Categories
Ambiente Economia Italiano Politica rientrodolce Sviluppo

PIL e GPI: una critica

Guido Ferretti ha pubblicato sul sito di Rientrodolce una Sintesi della relazione di Mauro Bonaiuti al convegno di Rivoli (To) “Lo sviluppo e la decrescita” del 26 e 27 Maggio 2006

Mario Bonaiuti ha iniziato il suo intervento presentando un grafico in cui vengono giustapposti gli indici del PIL (Gross National Product) e GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) in funzione del tempo. In esso si vede che, mentre il PIL cresce, il GPI raggiunge un massimo in corrispondenza di un certo valore di PIL, per poi decrescere anche se il PIL continua ad aumentare. L’intera presentazione consisterà nella discussione di questo grafico. […]

Essendo quasi alla fine dei miei studi sullo Sviluppo al Birkbeck College di Londra, e ovviamente dubbioso dell’uso un po’ spregiudicato di un “nuovo” indicatore come il GPI, mi permetto di pubblicare qualche critica anche alle argomentazioni del Bonaiuti

1. ANDAMENTO: Non avendo visto il grafico del Bonaiuti,  sono andato al sito di Redefining Progress e ne ho trovato uno per gli Stati Uniti

GPI USA 1950-2002

Non ci sono tabulati di numeri, ma a colpo d’occhio si vede che il GPI cresce fra il 1950 e il 2002: non come il GDP, ma il trend generale in aumento e’ chiaro. Perche’ quindi ipotizzare un “ottimo PIL” oltre il quale il GPI decresce?

E’ da notare che l’analisi susseguente sulle economie in crescita come produttrici di entropia si basa soprattutto
su quel punto, ancora tutto da dimostrare

2. DEFINIZIONE: il GPI appare fortemente politicizzato. La negativita’ reale della Income Distribution e’ tutta da discutere. Si parla di Resource Depletion ma non si considerano effetti positivi come la riduzione degli aerosol. Nel Long-Term Environmental Damage si calcolano costi per il Riscaldamento Globale, valori di stima con margini giganteschi di errore. etc etc

3. CONSENSO: L’idea dietro il GPI non e’ certo malvagia, anzi. Chissa’ pero’ se c’e’ ancora in atto un qualche tentativo perche’ sia adottato internazionalmente. I riferimenti al GPI su Wikipedia diradano con il tempo

Altrimenti il GPI rimane un “indicatore” per gli “attivisti”, i “credenti” (“true believers“). E come il resto dell’intervento del Bonaiuti, il rischio reale e’ che lasci il tempo che trova

Categories
Famiglia Italiano

In ricordo di Charles Morabito, internato 25084 al campo nazista di Berga

Tutto e’ cominciato da una fotografia NARA pubblicata anni fa sull’International Herald Tribune: nel campo di internamento nazista di Berga, sulla sinistra, una croce con il nome “Morabito Charles”:

La tomba e’ stata trasferita altrove da tempo.

Dopo una breve ricerca, sono riuscito a stabilire che Charles e’ stato davvero sfortunato, Prigioniero di Guerra quando questa stava per finire, e internato in uno dei campi in cui sono morti (in percentuale) piu’ prigionieri.

La pagine della PBS riguardo il documentario “BERGA: Soldati di un altra Guerra” indicano Charles come prigioniero 25084, di grado PFC.

A quanto ne so finora, era della 106ma Divisione di Fanteria dell’esercito USA, ma non ho prove tangibili. Continuero’ a cercare

Categories
English Family Morabito

Remembering Charles Morabito, PoW 25084 at the Berga slave camp

It all started for me whilst reading the IHT, with a NARA photo of Charles Morabito’s then-grave at Berga:

Now I know Charles was a very unfortunate Prisoner of War, sent to a deadly slave camp in the last months of the war. The PBS pages about the documentary “BERGA: SOLDIERS oF ANOTHER WAR” list him as prisoner #25084, with rank PFC

He may have been of the 106th Infrantry Division, but it is not a given. I’m still looking for details

Categories
Calabria Italiano Politica Radio24

La Calabria a “Viva Voce”, Radio24

La nuova serie di Viva Voce, trasmissione quotidiana in onda nei giorni feriali dalle 9h alle 10h su Radio24 (Conduttori: Giancarlo Santalmassi, Giuseppe Cruciani, Giancarlo Loquenzi), ha visto finora alcune puntate dedicate alla Calabria, e non solo nella immediata scia di fatti di cronaca mafiosa

Ne raccolgo qui un elenco per futuro riferimento, e quindi comprendente i testi esplicativi pubblicati sul sito di Radio24

Calabria: passato, presente e futuro
24 Ottobre 2005
Francesco Fortugno, vicepresidente del Consiglio regionale calabrese ed esponente di primo piano della Margherita calabrese, è stato assassinato domenica 16 ottobre mentre si trovava davanti al seggio elettorale della sua città, Locri, per votare alle elezioni Primarie dell’Unione. Si tratta del più grave attentato mafioso perpetrato in Italia da molti anni a questa parte. Dalle stragi del 1992 le mafie non colpivano infatti importanti esponenti delle istituzioni. Un ritorno al passato? Ne parliamo con Enzo Ciconte, scrittore, docente, presso l’Università Roma Tre, del Corso sulla Storia della Criminalità organizzata ed esperto di mafia calabrese e Vincenzo Macrì, sostituto procuratore addetto alla Direzione Nazionale Antimafia.

Primo piano Calabria
31 Ottobre 2005

Il presidente degli industriali calabresi, dopo l’appello al presidente della Repubblica del giugno scorso, ha di nuovo preso carta e penna a seguito dell’omicidio Fortugno per denunciare la situazione disastrosa in cui regna la Calabria. E lo ha fatto tramite le pagine del quotidiano Il Sole24Ore. Le dichiarazioni seguite all’originario appello di Callipo e all’omicidio Fortugno si sono inscritte, autorevolmente, in quella “commedia degli inganni e delle parole a vuoto” che da oltre mezzo secolo, secondo gli “attori calabri”, ha creato polveroni, stravolgendo e mistificando l’impegno serio, che pure c’è, delle istituzioni civili e religiose, dei partiti politici , dei sindacati, degli amministratori, dei giornali e dei calabresi contro la “ndrangheta”, per cui alla fine non si capisce chi è ne è realmente contro e chi, invece, la favorisce. Il risultato di questa operazione è stata la crescita dell’invadenza mafiosa che invece di regredire, ha finito per condizionare in maniera determinante l’economia e il libero mercato, la politica, le istituzioni, l’informazione e le prospettive di sviluppo sociale e civile di questa Regione del Mezzogiorno. Ne parliamo con Enzo Ciconte, scrittore e esperto di mafia calabrese, Nicola Tranfaglia, storico ed editorialista de La Repubblica, Sergio Romano, storico ed editorialista de Il Corriere della Sera, Filippo Callipo, presidente di Confindustria Calabria e Mariano Maugeri, inviato de Il Sole24Ore.

Storie di mafia e ‘ndrangheta
8 Novembre 2005
Aperto com’è per vocazione alla condivisione e alla fratellanza, il Sud è gioia e sole, è luce e allegria, è spensieratezza. Accade forse qualcosa? Per omertà no. Eppure è un temporale continuo: per ultimo la morte di Francesco Fortugno. 54 anni, medico, padre di due figli, il vice presidente della Regione Calabria è stato colpito a Locri tre settimane fa. Omicidio che ha riacceso l’interesse nazionale su situazioni presenti, come la mafia e la ‘ndrangheta, con cui la società civile deve scontrarsi ogni giorno. Ne parliamo con due protagoniste: Rita Borsellino, presidente onorario dell’Associazione Libera e sorella del magistrato Paolo Borsellino e la Baronessa Teresa Cordopatri, eroina calabrese degli anni Novanta e simbolo della resistenza all’illegalità della società civile.

Un superprefetto contro la ‘Ndrangheta
28 Novembre 2005
Si è ufficialmente insediato il 7 novembre Luigi De Sena, il nuovo prefetto di Reggio Calabria, con la speranza generale che il suo arrivo coincida con l’inizio di una nuova fase nella lotta contro la ‘ndrangheta e l’avvio di una vera e propria terapia d’urto contro quella che risulta essere ormai la più potente organizzazione criminale italiana. L’ex vicecapo della Polizia, e direttore centrale della Polizia criminale, è stato nominato il 28 ottobre scorso dal Consiglio dei Ministri, su proposta del responsabile del Viminale Giuseppe Pisanu con l’incarico di gestire “poteri speciali” nella lotta contro la ‘ndrangheta, esigenza particolarmente avvertita dopo l’ assassinio il 21 ottobre scorso a Locri del vicepresidente del Consiglio regionale della Calabria, Francesco Fortugno. Dall’omertà al pentitismo, dalla richiesta di militarizzare la Regione alla nuova sfida aperta anche alla società civile: di questo e altro parliamo insieme a Luigi De Sena, il neo Prefetto di Reggio Calabria, ma anche a Domenico Luppino, ex sindaco di Sinopoli, constretto a lasciare il suo incarico pubblico dopo le dimissione dei suoi sette consigliere e nove minacce di vario tipo subite nel corso degli ultimi tre anni.

‘Ndrangheta e Sanità: la vedova Fortugno si racconta
7 Dicembre 2005
Sopraffatta dal dolore ma decisa a non arrendersi, la vedova Fortugno ha fatto sentire forte la sua voce dopo l’omocidio del marito, Francesco Fortugno, vicepresidente del Consiglio regionale della regione Calabria. “Faccio appello ai calabresi – ha detto Maria Grazia Laganà – a reagire. Come farò io per il futuro dei miei figli. Questa regione e la politica non devono essere lasciate sole. Non lo dico per retorica, ma spero che il sacrificio di mio marito valga a qualcosa”. Queste le parole di Maria Grazia Laganà, vedova per mano della ‘ndrangheta, ospite di Viva Voce per raccontarsi e raccontare cosa vuol dire vivere, o convivere, nella Locride. Insieme a lei anche Maurizio Carbonera, sindaco del comune di Buccinasco, vittima, per ben tre volte, della ‘ndrangheta “milanese”.

