NEWS

The Earth is emitting distress signals

Hundreds of clean technologies for the production of energy have been developed over the last few years. Biomass, geothermal and photovoltaic units are already in use, while biofuels are gaining ground and rapidly catching on in Europe. The problem is that the world’s most powerful countries, though most responsible for atmospheric pollution, have not officially agreed to a reduction in greenhouse gases, in the region of 5 percent (Kyoto Protocol). Suffice it to say that compared to the 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 1990, 8 billion tons are discharged into the atmosphere today. The consequences are visible. In 2002, Europe suffered the worst flooding of the past 150 years. In Greece, September 2002 was the wettest since the National Observatory was built (1846), recording 218 millimeters of rainfall. There is no doubt that the planet is warming up. During the 20th century, it became hotter by 0.6 degrees (with the greatest change taking place within the past 15 years). Spring and summer were extended by 11 days in the northern hemisphere. Butterflies and insects that love warmth began to migrate to the north. Birds are also flying in earlier, no bad thing in itself but news on other fronts make for unpleasant shocks: The planet’s snows have been reduced by 10 percent. The ice pack has begun to melt. The sea level has risen by 10 centimeters. Rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere during the 21st century will push temperatures up by another 1.4 degrees (according to the worst-case scenario, by 5.8 degrees). The result will be a North Pole bare of ice, in summer at least, while many coastal regions will vanish from the map as the sea level rises.