Franco Prodi, a celebrated Italian atmospheric physicist and brother to former Italian Premier Romano Prodi, advises caution and humility when dealing with global warming, since we still know very little about the history of climate change and far less about its future.
“Change is what climate does,” said Prodi in an interview Friday in the Italian daily Il Messaggero, “and all our studies on the history of climate prove it. We can cite a myriad of factors.”
“Science,” he said, “still knows little about climate change.”
Prodi, a practicing Catholic, also has little patience for those who insist that man is the primary cause of climate change. “We must remember that the climate is naturally susceptible to mutations for a number of causes. The distance between the earth and the sun as well as the inclination of the earth’s axis as well as other variables of solar cycles all affect it,” he said.
It is important, Prodi urged, to base our work “on science and not on catastrophic forecasts.”
“I think that on an international level there has been insufficient calculation of how difficult it is to quantify the role of human activity in influencing the climate, and therefore also in predicting. This can lead to incorrect choices,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Prodi stated that “in the last 50 years the climate in Italy has changed very little” and that “we are not in a position to foresee future climate change.”
He has also stated that nations should be careful before entering into international climate agreements “based on the danger of climate change.”
Pollution, on the other hand, is clearly a human problem, said Prodi, and one that only humans can resolve. “The deterioration of the environment is measurable, and the results call for a change in direction,” he said.
In this, Prodi agrees with Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si’. “This is the thrust of the Pope’s appeal. He is reminding us that the earth’s environment is entrusted to man to be cared for and not to be exploited,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.