Riordinare le coste calabresi
19 Dicembre 2005
La nuova Giunta della Regione Calabria sta cercando di applicare la Legge Regionale Urbanistica, rimasta in un cassetto dal 2002. Nel definire gli scenari e il contesto dell’attuale condizione del territorio calabrese, è emerso che la maggiore pressione insediativa riguarda proprio le coste. La Giunta ha quindi ipotizzato alcune misure specifiche che possano, in attesa del Piano Paesaggistico, quantomeno garantire la corretta applicazione delle misure di salvaguardia della legge Galasso, quindi arginare in parte e regolare l’attività edilizia sulle coste calabresi almeno e soprattutto per gli ambiti più sensibili. Dopo queste indicazioni della Regione Calabria in molti hanno pubblicamente la loro disapprovazione: con pagine a pagamento sui principali quotidiani locali sono scesi in campo la Compagnia delle Opere, poi addirittura i Presidenti degli Ordini degli Architetti e Agronomi di Cosenza e i Costruttori Edili della Calabria. Come si può arginare il problema dell’abusivismo edilizio? Ne parliamo con Michelangelo Tripodi, assessore ai Trasporti e alle Infrastrutture della Regione Calabria, Giancarlo Franzè, presidente della Compagnia delle Opere calabrese, Giuseppe Gatto, presidente regionale dell’Ance Calabria, Antonio Ruggiero, presidente della Commissione straordinaria del comune di Vibo Valentia e Bernardo Secchi, urbanista dell’Università di Venezia.

Agazio Loiero, “cessato” dal suo partito
20 Marzo 2006

Non voglio fare la guerra alla Margherita, voglio fare una scommessa in Calabria. Se dovessimo perderla, io sono in grado di trarne le conseguenze, se invece sara’ un’affermazione, allora bisogna trarne un insegnamento”. Lo ha detto il Presidente della Regione Calabria, Agazio Loiero, nel corso della conferenza stampa di presentazione delle Liste del Codacons dove sono candidati alcuni dissidenti della Margherita, espulsi, come lui, dal partito della loro Regione. Dai primi malumori legati alle nomine alle Asl calabresi alla composizione delle liste per le future politiche: un percorco a ostacoli che ha portato la rottura tra Loiero e la Margherita. A raccontare questo percorso è proprio il governatore della Calabria Agazio Loiero insieme a Luigi Fedele, esponente di Forza Italia e consigliere-questore dell’Ufficio di Presidenza del Consiglio regionale della Calabria, Mariano Maugeri, inviato de Il Sole24Ore e Filippo Veltri, capo redattore calabrese dell’agenzia Ansa.

E’ emergenza Calabria?
20 Giugno 2006
“Sicurezza, sicurezza, sicurezza. La Calabria non ha bisogno d’altro. Serve solo sicurezza per chi opera e investe nel Sud”: è questo il messaggio che Filippo Callipo, presidente degli imprenditori calabresi, ha consegnato in un’intervista a Repubblica nella quale annunciava di voler gettare la spugna “dopo anni di denunce contro la strapotere criminale cadute nel vuoto”. L’imprenditore di Vibo Valentia lascia infatti l’incarico di presidente di Confindustria Calabria, in scadenza, con amarezza: “Senza essere riuscito a scalfire o a modificare, quelli che sono i rapporti consolidati di criminalità, politica e alcuni tipi di imprenditore”. Esiste quindi un’emergenza Calabria? Ne parliamo con Luciano Violante, onorevole dei Democratici di Sinistra e presidente della Commissione Affari costituzionali, della Presidenza del Consiglio e Interni, Filippo Callipo, presidente uscente di Confindustria Calabria e Marina Valensise, giornalista de Il Foglio.  

Categories
Development English International Policy

Limits to Front-End Beneficiary Participation in the Development Process

Prepared for the course “Development in Practice”, Birkbeck College, London March 2006

Introduction

The global sustainability debates, a turn towards a deliberative/communicative academic approach to Development [15], disillusionment with traditional blue-print planning [9]: these are some of the reasons behind the ongoing popularity of Front-End Beneficiary Participation, i.e. the involvement in a project, long before its design stage, of the people that are going to benefit from it (the Beneficiaries, communities and individuals).

With a group approach, FEBP can in theory encourage self-reliance among Beneficiaries [3][16][9], guarantee wider reach and involvement, and achieve “higher production levels“, a “more equitable distribution of benefits” and a reduction in recurrent costs “by stressing decentralization […] and self-help” [16], apart of course from helping in the adoption of innovations and even supporting social peace [12].

However, to fulfill its potential, FEBP must allow Beneficiaries to move up the Ladder of Citizen Participation, beyond tokenism [2] to let them have an effective say in the definition, control and verification of what is done, and how. But who really has that “power“? For example, what are the consequences of internal power dynamics [9] among Beneficiaries? With the above in mind, FEBP’s limits are evaluated here with the help of published literature and an analysis of the experience of Concern.

A Development Organization: “Concern

Started by Irish priests after the Biafra famine of 1968, Concern is a “non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization dedicated to the reduction of suffering“, with as goal the “elimination of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries” [8]. Its Beneficiaries are typically living in extreme poverty in States in the bottom forty of the UN Human Development Index; often in a rural setting, dependent on agriculture, lacking essential services in health and education and denied fundamental rights [1]. Emphasis is on lifestyle improvements sustainable without “ongoing support from Concern” [6], and on the promotion of gender equality [8].

Projects (covering Health, Basic Education, Livelihoods, HIV/AIDS and Emergency Response) focus more on matters of necessity than efficient use of resources [1]. The work is organized “directly with beneficiary groups or “a wide range of intermediate organizations” [5] in alliances such as FairTrade and MakePovertyHistory. Usually, research is carried out by answering questions such as ‘Does this [proposal] fit our mandate?’, ‘Can we intervene?’ (security, skills, funds, relationship with host government), ‘How much should we spend?’ and ‘How should we intervene?’ [4].

Results: The Limits of FEBP

FEBP at Concern – For Concern, FEBP is fundamental, “not only important but imperative” [1]. As stated in the Project Cycle Management System and several policy papers [1], any analysis “should include the involvement of those living in poverty” [4]. The actual implementation depends on targeting –scale, level and mechanism of involvement [6] – and is usually achieved through the following tools [1]:· Participatory Rural Appraisal, with local knowledge, analysis and plans [17]· Participatory Learning and Action, with local people learning their “needs, opportunities, and […] the actions required to address them” [14]· Community-Based Participatory Development, i.e. engaging existing structures

· Gender and Development (GAD), seeking the “participation of women and women’s groups at every stage of the process” [1]

· Goal Oriented Project Planning (ZOPP), with the involvement of all stakeholders

· Rapid Rural Appraisal, interdisciplinary teams with local involvement [11]

· Other tools of best practice depending on appropriateness and skills

Methodological Limits Concern’s attention to GAD reveals how important issues of power are in the techniques of FEBP. In fact, Participation runs paradoxically the risk of disempowering people “already without a voice” [7], for example if the Development Organization approaches the Beneficiaries just as yet another “interest group” lobbying its way to being listened to and catered for [10]. Additional problems relate to on Development workers’ lack of awareness of participatory principles and methods [1], combined with a plethora of not-easy-to-select available tools. There are also the usual difficulties with “issue remoteness” (Beneficiaries don’t get involved unless policies/actions have an immediate impact in their lives) [9]; and “consultation fatigue” (projects ask too much and too often to and from their participants) [10]. Any implementation of FEBP is also bound to the particular Organization that is sponsoring it, to the Project that will be designed [9], to the Community whose participation is requested; and by the natural, human resistance to change of the Development workers, their cultural baggage and their linguistic abilities. FEBP may also suffer from uncertainties on “what is a group” and the “group’s” internal cohesion / homogeneity (the “myth of community”) [9].

Beneficiary-side LimitsThe outcomes of FEBP approaches are in fact greatly influenced by complex psychological group dynamics [9], such as exchanges (between the community, its members, the Development Organization and other “actors”) of their “relative power”, the capacity to control, influence, and decide. For example, as FEBP is done through groups, certain individuals may feel less prone to fully participate, if they don’t see that as part of their contribution to the society. The community itself could feel inclined to express its “needs” in terms of what the particular Development Organization is expected to deliver.

Poor, poorly educated, poorly skilled, subsistence-farming beneficiaries may also not have enough time or other resources, to become fully aware of participatory principles and methods, and to dedicate the appropriate amounts of time to FEBP. And on top of the usual cultural/linguistic barriers, Beneficiaries have to deal with the unfamiliar terminology of institutional language and the jargon of Development [9].

Mitigation The shortcomings of FEBP restrict its possibilities, leading at times to “formulaic”, “religious” [9] applications of “rigid” methodologies [1]. Participation could transmutate in political co-option: “talking” a previously-neglected community (often, its already overburdened female members), into providing cheap labor [9].Good Participation evidently depends on Good Governance of FEBP, starting from lessening the consequences of power dynamics: by giving due consideration to the “relative bargaining power” of the Participants, Beneficiaries included [9]; by delegating decision-making to a local level [1]; and by building close personal relationships with individuals, not only communities [9].

Knowledge, effectiveness and flexibility can be improved via a “Lessons Learned” process: with FEBP appraisals and improvements as ongoing tasks; with their results pushed out to the whole Organization; and with the replication of successful participatory programmes [1]. “Lessons Learned” must also include the spreading of the awareness of the limitations of FEBP itself, and lead to the exploration/investigation of alternatives [9].

Conclusions

In the face of its many advantages Front-End Beneficiary Participation has specific limits and is no panacea for the efficient and effective development of communities:

· Limits of FEBP come both from the approach taken by the Development Organization; and from the conditions of the Beneficiaries themselves

· Issues include Power, Awareness/Information, Flexibility, and Culture

· When limitations are native to FEBP, improvements or alternative approaches should be considered

· A continuous re-evaluation of methodologies an increased attention to individuals may help overcome some of those constraints

Bibliography

[1] Deering, K. (UK Head of Partnership Development at Concern Worldwide UK) (2006) Personal correspondence with the author.

[2] Arnstein, S. (1969) A ladder of citizen participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 34: 216-225

[3] Chambers, R. (1984) Putting the last first. London: Longman

[4] Concern Worldwide (2000) How Concern Targets Countries for Poverty Elimination. Dublin

[5] Concern Worldwide (2001) Capacity Building Policy. Dublin

[6] Concern Worldwide (2002) Concern’s approach to emergencies. Dublin

[7] Concern Worldwide (2004) Programme Participant Protection Policy. Dublin

[8] Concern Worldwide (2005), Policy Statement. Dublin

[9] Cooke, B., Kothari, U. (2001) “Introduction”, in Cooke, B., Kothari, U. (Eds.) Participation: the New Tyranny. London: Zed Books Ltd.

