concluyo con referencias a grupos de trabajo e iniciativas para salvar lo que se puede salvar.

La situación hoy

Con el 2018 hemos dejado atrás el cuarto año más caluroso de la historia (desde el inicio de las mediciones), con 17 de los 18 años más calurosos en el nuevo milenio [1a] [1b]. La razón por la cual el Ártico continúa perdiendo un volumen de hielo a una tasa de aproximadamente 13% por década, siguiendo una tendencia creciente (se estima que entre 1975 y 2010 la pérdida de hielo es entre 55 y 65%, y en los últimos nueve años estos porcentajes han aumentado) [2]. Mientras tanto, los mares ya han crecido 80 mm desde 1993 [3] y se empieza a observar el impacto que tendrá el aumento de los océanos en la superficie total de las tierras emergidas (ver Florida, o las 5 islas en el medio del Pacífico eliminadas de mapas geográficos) [4]; [5]. Además de la inhabitabilidad de algunas áreas costeras, el cambio climático aumenta los episodios de sequía e inundaciones, por lo que los migrantes causados ​​por el calentamiento global continúan aumentando y las Naciones Unidas estiman que podrían alcanzar hasta mil millones antes del 2050 [6]. Mientras tanto, el permafrost en Siberia y Alaska comenzó a derretirse, liberando metano y probablemente desencadenando un mecanismo que no se puede detener [7]. Como si esto fuera poco, la contaminación y la sobreproducción económica están amplificando los efectos del cambio climático, dañando gravemente la biodiversidad del planeta. En 2016, el WWF declaró que estamos en medio de la sexta extinción masiva en la historia de la Tierra, con una pérdida del 58% de la fauna mundial entre 1970 y 2012 [8a], con una tasa de extinción animal que continúa aumentando (por ahora es entre 10 y 100 veces el promedio de los últimos 10 millones de años) [8b]. Lamentablemente, la lista todavía es larga: desde la acidificación de los océanos con la consiguiente aniquilación de ecosistemas enteros (ver arrecifes de coral), hasta ballenas muertas por indigestión plástica, incendios cada vez más frecuentes y más extensos, torbellinos y huracanes que aumentan de intensidad para la mayor energía presente en el aire, el derretimiento de los glaciares, etc. [9]; [10]; [11].

WWF 2016 Living Planet Report. El color intenso indica escasez absoluta de agua, el medio indica escasez de agua y el verde el estrés hídrico.

La reacción

El principal problema a la hora de abordar el cambio climático es la discrepancia entre su naturaleza global y la forma organizativa del hombre en múltiples estados. Además, las primeras señales de los efectos del cambio climático han sido localizados, causando mayores daños en los países más pobres. Esto ha contribuido a aumentar la sensación de que el cambio climático es sólo otro flagelo del hemisferio sur, y que nosotros en Occidente (los únicos líderes posibles de una concertación internacional atenta a la equidad energética) no nos veríamos muy afectados al final. Recientemente, sin embargo, los efectos se han empezado a sentir más fuerte y frecuente, ayudando a una sensibilización general tan tardía como indispensable. 

Perspectivas según el IPCC

Si bien el tiempo a nuestra disposición se está reduciendo sin cesar, sin preocuparse por los largos retrasos para la coordinación internacional, la temperatura del planeta ya ha aumentado a un grado y el daño comienza a volverse irreversible. Los pronósticos del IPCC nos dicen que incluso si pudiéramos mantener el aumento de la temperatura dentro de 1,5°C (hipótesis más favorable), en cualquier caso, se produciría un nuevo descenso de las barreras de los arrecifes de coral del 70-90%, un Ártico por primera vez sin hielo para el año 2100, un aumento de los mares entre 26 y 77 centímetros, una disminución del 9% en las cosechas de trigo, cerca de 1,5 millones de toneladas de pescado menos capturadas (con una población mundial en aumento), un aumento adicional de los fenómenos climáticos extremos y una reducción de las emisiones de CO2, disminución del 9% del agua dulce en el Mediterráneo[11]. Se estima que el aumento a 1,5°C se producirá entre 2030 y 2050. Para lograr este escenario “óptimo”, deberíamos empezar a partir de 2020 a reducir las emisiones globales de manera que nos situemos en la tendencia mostrada en el gráfico (b) abajo, donde se representa una reducción del 45% ya para el 2030 y tener cero emisiones para el 2055 (línea gris). Sin embargo, la cifra acumulada de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero continuará aumentando durante algunas décadas (c) y (d). Esto se debe a que hemos activado mecanismos naturales que no se pueden desconectar con un interruptor (si va a 200 km / h y comienza a frenar, seguirás haciendo varios metros más de carretera que el punto del inicio de la frenada).

