Home » Comment and analysis » Franco Maranzana: Some comments and ideas on the subject of Geoethics.

Franco Maranzana: Some comments and ideas on the subject of Geoethics.

Based on sound science practice , Geoethics  has the objective to improve human behaviour on three main issues: two of them facing natural events such as climate changes (1), natural disasters (2), and the third concerning human activities.

1). By far the most important. We are not experiencing climatic changes for the first time. The Earth has witnessed many periodic cycles of dramatic change in temperatures as shown in figure 1.


Figure 1. Schematic Representation of the last eight Glaciations and relative Interglacials, with the introduction of the Global Cooling (GC) and the Global Warming (GW) inclined lines

The colder periods are known in geological sciences as GLACIATIONS, a term also familiar  to the layman, while the warmer periods are called by geologists INTERGLACIALS, certainly more of a professional jargon. The wording “Global Warming” (GW) came about as an usage frequently mentioned  mainly in the last two decades. Although in principle we should use only the terms Glaciations and Interglacials, in effect we can extend the concept of global warming starting at very moment when at the end of the cold period the trend changes towards warmer temperatures, even those occurring much later. By the same token we should also introduce “Global Cooling” (GC), starting at the high of a particular Interglacial and directing towards cooler temperatures, as  sketched in the figure. The extension of the concepts of global warming and the relative global cooling to all the five last glaciations, may indeed constitute a novelty.

We are now in the latest interglacial and “Global Warming”, as defined  above, started at the  lower peak of the last glaciations, say 22-25 thousand years ago reaching a peak of warmer temperature some 8,000 years ago. This was the time  when human beings began to thrive spreading agricultural techniques and human settlements with the birth of the great civilizations we all known. One question is then legitimate: how mankind could be responsible for global warming when this  event started more than 20,000 years ago, when mankind has no power at all?. We do not know how long the global warmth will continue, for  a short or a longer period. In any case it is likely that the trend will eventually change to “Global Cooling”.

Figures 2 & 3 are taken from the literature. One concerning the fluctuations of temperature  during the last 9,000 years and


Figure 2. GISP2 Ice core showing temperature change over the last 9000 years.

the other  concerning the period of the last 1,000 years.  We are familiar with the famous “Hockey stick” where the medieval  warm period as well as the ‘little ice age’ was missing.


Figure 3. Comparison of differing interpretations of climatic change over the last 1000 years. A) After Huber Lamb. b) Michael Mann ‘Hockey Stick’

These curves are usually represented along an horizontal line while such  fluctuation should be superimposed to the trends either going up or going down. As a matter of fact even the oscillations of Glaciations and Interglacials should not necessarily drawn over an horizontal line, which represents nothing else that  an arbitrary convenient  tool for drawing rather  than depicting a possible reality.  Our geometry and mathematics may not be the one of nature,  which can imaginatively use not a vertical line and a horizontal to show how things change.

We should be aware of many other aspects in the subject of Climate Change, and  the vast research on various subjects such as :

The proven influence of the power of the Sun and the variations in surface irradiance, creating colossal effects in past climatic variations.

Temperature data series at various latitudes show that the variations of carbon dioxide lag behind those of temperature.

The influence of the oceans and of the clouds.

The composition of the greenhouse gases where water vapour is the major constituent. Carbon dioxide  is a minor component and the amount produced by mankind is negligible in respect to that produced by nature.

CO2 is not a pollutant but an essential trace gas for life.

This contribution does not have the aim of describing all the work performed in the last 20 years on the subject of climate. However, one observation could be made on the young age of climatology which cannot take the scientific burden of  making final decisions on such an important issue which needs the participation ad collaboration of all the sciences related to subject of climatic changes.

In the end, it appears rather evident that mankind is not responsible for such cyclic natural events where the main and powerful actors are the Sun, space, oceans and even our Earth, which could certainly have a role as the geothermal energy emitted by the Earth is also variable. The so called “Anthropogenic Global Warming” (AGW) is creating an immense market selling “hot air” via storing CO2 and exchanging quotas of CO2 produced in industrial plants; REMEMBERING that CO2 is not a pollutant but on the contrary an essential component or our wellbeing. Governments confronted with such high costs, between 90 to 130 billion dollars a year, are neglecting to fight the real pollution produce by mankind and not by nature.

2).Natural disasters. Earthquakes in the first place. Ethical behavior is needed before, during and after the  disruptive event. Whilst prediction research can be certainly encouraged, because definite results  are pending for quite some time, at this stage only PREVENTION measures must be pursued to the maximum. Improving and simplifying building codes and techniques is mandatory. Budgets of Prevention and Civil Protection should be kept separate under a common centre.

The list of negative cases is very long.

Similar philosophy is applicable for volcanic events. GEOETHICS will make  efforts to support other organizations dealing with these events.

Measures need to be adopted on important aspects concerning the interaction of human activities and settlements  with  flooding, landslides with the objective of reaching a reasonable hydro-geological assessment.

3).Human activities. Industrial development of all sorts must have proper environmental protection and anti-pollution measures in place, as well as land reclamation in the case of mining and pollution control for chemical and other plants.

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