[10] Croft, S. and Beresford, P. (1996) “The Politics Of Participation”, in Taylor, D. (Editor) Critical Social Policy: A reader, London: Sage, pp175-198 (cited in Cornwall, A., and Gaventa, J. (2000) From users and choosers to makers and shapers: Repositioning Participation in Social Policy. IDS Bulletin 31 (4): pp 50-62)

[11] Crawford, I.M. (1997) “Chapter 8: Rapid Rural Appraisal”, in Marketing Research and Information Systems. (Marketing and Agribusiness Texts – 4). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

[12] De Soto, H. (1989) The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism. New York: Basic Books

[13] Healey, P. (1997) Collaborative Planning: shaping places in fragments societies. Basingstoke: Macmillan

[14] International Institute for Environment and Development (2003) What is Participatory Learning and Action?. London: IIED

[15] Mbiba, B. (2006) Participation: The ladder of citizen participation and limits to participation. Lecture Notes

[16] Van Heck, B. (2003) “Why Participation and What are the Obstacles?”, in Participatory Development: Guidelines on Beneficiary Participation in Agricultural and Rural Development. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

[17] World Bank (1996) The World Bank Participation Sourcebook, Appendix I: Methods and Tools. Washington, D.C.

Categories
Italiano Medio Oriente New York Review of Books Radio24

Israele e Palestina – L’Ottusita’ di Fondo

Triste ascoltare il 28 Giugno scorso alcune parti di Viva Voce, programma condotto da Giancarlo Loquenzi su Radio 24 tutte le mattine feriali dalle 9h alle 10h (“Medio Oriente: una pace impossibile?”).

Se ne scaricate la registrazione, da 29m15sec in poi si puo’ ascoltare Fiamma Nirenstein, corrispondente da Israele per La Stampa, difendere appassionatamente…la sua assenza di passione.

La Nirenstein dice di essere Ebrea, ma cio’ non avrebbe “inficiato” i suoi giudizi. Anzi, prosegue “Ho insight senza pregiudizio

Meno male che ce lo dice in maniera cosi’ chiara…

Ma bando al sarcasmo: quello che dice la Nirenstein e’ l’ennesima manifestazione di un problema annoso quanto comune, e che non ha portato, non porta e non portera’ mai da nessuna parte.

Infatti la Nostra dedica ogni suo intervento in trasmissione a “dimostrare” che Israele fa bene, qualunque cosa faccia (anche nell’idiotica idea degli omicidi mirati, nonostante questa politica sia fra le cause della nascita del terrorismo palestinese di questo secolo). E naturalmente ogni crisi, ogni incidente e ogni dramma e’ sempre colpa dei Palestinesi.

Il punto non e’ negare l’innegabile: la Nirenstein fa un lungo e preciso elenco degli errori da parte palestinese. E’ un elenco da condividere in pieno (manca solo il lato strategico-militare: che senso ha per un topolino attaccare frontalmente un orso? Perche’ costringere Israele a reagire se non si hanno i mezzi per una pur minima difesa militare? argomento che avra’ il suo blog)

Il punto e’ che concentrarsi sugli “errori” di una sola delle due parti, nel conflitto mediorientale, significa cercare di mascherare una ottusita’ senza fine

Infatti, perche’ non dovrebbe un commentatore palestinese usare gli stessi metodi retorici? In cosa avrebbe torto, se si occupasse solo di ripetere la litania di tutto cio’ che c’e’ di sbagliato e innegabile nel modo in cui Israele gestisce i Territori Occupati?

(per un limitato elenco, si legga “What Does Olmert Want?”, dell’ebreo israeliano Amos Elon, sulla New York Review of Books, Volume 53, Number 11 · June 22, 2006)

E’ questa ottusita’, questo voler santificare un contendente e demonizzare e/o dipingere come stupido l’avversario, che appiattisce il dibattito. E non fa niente per risolvere il conflitto Israelo-Palestinese. Anzi!

Altrimenti, i due nemici avranno sempre ragione, e procederanno d’odio e d’accordo nel piu’ classico caso di Tirem innanz’ di due nazioni

Categories
Ambiente Italiano Lettere New York Times

Etica e Carbone

Buona o cattiva notizia? Ho avuto appena la mia settima lettera pubblicata sulle pagine dell’International Herald Tribune (28 giugno 2006)

“La Falsa Promessa Del Carbone”

Jeff Goodell cade in un ragionamento circolare quando scrive che il problema piu’ grande legato all’uso del carbone e’ “che cosa fa alle nostre menti. Mantiene l’illusione che non dobbiamo cambiare le nostre vite”(“Coal’s false promise to America,” Views, June 24).

Se il carbone è abbondante e disponibile, come Goodell segnala, certamente ci sono pochi motivi per preoccuparsi per la fine dell’era del petrolio a basso costo? E se il carbone causa i problemi ambientali a causa dell’estrazione antiquata e del modo in cui viene bruciato, non è il problema uno di migliorare tecnologie e processi, piuttosto che abbandonare il carbone del tutto?

Uno è lasciato con l’impressione che la campagna contro il carbone è giusta un’altra impresa moralizzatrice, che approfitta delle pretese scarsita’ di risorse per costringerci a vivere una vita “più etica”.

Maurizio Morabito Orpington, Inghilterra

Scrivero’ altri blog riguardo le altre sei lettere pubblicate finora (e tutte quelle mai stampate), ma per ora una lista e’ disponibile cercando “maurizio morabito” a questo link

Categories
Climate Change English Environment International Herald Tribune Letters Policy

Ethics and Coal

Is this sad or cool? I just had my seventh published letter on the pages of the International Herald Tribune (June 28, 2006)

“Coal’s False Promise”

Jeff Goodell indulges in circular reasoning when he writes that the biggest problem with coal is “what it does to our minds. It preserves the illusion that we don’t have to change our lives” (“Coal’s false promise to America,” Views, June 24).

If coal is abundant and available, as Goodell reports, surely there are fewer reasons to worry about the end of cheap oil? And if coal causes environmental problems because of antiquated extraction and burning practices, isn’t the problem one of improving those technologies and processes, rather than abandoning coal altogether? 

One is left with the impression that the campaign against coal is just another moralizing enterprise, taking advantage of purported shortages to corral us into living a “more ethical” life.

Maurizio Morabito Orpington, England

I will blog about the other six letters published so far (and all the ones never printed), but for now a list is available by searching for “maurizio morabito” at this link

Categories
Calcio Coppa del Mondo 2006 Italiano Umorismo

Una Palla di Saggezza

a. Chi non segna, non vince

b. Se pensi che il tuo sia il miglior centrocampo al mondo, vuol dire che non lo e’

c. E’ piu’ facile simulare che subire un fallo

d. Le cadute piu’ convenienti sono all’interno dell’area avversaria

e. Proteggere un solo palo non e’ abbastanza

f. Si puo’ difendere usando la regola del fuorigioco solo se tutti i difensori sono svegli e presenti a se stessi

g. E’ meglio avere un portiere cui sia familiare l’oggetto rotondo preso a calci da tutti gli altri

h. Segnare contro una squadretta non e’ necessariamento segno di grandezza

i. Il potere degli arbitri sul risultato non può essere sottovalutato

j. se Blatter parla alla mattina contro il toccare la palla con la mano sinistra, usa quella destra

Categories
English Football Humor World Cup 2006

WC wisdom

a. if you cannot score you cannot win

b. if you beleve your midfield is the strongest in the world, it isn’t

c. it is easier to simulate than to suffer a foul

d. if you want to fall it is far more convenient to do it in the opponents’ penalty area

e. putting a defender at just one of the goalposts is not enough

f. defending by using the offside rule depends on all the defenders being awake and aware of their surroundings

g. it is better if your goalkeeper has previous familiarity with the rounded thingy everybody else is kicking around

h. lots of goals against a weak team are no evidence of greatness

i. referees’ influence on the result cannot be underestimated

j. if Blatter speaks in the morning against touching the ball with one’s left hand, use the right one

Categories
Calcio Coppa del Mondo 2006 Italiano Lettere Repubblica

La Repubblica del Pollame

(lettera spedita alla redazione de La Repubblica)

Cara Redazione

Ma perche’ cascate come dei polli alle provocazioni del Provocatore di Spiegel?

Mi riferisco all’articolo “Italiani, i soliti parassiti – Spiegel
prepara la semifinale” di Cristina Nadotti
(27 Giugno)

Il caro Achim Achilles e’ pagato per essere “scorretto” (date un’occhiata al suo materiale piu’ recente), e non potra’ che farsi quattro risate pensando al tempo che avete perduto a rispondere piccati e a descrivere i suoi cosiddetti insulti

Non penso proprio che arrabbiarsi di fronte al pagliaccio sia un
comportamente serio e adulto

saluti

Categories
Economia Famiglia Italiano Politica Sviluppo

Liberiamo i Poveri dalle Case Popolari

Perchè i poveri rimangono poveri?

Certamente anche i poveri dovrebbero essere capaci di capire gli ovvi vantaggi di essere ricchi?

E così ha ragione chi li tratta dall'alto in basso, come una collega di mailing list che ha scritto una volta "se nascono la' e rimangono la', vuol dire che rimangono la' per scelta"?

Scelta? Che scelta?

Coloro che nascono nello squallore, e' "istruito" nello squallore ed abita nello squallore…non sono ovviamente meno adatti ad approfittare di occasioni per uscire dallo squallore, per il semplice fatto che non possono "vederle"?