IPCC Summary for policymakers 2018 Special Report, SPM.1


Es aterrador pensar que la forma de situarse en la tendencia representada en el gráfico (b) no se ha emprendido y no hay nada que sugiera que será en los próximos cuatro meses. En contraste, en las principales potencias mundiales abundan gobernantes escépticos al clima como en Rusia, Estados Unidos y Japón. Sin mencionar el Brasil, donde hemos recientemente observado una reanudación de la deforestación en la Amazonía [12], Polonia, cuyos líderes políticos no tienen intención de sustituir el carbón como principal fuente de energía de Polonia, ni China, que declara guerra contra el cambio climático, pero al mismo tiempo (en parte por necesidad, en parte por interés) financia centrales eléctricas de carbón en el extranjero y tiene una participación mayoritaria en la empresa más contaminante del mundo[13][14].

Global Carbon Budget 2018, Corinne Le Quéré et al. (para comparar con el gráfico (b) arriba)

Este panorama político es probablemente uno de los factores que impulsan cada vez más a los investigadores a estar en desacuerdo con los Pronósticos del IPCC, y etiquetándolos como demasiado optimistas. El frente de los escépticos es muy amplio, así que menciono sólo las figuras prominentes: Peter Wadhams, uno de los glaciólogos más conocidos del mundo, Jem Bendell, profesor de la Universidad de Cumbria (Reino Unido), Mayer Hillman, científico que dedicó su vida al transporte Sostenible y al medio ambiente, Stuart Scott, fundador y presidente de Transition University (EE.UU.), Guy McPherson, Profesor Emérito de la Universidad de Arizona, James Hansen Ex Director del Instituto Goddard de la NASA.

Lo que se le reprocha al IPCC son básicamente tres puntos: 1) subestimar el impacto de metano liberado a la atmósfera como resultado de la disolución del permafrost, 2) considerar los efectos del cambio climático como lineal y no exponencial y 3) incluir en la ecuación las tecnologías de geoingeniería para extraer CO2 de la atmósfera en una escala actualmente inexistente. Wadhamas, por ejemplo, predice un septiembre sin hielo en el Ártico ya en un futuro próximo y un aumento en los mares entre 1 y 2 metros antes del final del siglo [15]. El profesor Bendell, después de un año sabático dedicado a la investigación, escribió un artículo titulado “Deep Adaptation” (rechazado por la revista científica que lo había enviado, porque el lenguaje era demasiado fuerte). En el periódico, Bendell escribe que ya no tiene sentido investigar sobre el desarrollo sostenible, un ámbito al que ha dedicado su vida, ya que el objetivo de 1,5°C y también el de 2°C serán ampliamente violados por los próximos 20 años y ahora deben hacerse todos los esfuerzos posibles para entender cómo adaptarse a un escenario de civilización posterior al colapso

