High-energy physics today confirms the intuition of the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, who lived some six centuries before Christ in Ephesus, on the coast of present-day Turkey. Panta rei, everything flows, everything is in motion. The only new thing now is that the speed of events is astonishing. Reality is accelerating to the point that the Anthropocene, our epoch, is defined by the modification of all characteristics of the earth’s environment. A change mainly due to us, to homo sapiens.
Among the first effects of the Anthropocene is the overheating of the Earth due to greenhouse gases that block the cycle triggered by millions of years of sunlight, particularly carbon dioxide and methane. According to NASA, the average temperature of the planet in 2020 was 1.02 degrees higher than between 1950-1980. It sounds little, but this extra degree causes glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise, triggering extreme and uncontrollable phenomena, such as hurricanes, floods, fires, and the desertification of vast areas of the planet.
Historically, it all began with man-made gas emissions from the Industrial Revolution, which changed energy production forever. Energy is in fact at the heart of life as we know it and the lifestyle in which we live. To try and remedy this, many so-called ‘advanced’ countries signed an agreement in December 2015 at the COP21 in Paris, setting the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels, by the end of the 21st century. Six years later, at Cop26 in Glasgow, the commitment was to achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2050. A difficult goal, not only in itself but also due to the scepticism of many countries, for whom this would compromise their idea of “development”. A new way of producing energy is what they would really like, to put an end to “development”.
To achieve carbon neutrality, we have to abandon many ideas on which we have built our lives and rely on the main tool that is energy transition.
In short, we are in the midst of an urgent energy transition, something epochal, but not unprecedented in human history. Previous ones, from coal to oil and from wood to coal, occurred in the 19th century and were real revolutions. However, what characterises the current transition is the urgency and then the awareness. Today we must rush to find solutions because we know that we are facing the greatest threat the Earth has faced to date. And this threat is us, our lifestyle, and our idea of the future.
This issue of DomusAir is dedicated to these two themes. The awareness of what we have to do and the solutions we are preparing to use. We are still talking about infrastructure, however we are talking about cognitive infrastructure before physical and digital infrastructure. Because beyond personal and individual beliefs, one thing is certain. To achieve carbon neutrality, we have to abandon many ideas on which we have built our lives and rely on the main tool that is energy transition. The transition from a fossil fuel-centred energy mix to a low or zero carbon one, based on renewables. A drive that is not limited to the gradual closure of coal-fired power stations for the development of clean energy but is, first and foremost, about an inner paradigm shift that affects the entire system.
Will we be able to do this? No one knows because there is much resistance. DomusAir however tries to do its part. Sharing what is happening and trying to analyse the results.