Non possono poiche' ne hanno visto poche in passato, e' stato loro "insegnato" di vivere nello squallore, conoscono pochissime persone di "success" (a parte trafficanti di droga e ad altri capibanda malavitosi)

Non trascuriamo poi il fatto che le "occasioni" sono difficili da approfittare quando la lotta quotidiana è come difendere il proprio appartamento da tossicomani impazziti

Ci sono alcuni dati nel Regno Unito che indicano che i discendenti degli immigranti Afro-Caraibici che hanno meno probabilita' di essere poveri al giorno d'oggi, sono coloro le cui famiglie non hanno potuto ottenere posti nei giganteschi complessi delle Case Popolari (che da allora sono divenuti labirinti fuorilegge). Come dice l'Economist:

Per più di una decade dopo che i neri hanno cominciasseto ad emigrare in Gran-Bretagna in grandi numeri, sono stati esclusi dall'edilizia popolare ed occasionalmente anche dagli affitti. Nel 1971, il 44% aveva comprato il proprio alloggio. Fortunatamente per loro, molte di quelle proprietà erano vicino a zone centrali, e hanno visto aumenti enormi dei prezzi delle case [… ]

Molti di coloro che hanno ottenuto un posto nelle case popolari, invece, sono bloccati in zone d'emarginazione. Essendo stati piazzati sproporzionatamente in grattacieli, circondati da criminalita' e da scuole disfunzionali, mancano dei mezzi per migliorare la loro situazione. E la situazione economica delle donne di origine africana non e' aiutata da un numero di famiglie senza genitore maschio che è in percentuale due volte più che la media nazionale.

Per quanto valga l'aneddotica, la mia esperienza indiretta va nella stessa direzione: un futuro molto triste per chi ha la mala sorte di nascere laddove di notte (e forse anche di giorno) neanche la Polizia rischia di entrare

Un risultato davvero tragico, che dovrebbe incitarci a pensare due volte all'applicazione bovina di semplicisti ideali socialisti

Io dico, distruggiamo appena possibile tutti i progetti di case popolari-ghetti. Ridistribuiamo i loro abitanti nel mondo reale, mescolandoli con altri strati sociali il piu' possibile. E particolarmente all'inizio, aiutamo i loro bambini 24/7 perche' trovino una via d'uscita da cosa la vita ha insegnato loro finora

Categories
Development English Humanity Policy Politics UK

Free the Poor from Social Housing

Why would the poor remain poor?

Surely even they must be able to understand the obvious advantages of being rich? And so is it right to treat them with condescension, as a fellow member of a mailing list once wrote “If they're born into and stay there, then they stay there by choice”?

Choice? What choice?

People born in squalid conditions, "educated" in squalid conditions and inhabiting in squalid conditions…aren’t they obviously less likely to take advantage of opportunities for the mere fact that they simply cannot see them?

Because they have seen few of them in the past, have been "taught" to live in squalid conditions, have had little exposure to people that "made it" (apart from successful drug traffickers and other gangmasters)

Not to mention the fact that "opportunities" are hard to take advantage of when the daily struggle is how to avoid having one's apartment taken over by crazed drug addicts

There is some data showing that in the UK the people of Afro-Caribbean descent less likely to be poor nowadays are the ones whose families were unable to get a flat in those gigantic housing complexes for the poor (that have since then turned in labyrinthine no-law areas)

For more than a decade after blacks began to arrive in Britain in large numbers, they were excluded from public housing and occasionally from private rented accommodation too. By 1971, 44% had bought properties. Fortunately for them, many of those properties were in central neighbourhoods that have seen enormous price increases. […]

Many of those who fought their way into public housing, on the other hand, have become stuck in the inner city. Having been placed disproportionately in high-rise blocks, surrounded by criminality and malfunctioning schools, they lack the means of advancement. Black women's finances are not helped by a rate of lone parenthood that is more than twice the national average.

I say, let’s destroy asap all old-style social housing projects. Redistribute the people in the real world, as intermingled with other social strata as possible. And especially at the beginning, help their children 24/7 to find a way out of what life has taught them so far.

A tragic result that should make us think twice about the bovine application of simplistic socialist ideals

Categories
Borders Culture English Geography Letters

Borders that matter

From "A Muso Duro" (Marco Belpoliti, La Stampa, 20 June 2006 (in italian)):

In truth the geographic divide in the Italian Peninsula is not between the North and the South, but between East and West. The Italian "Boot" is more tilted than it appears in classrooms' maps, and it is possible to travel from North to South on the Adriatic side without crossing any mountain: from Venice to Bari there is no separation clear border, apart from the Po, which it is not a true dividing line between North and South (are Emilia and Romagna regions of the Italian South?). The geographers have explained to us for a long time that the true geographic difference in Italy is that between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian sides, even if it is obvious that the cultures follow the "geographic quotas", and the differences between the villages placed East or West of the Appennini are never clear-cut

This is not just a phenomenon of the Appennini

Think of the Alps, where cultures have diffused among the mountains: therefore distributing themselves across the watersheds, instead of considering those like border lines

Mountain chains all over the planet (look at the Caucasus, the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains), looking to the modern eye like "natural borders", have been demonstrated time and again as lines of union, and not of separation

A "geographic border" with more important social consequences exists, and it is the border between those within easy approach of great ways of communication, and those far away or on the periphery: the wealth of the Po Valley instead of the history of poverty on the surrounding mountains; the powerful economy of the close-to-Europe Italian North, instead of the perennial crisis of the faraway Italian South; and looking at other countries, the opulence of Paris and London instead of the marginalization of their peripheries

Categories
Confini Geografia Italiano La Stampa Lettere

I Confini Geografici Piu’ Importanti

In "A Muro Duro" (Marco Belpoliti, La Stampa, 20 Giugno 2006) fra l'altro viene detto:

In realtà il vero discrimine geografico nella Penisola non è quello tra Nord e Sud, ma quello tra Est e Ovest. Lo Stivale è molto più inclinato di come appaia in molte delle carte appese nelle aule scolastiche, e si può andare da Nord a Sud nel versante adriatico senza varcare alcuna montagna: da Venezia a Bari non c'è confine di separazione netto, se non il Po, il quale non è però un vero divisore tra Nord e Sud (l'Emilia e la Romagna sono regioni del Sud?). I geografi ci hanno spiegato da tempo che la vera differenza geografica in Italia è quella determinata dai due versanti: l'Adriatico e il Tirreno, anche se è evidente che le culture seguono le quote geografiche, e le differenze tra i paesi collocati sul versante est e quello ovest dell'Apennino non sono mai nette.

Non si tratta di un fenomeno solo dell'Appennino

Pensiamo alle Alpi stesse, dove le culture si sono diffuse fra le montagne: distribuendosi quindi a cavallo degli spartiacque, invece di considerarli come linee di confine

E non solo: piu' o meno per tutto il pianeta (si veda il Caucaso, l'Himalaya, le Montagne Rocciose) il crinale di una catena montuosa, che a uno sguardo moderno appare come un "confine naturale", si e' dimostrato la maggior parte delle volte una linea di unione, e non di separazione

Un "discrimine geografico" con conseguenze a livello sociale molto piu' importanti esiste, ed e' il confine fra chi ha accesso a grandi vie di comunicazione, e chi ne e' lontano o alla periferia: per cui alla ricchezza della Val Padana si contrappone la poverta' storica delle comunita' montane circostanti; alla potente economia del Nord Italia vicino all'Europa, la perenne crisi del Sud cosi' lontano; e per guardare all'estero, all'opulenza di Parigi e Londra si contrasta l'emarginazione delle loro periferie

Categories
Famiglia Italia Italiano Politica Religione

PACS, cosi’ timidi da rovinare la Famiglia

Paradossalmente: sbagliando completamente l'argomentazione, il Vaticano ha ragione a preoccuparsi dei PACS come la rovina del Matrimonio e della Famiglia

E la soluzione che non riesce a vedere e' l'unica praticabile: alla maniera britannica, Matrimonio per Tutti (etero- ed omosessuali)

—————-

Questi (non-)benedetti Patti Civili di Solidarieta' sono un po' comicamente considerati in Italia come un'idea radicale, rivoluzionaria, sconvolgente

In realta' sono un concetto timidissimo. Nel vano tentativo di rincuorare il folto gruppo di tradizionalisti, nel Vaticano e altrove, che non riescono a vedere al di la' del loro piccolo piccolo, i PACS sembrano definiti in contrapposizione al "classico" Matrimonio

Allo stesso tempo, per avere un minimo senso i PACS devono contenere abbastanza salvaguardie dei diritti della coppia rispetto a diritti di "terzi"

E devono essere disponibili sia a coppie omosessuali, che eterosessuali, per non creare un "ghetto legale"

Questa davvero diabolica combinazione fara' dei PACS italiani una specie di Matrimonio Light

Ed e' proprio per questo che i PACS porteranno alla lacerazione del concetto di Matrimonio e di Famiglia

—————-

Immaginiamo infatti una coppia (eterosessuale) posta di fronte alla scelta: se non per far piacere ai genitori, o per motivi religiosi, perche' mai dovrebbero scegliere il Matrimonio, invece che un PACS?

A pensarci bene, la scelta del Matrimonio invece che il PACS sara' una follia, con tutti gli assurdi vincoli tuttora vigenti (come il rischio di attendere cinque anni per essere civilmente liberi)

La titubante implementazione di un'opzione PACS per omosessuali portera' quindi con tutta probabilita' ad una riduzione del numero di Matrimoni fra eterosessuali

I rapporti familiari stessi verranno allora ridisegnati per i piu', dovendo tenere conto della natura necessariamente piu' transitoria del rapporto regolato dal PACS piuttosto che dal Matrimonio

—————-

La soluzione e' semplice, chiara, praticabile, logica, e palese: cosi' come succede in Inghilterra, invece di inventare il Matrimonio Light, dovremmo estendere il diritto al Matrimonio a tutti gli adulti consenzienti, quindi anche agli omosessuali

(Nota: sono consapevole che le Civil Union britanniche siano sulla carta diverse dal Matrimonio. Le differenze sono comunque assolutamente trascurabili, e quindi dal punto di vista pratico inesistenti)

—————-

Quale migliore esempio infatti per i nostri bambini dell'importanza del Matrimonio, che il mostrarlo come meta naturale qualsiasi sia il "tipo" di coppia?

E come giustificare ai loro occhi alcune contraddizioni palesi?

Quale migliore esempio infatti di "Patto Civile di Solidarieta'" che la famosa "Famiglia del Papa" descritta dal portavoce vaticano Navarro Vals alla morte di Giovanni Paolo II come composta dal Segretario di Giovanni Paolo II, e dalle tre suore che lo accudirono fino alla fine?

E che senso dare alla storia di quella mamma che dopo aver cambiato sesso, ha sposato una compagna di collegio? Forse qualcuno vuole suggerire alle coppie omosessuali che si volessero sposare, di tirare a sorte chi dei due debba finire sotto i ferri?

Puo' essere corretta, una Legge che insinua che una persona e' diversa prima e dopo incontrare il chirurgo? O che i diritti dei cittadini cambiano a seconda di quali organi genitali penzolino o non penzolino nei pantaloni?