Guardar lo que se puede guardar

El hecho de que las personas que han dedicado su vida al estudio y a la investigación sean tan alarmistas seguramente hace pensar. Por supuesto, el organismo más autorizado en materia de cambio climático es y sigue siendo el IPCC. Sin embargo, debemos reconocer que el panel sólo contiene previsiones que gozan de un amplio consenso en la comunidad científica a nivel internacional, así que tienen que ser conservadoras. Este artículo quiere invitar a los lectores, a que se informen, ahora hay una gran cantidad de bibliografía, artículos y documentales sobre el tema (en todos los idiomas) que permiten que cualquiera se haga una idea. En segundo lugar, me gustaría dejar claro la urgencia de una respuesta global; en una democracia esto sólo puede provenir de una fuerte presión popular sobre los gobiernos, por lo que hay que participar en movimientos como el de los Fridays for Future, o al menos apoyar a las organizaciones desplegadas para la protección del medio ambiente. Las acciones individuales son ciertamente importantes, pero se necesita inversiones al estilo del plan Marshall para ponernos en el camino correcto, tendencia descrita en el gráfico (b) del IPCC (arriba). Para los que quieren explorar más sobre el tipo de inversiones les sugiero que revisen el proyecto Drawdawn (también hay una charla de TED por Chad Frischmann traducida a 19 idiomas). Para que se produzca este cambio de marcha, es necesario votar con más prudencia, informar a los escépticos y salir a la calle, de lo contrario, estamos condenados.

Giovanni Sgaravatti

Featured image: Counries’ efforts to achieve the Paris agreement targets. Picture obtained from the collaboration of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and NewClimate Institute.




[2] ;






[8b] Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the work of its seventh session (Maggio 2019)




[13] ;



[Global Carbon emission picture from:]

Perchè le auto elettriche sono meglio

La vendita di auto elettriche negli ultimi anni sono cresciute esponenzialmente, questo ha portato le case automobilistiche a riconsiderare la propria produzione spostandola sempre di più verso questo tipo di auto. Lo sviluppo di batterie, motori e sistemi di controllo del motore per auto elettriche è già considerevolmente presente in colossi dell’automotive quali BMW, Mercedes e Volkswagen. Il ruolo di protagonista in questa rivoluzione però ce l’ha sicuramente Tesla, che ha fatto da pioniere nella sfida dell’auto elettrica e è cresciuta grazie allo sviluppo di una propria tecnologia per le batterie. Oltre a queste, anche aziende che nulla hanno tradizionalmente a che vedere con la produzione di auto, quali ad esempio la britannica Dyson, si stanno ora cimentando nello sviluppo di veicoli elettrici. Perchè tutta questo interesse da parte di queste aziende verso le auto elettriche? Sono davvero meglio? Qui sotto cerchiamo di spiegare le ragioni principali.

Image result for electric vehicle
  1. Qualità dell’aria e emissioni delle auto elettriche

Il parlamento britannico, in linea con le sue politiche ambientali, ha deciso di proibire entro il 2040 la vendita di auto con motori a combustione. Le principali ragioni dietro a questa decisione è l’inquinamento di questo tipo di auto, soprattutto nelle grandi città. E’ stato infatti accertato che l’inquinamento dell’aria è collegato a varie tipologie di problemi respiratori nella popolazione, i livelli di asma più alti sono stati riscontrati nelle città con qualità dell’aria peggiore dovuta al traffico.

Le auto elettriche invece non producono direttamente emissioni, pertanto l’ambiente nel quale si trovano non viene intaccato dal loro funzionamento e ciò comporterà un miglioramento della salute di coloro che vivono nei pressi di strade con alto traffico.

Image result for air quality electric vehicles

2. Coppia subito disponibile!

Una delle caratteristiche più brillanti delle performance di un’auto elettrica è certamente il fatto che il motore è sempre in coppia indipendentemente da quali siano i giri del motore in un determinato momento. Per i più tecnici , questo implica che i veicoli elettrici non richiedono un sistema di trasmissione tradizionale. Di fatto, ciò permette a queste auto di accelerare molto più velocemente rispetto alle auto a combustione interna. Per capirne meglio gli effetti concreti, vedere il breve video qui sotto che mostra il livello di accelerazione della nuova Tesla roadster.

