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The relationship between climate change and the human community–Listen to the opinions of scientists
Time: 2020-11-03
Source: World Laureates Forum
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On November 1, the third day of the 3rd World Laureates Forum, the Climate Summit with the theme “What Next? Climate Change and the Fate of Humanity” came under the spotlight. 

The climate issue has always been an important topic of common concern for all mankind. Both the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer adopted in 1987 and the Paris Agreement signed in 2016 embody the determination of mankind to jointly tackle global climate issues. Therefore, the WLF invited five scientists in this Climate Summit to interpret the relationship between mankind and nature from multiple angles, and plan for the future of mankind with a better climate and bluer sky.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说


世界顶尖科学家气候峰会  图|WLF独家

WLF Climate Summit Photo provided by WLF

The participating scientists include David Gross, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, Simon Asher Levin, winner of 2005 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences, Graham Farquhar, winner of 2017 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences, David Zilberman, winner of 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture, Peng Gong, dean of School of Sciences, Tsinghua University and director of Department of Earth System Science.

In his speech, David Gross demonstrated a strong sense of social responsibility as a scientist. While affirming the rapid development of science, David Gross also frankly pointed out three crises facing mankind, and climate change is just one of them. “What can science do to tackle these crises? Solutions are actually quite simple. Speaking of science, we have the answers to all problems, but the ultimate problem is not about science or technology, but about how we use it.”

David Gross emphasized that when mankind exists as a community with a shared future, scientists need to advocate national cooperation based on mutual cooperation and coordination, rather than unhealthy competition led by national and political interests. And this is also the significance of the World Laureates Association. 

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

David Gross participates in the 3rd World Laureates Forum

Photo provided by WLF

Simon Asher Levin identifies the difficulty in human cooperation to address climate change. The scientific community has already reached a firm consensus on climate change and its impact on the environment. But we have not taken the necessary measures to solve the problems. This is not because we do not know how to act scientifically, but as the people and governments fail to unite for the sake of the common well-being. This is the biggest challenge facing us.”

Simon Asher Levin reminded us that if we discount our efforts for climate change because of our interests, the future of mankind will also be discounted as a result. Although there are significant differences between individuals or countries, we can only better cooperate and have a brighter future when we are aware of the fact that mankind is a community with a shared future.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

Simon Asher Levin Photo provided by WLF

Graham Farquhar is a plant physiologist who has been concerned about climate change since the 1970s. Graham Farquhar further explained some climate change prediction models, especially rainfall prediction models, because rainfall is very critical for agriculture. “The most important thing is to realize that global warming does not happen in one day, like the scorching sun.” He used this vivid metaphor to remind everyone that global warming occurs over a long time, and has a gradual impact on human life. In the future, many regions will face the uncertainty of rainfall. For agricultural producers and market operators, the ability to adapt quickly will become particularly important.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

Graham Farquhar Photo provided by ANU Research School of Biology

From his professional perspective, David Zilberman shared the impact of climate change on agriculture and related countermeasures. The direct impact of climate change on agriculture can be summarized in the following categories: regional agricultural crises caused by climate migration, the impact of extreme weather caused by melting glaciers on agricultural productivity, and the disturbance of the stability of the agricultural production chain caused by sudden climate events.

So, how to solve these problems? David Zilberman gives top priority to innovation, talent and trade flexibility for future development, and considers the possibility of regional migration from the perspectives of science, society, and politics. Currently, David Zilberman is working on the “Climate Smart Agriculture” project, in the hope of proposing new economic solutions for developing countries.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

David Zilberman in the 2nd World Laureates Forum     Photo provided by WLF 

Peng Gong regarded human health and the health of the earth system as one, and proposed that everyone can and should protect the earth. Scientists, individuals or commercial communities can promote climate to change towards a better direction through corresponding measures. In addition, he shared a climate change report published in The Lancet in his speech, which clarifies the angles and measures of countries and individuals in addressing climate change. At the end of his speech, Peng Gong pointed out the next two major challenges facing us: What is the compound effect of multiple environmental changes on human health? How to use computational data and quantitative tools to measure the impact so as to assist developing countries in environmental decision-making?

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

Peng Gong Photo provided by Tsinghua University

Echoing the views of Simon Asher Levin, David Gross raised the questions in Panel Discussion: As scientists, what should we do? With so many solutions that are known but not decided, or that should have been implemented, what can we scientists do?

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

David Gross in the 2nd World Laureates Forum Photo provided by WLF

Simon Asher Levin supplemented his point of view in the discussion: The cooperative relationship between scientists, industry and government can greatly enhance the application of scientific programs. The power of some cutting-edge companies in the industry cannot be ignored. We may be able to eventually apply the solutions to a larger area through the implementation of some pilot projects.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

Simon Asher Levin Photo provided by The Levin Lab

Graham Farquhar took his own experience of participating in government-led activities to address climate change as an example to illustrate that when the appeal of environmentalists conflicts with part of the public interest, the conflicts may be resolved if the two parties can have a dialogue based on scientific understanding. If scientists can better incorporate science into social issues apart from reporting scientific facts, and truly enhance the authority of science, better communications will be achieved.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

Graham Farquhar Photo provided by The Australian

Peng Gong shared China’s experience with other scientists: It may be difficult for researchers to directly communicate with the public through institutions, but the role of media and even news media in universities should be highlighted. In China, enhancing the awareness of earth protection through gradual public education with the help of media has a significant role in arousing public awareness. However, the limitation is that the public does not fully understand the root cause of “why,” which may affect the implementation of specific measures to a certain extent.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

Peng Gong Photo provided by Tsinghua University

David Zilberman also gave his own suggestions on scientific communication: to present the data on the impact of climate change on the economy and society more specifically and present it to the public, so that they can see the actual influence of climate change on their interests, thereby urging the public to change their behaviors.

气候变化和人类共同体的关系?听听科学家们怎么说

David Zilberman, winner of 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture gave a speech. Photo provided by Kankannews

At the end of the Panel Discussion, the scientists said that they were looking forward to the World Laureates Forum next year, in order to share research results and exchange views face to face. The WLF will uphold its original aspiration, pool the wisdom of more scientists, and effectively promote the progress and development of mankind.