Magari ci fosse un avvocato coraggioso che volesse portare queste incongruenze di fronte alla giustizia europea!

Categories
Italiano Lettere National Geographic Scienza

Inesattezza sul National Geographic Magazine

La National Geographic Society ha appena riconosciuto via e-mail un error che ho trovato su uno degli articoli pubblicati sul loro famoso Magazine

L'articolo è "Last Days of the Ice Hunters", di Gretel Ehrlich, pubblicato nell'edizione originale nel mese di gennaio del 2006

La Ehrlich scrive: "[…] Mentre la luce sbiadisce intorno alle 23, ci dirigiamo verso la costa [… ] A circa mezzanotte il Sole è una palla rossa all'orizzonte. Mentre l'oscurita' avanza, la temperatura scende a -40°C. La notte sarà breve – in alcune ore il Sole sorgera' di nuovo[… ] "

In realta', dal contesto dell'articolo sappiamo che quanto descritto sopra è accaduto il 19 o 20 Marzo di ("[…] 21 Marzo, equinozio primaverile e nostro quarto giorno sul mare ghiacciato [… ]"): così vicino all'equinozio, quando come ben sappiamo ci sono 12 ore di luce e 12 ore di buio sull'intero globo (Groenlandia inclusa).

Ciò mette in dubbio il Sole "palla rossa all'orizzonte a mezzanotte" riportato nell'articolo

———–

Per verificare la situazione, ho utilizzato il sito del Dipartimento di Applicazioni Astronomiche dell'Osservatorio Navale USA, che può essere utilizzato in linea a partire da Weatherimages.org

Ho usato come posizione per Qaanaaq (la città da dove scriveva la Ehrlich) Longitudine Ovest 69° 00min, Latitudine Nord 77° 40min

Ho supposto inoltre che Qaanaaq, come il resto della Groenlandia, usa GMT-2 come fuso orario

Questi i risultati:

Sabato 19 Marzo 2005         GMT – 2h
Inizio crepuscolo civile 06:56
Sorgere del Sole 08:36
Transito solare al meridiano 14:44
Tramonto 20:55
Fine crepuscolo civile 22:38

Domenica 20 Marzo 2005         GMT – 2h
Inizio crepuscolo civile 06:39
Sorgere del Sole 08:21
Transito solare al meridiano 14:35
Tramonto 20:54
Fine crepuscolo civile 22:38

Venerdi' 19 Marzo 2004         GMT – 2h
Inizio crepuscolo civile 06:46
Sorgere del Sole 08:26
Transito solare al meridiano 14:36
Tramonto 20:49
Fine crepuscolo civile 22:32

Sabato 20 Marzo 2004         GMT – 2h
Inizio crepuscolo civile 06:37
Sorgere del Sole 08:19
Transito solare al meridiano 14:35
Tramonto 20:56
Inizio crepuscolo civile 22:40

Da quanto riportato si capisce che, contrariamente a quanto segnalato dalla Ehrlich:

  1. La luce si è sbiadita di conseguenza ai livelli di sotto-penombra fra 20 e 30 minuti prima delle 23
  2. Quindi, circa a mezzanotte il Sole non era visibile, invece di essere "una palla rossa all'orizzonte"
  3. Le notti non erano brevi (duravano fra 11h20m e 11h40m)

E' da notare che circostanze come segnalate dalla Ehrlich possono essere sperimentate in Qaanaaq intorno al 12 aprile

Lunedi' 12 Aprile 2004         GMT – 2h
Sorgere del Sole 05:03
Transito solare al meridiano 14:29
Tramonto 00:04 il giorno dopo

E non e' un problema di fuso orario. Con il Sole che transita alle 14:30, l'orologio a Qaanaaq e' gia' 2 ore in avanti rispetto al tempo solare locale

Ricapitolando, Ms.Ehrlich ha segnalato in modo errato di aver visto un tramonto molto più tardi di quando è accaduto

Ciò sarebbe un incidente secondario in tutte le riviste a parte National Geographic. Ma visto che si presume che quella pubblicazione riporti effettivamente cio' che accade nel mondo cosi' come accade, uno puo' solo sperare che i loro processi editoriali siano migliorati per evitare errori elementari come quello qui sopra

Categories
English Letters National Geographic Science Skepticism

Inaccurate reporting on the National Geographic Magazine

Just got acknowledgement from the National Geographic Society of some inaccuracy I have found on one of the articles published on their famous Magazine

The article is Gretel Ehrlich's "Last Days of the Ice Hunters", published in January 2006

Ms. Ehrlich writes: "[…] By the time the light fades about 11 p.m., we head toward shore […] About midnight the fading sun is a red orb hanging at the horizon. As darkness bleeds into it, the temperature plummets to minus 40°F. Night will be brief — in a few hours the sun will swing east again.[…]"

In fact, from the context of the article we know the above must have happened on the 19th or 20th of March ("[…] March 21, the vernal equinox and our fourth day on the sea ice […]"). So near the spring equinox, when as we all know there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness on the entire globe (Greenland included).

This puts into doubt the midnight fading sun reported above

————-

To check the actual situation, I used the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department's tool, that can be used online starting from Weatherimages.org

I entered the location for Qaanaaq (the town where Ms. Ehrlich was reporting from) as Longitude W 69deg 00min, Latitude N 77deg 40m

I assumed also that Qaanaaq, like the rest of Greenland, uses GMT-2 as its time zone

These are the results

Saturday 19 March 2005         Universal Time – 2h
Begin civil twilight      06:56
Sunrise                   08:36
Sun transit               14:44
Sunset                    20:55
End civil twilight        22:38

Sunday 20 March 2005         Universal Time – 2h
Begin civil twilight      06:39
Sunrise                   08:21
Sun transit               14:35
Sunset                    20:54
End civil twilight        22:38

Friday 19 March 2004         Universal Time – 2h
Begin civil twilight      06:46
Sunrise                   08:26
Sun transit               14:36
Sunset                    20:49
End civil twilight        22:32

Saturday 20 March 2004         Universal Time – 2h
Begin civil twilight      06:37
Sunrise                   08:19
Sun transit               14:35
Sunset                    20:56
End civil twilight        22:40

——————- 

From the above it can be argued that, contrarily to what reported by Ms.Ehrlich:

  1. The light faded to below-twilight levels between 20 and 30 minutes before 11pm
  2. Accordingly, about midnight the sun was not visible, instead than being "a red horb hanging at the horizon"
  3. Nights were not brief (they were lasting between 11h20m and 11h40m)

Notably, conditions as reported by Ms. Ehrlich can be experienced in Qaanaaq around April 12

Monday 12 April 2004         Universal Time – 2h
Sunrise                   05:03
Sun transit               14:29
Sunset                    00:04 on following day

And it is not a problem of time zones. With the Sun transiting at 2h30pm, Qaanaaq's clock appears to be already 2 hours ahead of the local solar time

———-

In summary, Ms.Ehrlich has incorrectly reported seeing a sunset much later than when it happened

This would be a minor accident in any magazine other than the National Geographic. However, as that publication is presumed to be a factual reporting of what happens in the world exactly as it happens, one can only hope that their editorial processes will be improved to catch elementary mistakes like the one above

Categories
Italia Italiano Politica Radio24

Stanze del buco: ignoranza se non disinformazione

Giancarlo Loquenzi, conduttore estivo del giornaliero Viva Voce su Radio24, ha dedicato la puntata del 14 Giugno al suggerimento del ministro della Solidarieta' Sociale Paolo Ferrero di considerare anche in Italia l'impiego di "stanze del buco – luoghi protetti dove potersi drogare sotto controllo medico"

Di seguito un resoconto (file audio scaricabile a questo link), intervallato da miei commenti fra parentesi ()

Non prima pero' di aver detto che non capisco chi e' contrario alle "stanze del buco". Un po' come per l'aborto: sarebbe bello se nessuno lo volesse fare, ma a proibirlo si peggiorano le cose

Anzi, con l'aggravante della tossicodipendenza: una malattia assolutamente non riconosciuta come tale: come se la soluzione al diabete fosse semplicemente inviarne tutti i malati in comunita' dove convincerli a non mangiare dolci

Ma forse, come concludo piu' sotto, e' tutto dovuto a una grande ignoranza di tutto il problema delle droghe e della dipendenza

===========

Sono ospiti Daniele Capezzone, segretario dei Radicali Italiani, Alfredo Mantovano, senatore di Alleanza Nazionale ed ex sottosegretario al Ministero degli Interni, e ?? Ravelli, corrispondente della Repubblica inviato a Zurigo

Mantovano: Esordisce dicendo che bisogna prevenire, e informare che drogarsi fa male 

(francamente, questo non risponde al problema di fondo: come aiutare chi drogato gia' lo sia. cosa c'entra la prevenzione con la riduzione del danno?)

Loquenzi chiede lumi sulla potenziale riduzione del consumo dopo l'introduzione delle "stanze" 

Capezzone: Dato pubblicato su Lancet riguardo Zurigo e' di -82% di uso e -20% di morti per overdose. Esperimenti in proposito sono stati lanciati in Olanda, Germania e Spagna, da governi di centrodestra. Invece la nuova legge italiana prevede a chi avesse 6-8 spinelli la perquisizione all’alba, almeno 8000 euro di spese e fra i 6 e i 20 anni carcere. Il governo precedente ha abdicato davanti alla Mafia che controlla lo spaccio 

Ravelli (ha pubblicato articolo su Repubblica, non e' disponibile in rete): Le "stanze del buco" sono superate a Zurigo dalla somministrazione controllata: piccoli uffici dove gli iscritti ricevono 3 volte al giorno eroina iniettata davanti a un testimone. Prima era a pagamento ora mutuata. E' eroina comprata dallo Stato da una casa farmaceutica. Iscrizione al servizio se ogni altro tentativo fallisce. Sono aiutati a trovare casa/lavoro. Altre soluzioni: metadone in farmacia. Il sistema vige da 15 anni, e' pratico, ha abbattuto il numero dei morti, e' concreto. E' sopravvissuto a un referendum per abrogarlo

Mantovano: E' solo una goccia nel mare. Significa l'assuefazione al fenomeno. Riduzione danno non significa solo dal danno derivante dal prendere droga  Bisogna includere i morti per assunzione controllata, inclusi quelli per incidenti stradali causati da drogati. Anche il Segretario UN con delega alla droga critica i risultati. Ci sono casi concreti di pene assurde come detto da Capezzone? Nella legge c’e’ gradazione e sono presentate alternative

Ascoltatore 1: Meglio la punizione. "Stanze" sono come mattatoi.