3. Frenatura a recupero energetico

Le auto elettriche possono generare energia che è usata come energia cinetica quando l’auto si sta muovendo. Nelle auto a combustione tradizionali, l’energia prodotta durante la frenata è sprecata producendo calore, in queste auto invece la frenata avviene grazie al motore elettrico e l’energia viene rigenerata portandola nella batteria dell’auto. Ciò consente un viaggio con maggiore efficienza energetica visto che l’energia usata durante la frenata verrà poi riutilizzata durante la guida.

4. Efficienza delle auto elettriche

Image result for electric vehicle efficiency

I motori elettrici sono altamente efficienti nel convertire energia elettrica in energia cinetica rotazionale riuscendo a trasformare in movimento circa il 90% dell’energia, quando invece l’efficienza delle auto tradizionali invece è del 30%. Questo significa che i veicoli elettrici hanno un minore impatto nelle emissione di anidride carbonica per chilometro rispetto alle auto a combustione interna.

Ma attenzione! Non ci sono solo i pro!

Anche i veicoli elettrici hanno i loro contro rispetto alle auto con motori a combustione. Il principale dei contro riguarda la batteria all’interno del veicolo.

  1. Come si ricaricano le auto elettriche?

Generalmente, chi ha un’auto elettrica la ricarica in casa prima di partire. La preoccupazione principale è dunque quella di rimanere senza ricarica energetica lungo il tragitto o che ci voglia troppo tempo rispetto a un tradizionale rifornimento di carburante. Questo dunque richiede un cambiamento delle proprie abitudini, l’utilizzatore probabilmente deve infatti imparare a ricaricare l’auto in modo simile a come avviene per il proprio smartphone, ricaricando durante la notte o al proprio ritorno a casa. In caso di lunghi viaggi, occorrerà pianificare con attenzione le soste per la ricarica individuando i luoghi idonei lungo il percorso. I modelli più recenti di auto elettriche possono essere ricaricati fino all’80% in 45 minuti con un caricatore da 100kW. Il problema principale riguarda dunque coloro che hanno un’auto elettrica ma non hanno modo di ricaricarla in casa o in altro luogo. Prima di acquistare un’auto di questo tipo occorre quindi considerare la disponibilità di tali punti di ricarica. Va tuttavia sottolineato che migliaia di punti di ricarica stanno venendo aggiunti ogni anno e che l’aumento del numero di questi punti potrebbe agevolare la vita dei possessori di auto elettriche così come il loro acquisto.

Image result for eV charging

2. La batteria agli ioni di Litio ha un numero limitato ricariche

Image result for eV battery pack

Come si può spesso notare con gli smartphone, la durata della batteria dopo un po’ diminuisce. Questo avviene anche con le batterie delle auto elettriche: il guidatore dovrà monitorare lo stato di salute della batteria. Alla fine del ciclo di vita della batteria, le sue celle non possono più essere utilizzate per un veicolo elettrico ma possono essere comunque destinate ad altri scopi come ad esempio l’immagazzinamento di energia.

3. La rete elettrica

L’attuale rete elettrica non riesce a far fronte ad un’ipotetica ricarica da parte di tutte le case. I gestori delle varie reti nazionali sono al lavoro su questo problema e gli attuali piani dicono che il costo dell’energia potrebbe variare a seconda del momento in cui viene ricaricata l’auto poichè i momenti di picco saranno quelli in cui il costo dell’energia sarà maggiore. In secondo luogo, i benefici per l’ambiente forniti dall’auto elettrica vengono in parte vanificati quando l’energia per ricaricarla proviene da fonti quali carbone o gas: per un vero impatto nella riduzione dell’emissione di anidride carbonica, occorre che la percentuale di energia utilizzata per la ricarica provenga quindi da fonti rinnovabili. Qui sotto, il grafico mostra il mix energetico in UK.

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In conclusione, le auto elettriche permettono benefici per l’ambiente e per gli utenti che sono di gran lunga maggiori rispetto ai veicoli a combustione interna e pertanto i motori di questi saranno presto obsoleti nella gran parte delle applicazioni per i veicoli.

La rivoluzione dei veicoli elettrici è vicina. Tu sei pronto?

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Hitendra Pandya

tradotto in italiano da Filippo Paggiarin


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