John Cabot University Hosts Climate Reality Project Director Mario Alverà

by Diedre Blake

Approximately seven billion people inhabit the planet earth today. At the same time, sixty thousand types of animals have become extinct.

These two statements were made by Mario Alverà, Italian Director of The Climate Reality Project – an NGO founded by Al Gore dealing with climate change – which Alverà presented to the JCU community on February 22nd. Facing an Aula Magna filled with enthusiastic students, he talked about the growing global climate crisis, and the three main factors compounding it – demographic explosion, technological innovation/industrial revolution, and our way of thinking.

Mr. Alverà looked at the six primary global warming pollutants carbon dioxide (43.1%), methane (26.7%), black carbon (11.9%), halocarbons (7.8%), carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (6.7%), and nitrous oxide (3.8%). Use of these pollutants is steadily increasing, partly due to human consumption through burning or driving fuel-based vehicles, but also through how livestock is treated. For example, cattle are often force-fed a diet of corn, which increases the animals’ production of methane.

The increase in use of these pollutants has seen a jump, beginning around the 1970s, in the earth’s temperature of approximately one degree Celsius. This may not seem like a significant change, said Alverà, until one considers that for centuries the earth’s temperature was consistently cooler. At the same time, the global population on earth has increased dramatically over the past century, and it is estimated that, by the end of the century, it will be at ten billion. This has created a decrease in our resources due to our consumption and the misperception that we will always have adequate resources, regardless of how we care for the planet.

Looking for positives among an overall gloomy outlook, Mr. Alverà presented examples of the ways in which nations are striving to ensure the existence of the planet for future generations. He discussed some of the initiatives being promoted by the European Union, including the increased production of electric cars, which aim to become 30% of the market by 2025, and the planned decrease of emissions by 50% over the next 15 years. Mr. Alverà also touched on the development and installation of wind farms and the use of solar panels as alternatives to present energy strategies

The presentation ended with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” Equally apropos is the following quote by Albert Einstein, “The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level as the level we created them at.” In other words, it is time for us to change our mindsets and our approach to how we see and treat the environment around us.