Ascoltatore 2: Ha 47 anni e ha perso diversi compagni di scuola per droga. La proposta e' sensata, il problema esiste. Drogati ci sono, nonostante le leggi. Meglio che siringhe per strada: le sanzioni sono inutili

Capezzone: Mantovano sogna un mondo senza droga. Il guaio e’ che il proibizionismo facilita la diffusione e l’uso della droga stessa. Contro la cultura dello sballo ci vuole il controllo e l’assistenza. La morale e’ che ci sono persone che sarebbero morte e invece tornano a casa con le proprie gambe. Niente ideologia, niente dichiarazioni favorevoli alla "vita" per poi lasciare le persone a morire. E la legge dice che 500mg hashish significano galera. E' inattuabile: centinania di migliaia di 18enni da indagare. La legge e' da abrogare

Ascoltatore 3: La droga porta alla morte. Questo deve essere il messaggio dello stato. Con le stanze si porta il ragazzo a morire. Vanno invece recuperati. e mandati in comunita’/assistenze per farli smettere

(un grave sintomo di una ignoranza diffusa sulle droghe e i loro effetti. a parte le dosi tagliate male e l'overdose, di eroina per esempio non si muore. Del legalissimo alcool invece si', per non parlare delle migliaia di morti in incidenti stradali dovuti al bere eccessivo)

Ascoltatore 4: Sono problemi tra il vizio e la necessita’ mai risolti (come la prostituzione). E la malavita ne guadagna. La droga non puo' essere sconfitta, e' un vizio umano . Perche’ allora accanirsi per eliminarla o lasciarla alla malavita? C'e' il monopolio delle sigarette, degli alcoolici, perche’ non allora il monopolio della droga. Compito dello Stato e’ dire che uccide. Niente cure gratis se se ne sanno gli effetti. Vanno introdotte condanne piu’ alte a chi fa danni sotto l’effetto di droghe

Mantovano: Ci sono limiti ulteriori. Il tossicodipendente che usa eroina piu’ volte si accontentera’? O sara' un criminale per ottenere la droga in piu’? La droga sarebbe come fiume da arginare e controllare? Le droghe sono diventate un fenomeno di massa solo dopo il 1950. E' una scelta culturale. dovuta anche ai gruppi musicali. Abbiamo avuto parlamentari che fumavano spinelli di fronte al parlamento. Bene piu’ elevato non e' la liberta' ma il corretto uso della liberta’. Fa l'esempio del casco per motorini

(l'on.Mantovano dimostra di non conoscere a fondo il problema. Invece di immaginare cosa potrebbe succedere, perche' non rifarsi a quello che succede a Zurigo e altrove? Quanti vanno davvero a procurarsi eroina supplementare, per esempio? E qual'e' la scelta culturale di un tossicodipendente?)

Ascoltatore 5: E' favorevole alle "stanze". Stanze "da macello"? Guardiamo le piazze dove si drogano adesso

Ascoltatore 6: Le stanze sono positive per stare piu’ vicini a queste problematiche. E poi l'uso di eroina e’ in calo. Ora c'e' il problema dell'Ecstasy piu’ un problema. Lungo termine effetti devastanti

Loquenzi: La Stampa riporta che si consiglia su quale parte del braccio bucarsi. E' possibile il riposo dopo l'assunzione della droga. Non da' un senso di resa?

Capezzone: La droga e’ un dramma. Preferibilmente non andrebbe presa. Esiste pero' nella vita il dramma. Come ci poniamo di fronte al tunnel? C’e’ chi se la cava con proclami ideologici. Altri si pongono il problema: come far trovare un equilibrio a queste persone? "Stanze" sono meglio che la morte. Non facciamo ideologia. E poi la comunicazione che tutte le droghe sono uguali e’ sbagliata, e a portato all'esplosione del consumo della cocaina. Bisogna essere concreti. Che fare davanti alle droghe chimiche: combinazioni che cambiano, la mafia che guadagna, il problema che rimane

Mantovano: Le droghe fanno tutte male. E' rriste immaginare una tendina come sostituto del buco in strada. Bisogna dare alternative, come le comunita’.

(bisogna quindi prendere atto che certa ignoranza e ottusita' sono diffuse anche fra i parlamentari. quale medico serio per esempio direbbe che la marijuana e la cocaina fanno male in misura finanche equiparabile? E che dire dei danni provocati dall'alcool? Ma se questo e' il punto di partenze, occorre fare informazione, piu' che persuasione)

Categories
Climate Change English Humor Science Space

Climate change in the Solar System: Earth, Mars…and now Jupiter!

(first published on May 5, 2006)

After doomed Earth, populated by evil sinners driving devilish gas guzzlers, and Mars, where "deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near the south pole have shrunk for three summers in a row", here comes more evidence for Climate Change

This time's Jupiter!

Possible explanations:

1. Ghoulish oil companies have been making a larger mess of the Solar System then previously thought

2. There's lots of SUVs around, and I mean LOTS

3. Hot air from major scientific and political institutions talking about upcoming disasters, has been contaminating ever larger portions of the interplanetary space

4. There is a climate change clique with mental health problems, and they see evidence of global warming everywhere, including pictures of Jupiter and crop circles

5. All those NASA probes to the planets were launched mainly to carry millions of tons of CO2 and give Martians and Jupiters a good heath haze

or

6. Current warming trends on planet Earth are related not much if at all to human activity

Feel free to pick the one you find more likely

Categories
Climate Change English Humor Science Space

New Evidence about Climate Change

(first published on Sep 21, 2005)

scientist also say that deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near the […] south pole have shrunk for three summers in a row. They say this is evidence to suggest climate change is in progress

I say, let's reduce the amount of cheap flights now, before more gullies are formed!

Categories
Italiano Uncategorized

Capo della Polizia Metropolitana di Londra ammette esistenza della Squadra Speciale “Gillette”

Londra, 14 giugno (MNN) – In una mossa a sorpresa, Sir Ian "Spara-l'Innocente" Blair, Capo della Polizia Metropolitana di Londra, ha ammesso oggi che una squadra speciale ultrasegreta della polizia, dal nome in codice "Gillette", ha eseguito il fasullo intervento di anti-terrorismo alle 4 del mattino, quando forze di sicurezza hanno invaso la casa di londinesi onesti e barbuti

Durante il corso dell'intervista, Sir Ian ha ripetuto parecchie volte che, anche se settimane di controlli non avevano rivelato nulla di piu' sospetto nella cucina di quella casa di salsa Vindaloo con pepe addizionale, e broccoli, i due uomini designati come terroristi avevano il tipo sbagliato di capelli facciali

Hanno dovuto quindi essere arrestati e presi a pistolettate^H^H^Hgentilmente intervistati in prigioni segrete^H^H^Hhotel di categoria superiore, non fosse altro che per proteggere la purezza del paesaggio mascellare inglese e la vendita di rasoi.

In altre notizie: un non identificato Capo della Polizia Metropolitana ha difeso la proposta di offrire un viaggio ai Caraibi a chiunque ritenuto sospetto di essere un terrorista, perche' scoperto mentre preparava una bomba, o mentre minacciava di citare in giudizio la Polizia, o mentre non si radeva come dovuto, in particolare dal labbro inferiore in giu'

Categories
Antiterrorism English Humor Policy

London Metropolitan Police’s secret Gillette Squad

London, 14 Jun (MNN) – In an unexpected turn of the events, Sir Ian “Shoot-The-Innocent” Blair, London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has admitted today that a special, ultra-secret police squad codenamed “Gillette” has been behind the botched anti-terror 4am intervention of security forces in the house of honest, beard-sporting Londoners

During the course of the interview, Sir Ian repeated several times that, although weeks of controls had not revealed anything more suspicious in that house’s kitchen than pepper-enhanced Vindaloo sauce and broccoli, still the two men targeted by the operation were grooming the wrong kind of facial hair

 

They had to be stopped and shot^H^H^Hgently interviewed in nice secret service prisons^H^H^Hfirst-class hotels, if only to protect the purity of the English maxillar landscape, and the sale of razors..

In unrelated news: an unidentified Metropolitan Police Commissioner has defended the proposal to offer a Caribbean holiday to anybody remotely suspected of being a terrorist, because caught while either preparing a bomb, or threatening to sue the Police, or not shaving appropriately, especially from the lower lip downwards

Categories
English Humanity Innovation Moon Space

W.W.W. MOON? The Why, What and When of a Permanent Manned Lunar Colony

Presented at the Human Future and Space Symposium – 28 Apr 2004 – The British Interplanetary Society

(an edited version has been published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 58, No. 3/4 March/April 2005, pp 131-137)

The aim of this presentation is to define the basic reasons, means and timescale for the establishment of a permanent, manned lunar settlement. Going beyond a review of the vast existing literature on the subject, the underlying goal is a call into action (=launches) to all people and organisations involved and interested in the exploration and use of the Moon:
· the BIS
· the Planetary Society
· all Moon-related Societies (such as the Artemis Society)
· every single Lunar and Planetary scientist and
· for reasons that frankly should be obvious to everyone, also the Mars Society

Introduction

Structure

This work is structured into three main sections, plus introduction and conclusions:
· Why go to the Moon? What are the reasons for sending humans?
· What are the technologies needed? Where will the settlements be located?
· When will the human race go back to the Moon? And when can we expect a permanent lunar settlement to be established by?

Background

A few points of note to explain the main assumptions: first of all by "human settlement" it is intended a self-sustaining permanently-manned colony, inhabited not only by scientists and astronauts. In the sense of being opposed to the idea of a "lunar outpost", the structure must be as far as possible from the old concept of "habitable tin cans" ('a la International Space Station).
Furthermore, there have been centuries of Moon-based dreams, for the past five decades or so with some technological flavour [1]. Practically, we do have the Apollo missions, with an equivalent extra-vehicular activity of around 7dd field work at most (more like 3 days, mostly by non-scientists) [2]. Apart from that, and some Soviet missions, it has all been a matter of dreams. The present work aims instead to be all about being pragmatic in the extreme, keeping also in mind that there IS an obvious conflict-of-interest: as one of the Author's goals is to be a member of the lunar settlement; thus helping oneself while helping humanity make use of the Moon.

Issues and Obstacles

Pragmatism means starting from the obstacles between us and the permanent lunar settlement. Very briefly, where is the interest in a new lunar adventure? [3]:

· There is no shortage of grand plans on paper (for example a Lunar Hilton Hotel) and of good ideas about living on the moon, left to collect dust whilst new projects are sketched (thus lowering ever more the likelihood that any of them is put in practice.
· Whatever plan is put forward, it will have to cope with the fact that space flight has always served a political mixture of civilian and military purposes [3]. And when the Apollo lost its political rationale, it was fully cancelled [4]
· A recent example is the amount of duplicated efforts in the R&D for the ISS, or the sorry story behind the stored "GoreSat" having had the wrong sponsor at the wrong time
· At this point in time, there is no political "lunar constituency" [5]. Some quote "Been there, Done that": since Apollo has shown that we can achieve the goal of reaching the Moon, there is little reason to do it again
· Despite earlier ideas there is no strategic military importance in a Moon base [1]. And the scientific environment has not been united (as reported for example by Spudis [6] about the Clementine Mission, and in the obnoxious, baffling "Mars vs. Moon" saga)
· Finally, the attributes usually associated the Lunar environment include hostile, harsh, extreme and dead. As a consequence it is generally believed that it is "very difficult to set up a base there" [7]. In other words, the Moon IS seen as a single patch of rather uninteresting desolated land. It can be explained with the dominating grey hues from the Apollo surface TV transmissions, but still as we will see it is based on a misunderstimation of all the Moon can provide.

Challenges

The establishment of a Lunar colony will include challenges beyond the resolution of the issues listed above:

· Permanence implies a sustainable Lunar economy. But without practical experience the field of lunar economics can only remain in the theoretical space
· There is a non-zero chance that simply the return will be indefinitely postponed. What will that mean [8], and how can we minimise that risk?

Pragmatism on the other hand cannot mean keeping a negative outlook. Let's remember that whatever task we want to achieve, it is by all means much simpler than what presented at the time when President Kennedy promised to land a man on the moon and return him safely within the decade [9].


WhyWhat makes the Moon unique? What are the reasons to go back to our natural satellite, and why with humans? For some reason, those reasons are not actually obvious, despite countless books, articles, conferences in the past.

One could argue that if the reasons were that clear, somebody would have done it already.

Astronomy

There is something that really makes the Moon a unique place in the whole Universe: the Far Side, permanently shielded from Earth by hundreds of kilometres of rock. There is no other place anywhere else that combines radio silence from the cacophony of terrestrial transmission and access to atmosphere- and ionosphere-free skies in the absence of a magnetic field.
The lunar Far Side is thus one of the best places to investigate what is invisible to terrestrial astronomy, that is most of the EM spectrum [10][11]. One example is in the very-low frequency bands [12], where we literally have never collected any data at all.
An advantage of using the lunar surface over orbit-based telescopes is also the possibility of setting up large interferometers without having to develop extremely precise formation-flying controls.
Another example that has been suggested is neutrino astronomy, especially with energies between 1GeV and 10TeV, where the background noise is reduced on the Moon compared to the Earth, Whole-sun neutrino observation would be possible [13], a rather important activity given the somewhat still quite open-to-debate theories about the amounts and types of solar neutrinos.

Lunar, Terrestrial and Solar studies

Obviously, a settlement on the Moon would also provide a great opportunity to understand more about the Moon itself. After all only a few acres have been explored in detail, so there is still plenty that needs to be studied. We miss information both about peculiarities (what is exactly the bright soil at "Reiner Gamma" made of?) and the overall conditions on the Moon (e.g., if the Moon's rocks have been formed in absence of water, what was/is the composition of volcanic gases [14]?). By having a lunar settlement, we can understand that and more, without having to bring rocks and samples back to Earth [15].
Those studies need not only have a local relevance. Apart from the Moon being as good a base as any for the discovery and tracking of Near-Earth Object, due to the amount of data collected during the 1960's the Moon is THE reference for planetary science [16] [17], a differentiated body with significant episodes of volcanism and plenty of crater types, where very little (if anything) is changing now.

There are even open Earth geology questions that can be better answered on our natural satellite. We do have a practical result in this field already. The post-Apollo mainstream lunar origin theory (an impact between proto-Earth and a Mars-sized body) does explain the excess iron in our own siderophile mantle [18].
One of the most interesting, relevant and important questions to ask on the Moon is, has Earth undergone recurring asteroidal/cometary "bombardments"? This has also biological consequences. Whilst traces are hard to find on our planet, the verdict should be well preserved in the lunar soil, starting with the impact crater frequency curve [19][20][21].
The same lunar soil's regolith contains also an at-least-billion-year-long record of the solar activity [22] [23] [24] that would help a lot in the understanding of the behaviour and evolution of our star. Just as well, buried regolith deposits are expected to preserve traces of the very young Sun [25]. Still, no need to stop there: the regolith of permanently shadowed craters at either Lunar pole may contain our best chance to read about the history of the Galaxy.

Exploration/exploitation of the Solar System

Thanks to its low surface gravity, the Moon can be considered a natural interplanetary spaceport. It is much less energy-consuming to go from there than from the Earth to any place in the Solar System (apart from terrestrial surface), including, paradoxically, to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) [26] [27].
The Moon can then become a source of materials for the exploration and exploitation of the Solar System [28], including the classical example of asteroidal mining.
Given its proximity to our planet, launch opportunities occur quite often, a matter of weeks compared to years to reach even NEO's: it appears then logical to test stuff such as landing gear and autonomic robotic exploration on the Moon instead of waiting months and months to get the right alignment just to launch towards another planetary body [29].
Economical to reach, economical to land onto and depart from, and with frequent launch windows, the Moon's main strategic scientific and technological value may indeed lie in where it is [30]: "near but not here".
As an example, the Moon is a much better place than Earth to bring back Martian dust and rocks in a Sample Return mission, as chances of contamination of the specimen by Earth living organisms would be dramatically reduced (just as the risk of any Martian life to roam unchecked our planet) [31].

Geopolitics of the Moon

But even if the Moon is indeed unique for certain undertakings, our only effective example of its exploration is the 1960's Space Race between the USA and the USSR, when the "why" was purely a matter of political prestige to be gained by one superpower over the other.
We all know that race was won by the Americans. Little more than twenty years later there was no USSR left at all. From our 2004 point of view it can be argued that the USA effectively sealed their commanding status over the rest of the world by achieving the Apollo 11 landing.
If that is true, the first nation to return to the Moon will then either keep or destroy a huge chunk of American prestige.
If the next moonwalker will NOT be an American, commentators will have enough to seriously start talking about, and people to seriously start believing into witnessing the "End of the Empire". Just like in 1969, it is obvious that the entire geopolitical situation on Earth will appear wholly different if, for example, a local Chinese crew were to welcome in 2030 the first NASA manned mission to the Moon since December 1972.
Curiously enough, the present stalled situation, with the American Lunar capability dismantled and the potentially Moon-bound Saturn V machines gathering rust in open-air museums for political reasons, strongly resembles the 1400's Imperial Chinese Navy, destroyed by the Emperor after having explored (and effectively subjugated) much of the Indian Ocean decades before the Portuguese [32].
We all know that "race" was won by the Europeans. Little more than three hundred years later there was no Chinese imperial dominance left at all.

Social significance

Those apparently heartless political calculi of national prestige are (also) based on the very tangible social impact of "adventurous" manned space flight (i.e. the one where the astronauts effectively do go somewhere apart from orbiting Earth).
No better evidence about it could come than from Buzz Aldrin's own words when being shown a recording of the TV broadcast of the first lunar landing: "We [Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins] missed the whole thing". Grown-up commentators became so emotional to literally have to wipe off their tears in front of the first examples of planetary-wide audiences. The USSR's Pravda couldn't help printing the news in its front page, however small. Space exploration with humans is an endeavour that fascinates and enthuses all of us. It brings hope and shows that it is possible to "do the impossible". Generations have been born already for whom the proverbially impossible "flying to the Moon" is a reality.

Those generations are as sophisticated as any, though. As shown by the cool reception of President Bush's space initiatives, it will be much harder to convince them to go back to the Moon without a very healthy dose of pragmatism.

Humans or Robots

As quite often heard, humans ARE indeed costlier and riskier than robots. Environment control is easier in an automatic probe, there is no need to carry food not to recycle waste, etc. etc.
Still, in the history of Lunar exploration it would be hard to argue the unique advantages that humans bring to fieldwork [33] [34].
Take for a start Apollo 16: it was a mission conceived, designed and organised to collect volcanic rocks from an area consensually believed to be volcanic. It wasn't, but the astronauts were quickly able to focus themselves on collecting what was needed to understand the local soil [35]. Would it have been the same for a robot programmed specifically to investigate volcanic rocks?
Another example: the so-called KREEP rocks, unexpected, new and enigmatic collections of Rare-Earths [36]: would a rover (even as sophisticated as those in use in the XXI century) have been able to bring that back? Just as for Apollo 17's "orange soil", hardly a feature of any orbital mapping or automated lander's photograph.
Robots, of the kind feasible in the foreseeable future, can only do what they are programmed to do, so they will only examine and report according to their limited set of instructions…consider the Galileo space probe, designed to study Jupiter: as it passed by Earth in the early 1990's, it managed to get only hints of the existence of biological life (as gases in the atmosphere) and technological activity (as radiowave emissions).
Combine this with Mark Twain's musings: "there is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.". Years can be wasted (and important data remain uncollected) simply by building and sending robotic probes built around the wrong conjectures.
The only practical way to discover and understand something new (apart from chance) is by sending people [37].
We can generalise that people are needed where research would otherwise be prohibitively difficult [38]. And as the recent debate about repairing/upgrading the Hubble shows, humans are still too hard to substitute when there is the need for a complex upgrading or repair of instruments. From a Moon base, astronauts would be well placed to reach the new generation of telescopes built for one of the Sun-Earth Lagrange points [38]. Sure, their presence may degrade the natural lunar vacuum, but even with minimal precautions we have reasons to believe it will still be better than on Earth [39]. Finally, a Moon settlement is an alternative rest/rescue station from LEO operations [40].

Commercial Moon

Clearly the full-scale colonisation of the Moon may start and be much encouraged if feasible commercial reasons could be defined.
We have already mentioned the mining of materials for LEO and for solar system exploration: this could include the rather easy-to-extract lunar soil oxygen [41], ready to be sold to space transportation systems unwilling to carry it all from Earth surface. There has been much talk for years about extracting the exceedingly rare Helium-3 from the lunar soil as clean fuel for nuclear fusion reactors [42], but this may be classified as a non-reason as the first customers won't materialise for five or more decades.
Given the fascination astronautics has with the public, with the right kind of infrastructure in place there will undoubtedly be lunar movies, documentaries (e.g. IMAX's documentary about the ISS). And if costs for Earth launches and return trips will be lowered by a factor of 10 to a 100, tourists [43] will be able to start travelling to a Moon offering new kinds of sports, the chance of flying using one's own strength, and acrobatic shows featuring "impossible" feats. Furthermore, it will be in a low-g environment that would benefit all and especially those helped by hydrotherapy.
We do have an example of a one-g town built out of nowhere and quite good at self-sustainment at one-g, and it is called Las Vegas.
In the wake of plots of lunar land allegedly being sold on Earth, a market for memorabilia is expected, including moon dust, moon rocks, but also recovered items such as Apollo 16's forgotten film.

Legal environment

Short of transforming the Moon into some kind of frontier town, the settlement there by humans and the development of a lunar economy will need a legal framework agreed and understood by people and nations and companies alike. We will analyse this in next section. For the time being let's consider some legal reasons for going to the Moon.
In fact, many points about the legal conditions of all space activities need to be clarified, and historically those clarifications have come out from specific initiatives. For example the American effort at flying a satellite during the International Geophysical Year 1957 was sponsored by the government as a way of setting a precedent regarding over-flights [3] (and it worked). However trivial it may appear, there is an ongoing court case about the right by a certain company to claim ownership of the surface of asteroid Eros, and as such to be able to collect "parking fees" from NASA, that landed there one of its probes. Not to mention (at least for now) the Lunar Embassy, self-proclaimed owner of all planets and satellites apart from Earth, and the counterclaim by somebody asking for an "illumination fee" as sole owner of the Sun. Hardly stuff worth involving some Supreme Court somewhere, and yet the simple fact that all of this may even happen is the clearest sign that legal precedents and agreements need to be set.
And the longer they will not be, the less serious the whole idea of space travel will appear.

Issues

As yet nobody has been on the Moon for more than 30 years. All the reasons above have been somehow effectively nullified by counter-reasons. Among those, changing political climates especially in the United States (there is little if anything worth mentioning about other nations anyway). Bush Sr.'s space initiative was rapidly forgotten by the newly instated Clinton. And of course we are living in the shadow of Nixon's decision to concentrate on developing the Space Shuttle thereby making obsolete the successful Saturn V and shortening by several hundred thousand miles the range of manned space travel.
For years much has been done about humanity's fascination with (if not obsession about) finding life [44], thereby undermining all plans about returning to the Moon. Maybe it is only now that the idea that one needs not promote a single target for astronautics to expand: let's hope that NASA's exploration culture will not become a version of "All eggs in One Mars". On the side of lunar and planetary scientists there have been few examples of effective, politically aware and timely pressure on. At the time of the cancellation of Apollo 18 and 19, it can actually be argued that had the scientists lobbied Senators and Representatives early enough with the strength displayed when protesting against the decision, one or both those missions would have actually happened.
Or perhaps it was the Apollo era to be uniquely special. Within this interpretation, before and after Apollo the Moon [45] has simply been neglected because [46]:
– too close
– too easy
– too dead
– too "well-known"


WhatTechnical areas that will have to be dealt with to establish a permanent lunar settlement include travel and construction technologies, but also organisational, financial, legal and political aspects. Also, who do we expect will inhabit the Moon? And where will the settlement be built?
The following section analyses some of the issues involved: anyway, as the Apollo experience shows, what will actually happen will depend on circumstances simply unforeseeable (e.g. Saturn's S-1C's size being dictated by the make-up of the factory where it was going to be built [47]), including apparently insurmountable problems that will be solved when necessary.
As such, the minutiae of the technical details are not warranted the attention given instead to the overall outline of the what.

Technology

Given the accumulated experience it may appear more likely to be NASA leading the way towards a return to the Moon. President Bush's plan described in December 2003 does indeed call for a manned mission after a series of robotic rovers. It remains to be seen if this plan will go the way of so many others: clearly there is still a difference between recurring, partisan calls to space and a grand vision outlined as a fight for national survival by a young, prematurely killed President. With NASA following orders more than leading consensus on space exploration, it will be a hard call for presidential staff changing every 4 or 8 years to maintain the same policy about space flight for many years in a row.
How about forgetting the politicians then? Private space travel [48] is likely to be somewhere in the middle of its infancy, with the famous X-Prize perhaps going to be won by 2005 or 2006. Some companies are already planning cargo flights to the Moon and appears ready for the undertaking as soon as the right number of clients is achieved: Transorbital's Trailblazer and Orbital Development's MoonCrash. Definitely primitive stuff compared to a 1969 human landing, but no doubt progress will be made quickly were a viable entrepreneurial case be made (or found…), for example in providing services to the lunar settlement, starting with a detailed lunar map.
Space travel aside, a lunar settlement will have necessarily to be tested at first as a terrestrial mock-up [49]. For the beginning it may be appealing to simply re-use ISS technology, with slight changes to accommodate a non-zero gravity environment. But the endeavour will be viable only by development of ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilisation): in other words, transport the building machines, not the goods [50]. Several studies indicate that lunar regolith can be used for construction, apart from extracting basic materials such as oxygen and iron. Water for making lunar cement and other manufacturing purposes may come from polar craters if confirmed (and if reachable): otherwise there may be a case for a thorough investigation of available small-size, water-rich NEO's.
Surface and local transportation of goods and people may involve ballistic trajectories on the airless Moon, and/or building of regolith-resistant railroads. It is also not difficult to imagine way-stations on Lagrange points acting as transmitters for some kind of lunar GPS (low-orbiting satellites not being viable due to uneven mass concentrations Mascons near the lunar crust)
Other important details include telecommunications (likely of the photonic variety wherever possible); power generation and distribution, with polar or orbital solar generators perhaps as first tests of microwave energy transmission across vast distances before implementing that technology on Earth.

Inhabitants

Much has been made of the fact that of 12 moonwalkers so far, 11 were not scientists (and the only one has been effectively sent at the last available opportunity). Apart from the very beginning, it will be difficult to maintain such a disparity in favour of professional astronauts. Next to the scientists there will likely be other service personnel (again, not only astronauts), all of them likely in monthly or quarterly shifts. With the settlement becoming more suitable to human habitation, visionaries/entrepreneurs will then lead the way to tourists, explorers, TV crews, etc….and to dubious characters, including bounty hunters (why expect men on the Moon behave much better than on Earth?)

Organisation & Financing

If the settlement will not be almost entirely devoted to political considerations, it will be run by an international public/private consortium [51] among all those entities aiming at benefiting from using the Moon. There are several possible examples on Earth, such as having a "Lunar Port Authority" or even a Lunar Economic Development Area [52]. It has been proposed to finance the enterprise by issuing bonds, however in general creative and effective ideas in this field (short of getting the taxpayer foot the vast majority of the bill) are still in short supply.

Legal and Political structure

It has been argued that if Intelsat is the appropriate precedent, there are no additional legal problems for lunar profiting [53]. However, as said above there are several possible legal hurdles to pass, including the "land ownership titles" sold by the "Lunar Embassy" to around 40,000 clients.
However idiotic the situation may appear, only a small percentage of the 40,000 would be enough to warrant some huge legal headache to any Lunar Port Authority, unless the related treaties are amended according to common sense.
Other legal bounds make much more sense. It should be clear to everybody working on the Moon that the unique local environment should be left as much untouched as possible [54], at least for scientific reasons [55].
This is a rather difficult endeavour. Apart from conservation of the historical sites, the extremely tenuous atmosphere is easy to be disturbed. It was for example doubled in mass by the exhausts and leaks of the Apollo missions.
It should also not be dismissed the call for the "conservation of the regolith": after all it has taken billions of years to "create the regolith"…as such it shouldn't be simply considered raw material or disturbing garbage. Again, it is all going to mean a revision of the international laws and politics about the Moon. At last, we may even get a new Lunar Treaty [56].

As for the local decisional structure, the best example appears the flexibility of the Antarctic base [57]. Hopefully certain ideas about social engineering, like attempts at founding the "perfect community" on the Moon, will simply remain on paper (or rather isolated)

Physiological considerations

It has been computed [58] that on average a maximum 20% of time should be spent by humans outside the protection of a minimum 4 meters of regolith. This should not be difficult to achieve, and there is anyway a good deal experience on the physiological needs of people, thanks to the work on the ISS.
Debates flare at times on the effects on muscles and bones of low-g compared to the known issues after long exposure to zero-g: a continuative presence on the 1/6g Moon would answer many questions, with implications including the planning of human activity in the 1/3g of Mars.
Some consideration (again not wholly unrelated to a Mars trip) should be also given towards making the atmosphere of the base as dust-free as possible [59]

Location of the settlement

Everything considered, the initial location is likely to be polar or equatorial, the only areas where orbit access is every 2 hours [60]. Traverses between pre-delivered rest-stations (like in Antarctica) could be organised to explore more [61].
And while it is true that in general an equatorial base would be easier and safer to reach from Earth, on the other hand a polar location is preferable, as it means smaller temperature variations, and probably water, with half of the sky (maybe even the Sun) continuously visible [62] [63]

Underground Habitable Structures

A particularly interesting area of study concerns the establishment of inhabited structures several meters below ground level.
Those are ipso facto shielded from both cosmic rays and UV radiation. There is little cross-contamination with the surface. They are protected from impacts, and harder to sabotage. The bedrock is easily accessible, for example to anchor equipment. More lightweight materials can be used and construction much simplified. Plastics need not be protected from UV degradation. Finally, such a structure is repeatable in the establishment of colonies and outposts anywhere in the Solar System.
On the Moon, underground structures could be housed, at least initially, in one of the "lava tubes" [64][65], of which there are many [66], some hundreds of meters long and with 10 meters or more of roofing material. Given the relative size with similar features on Earth, it may even be expected whole huge cave-like "tubes" to be available somewhere on the Moon. Alternatively, there have been already investigations on melting-while-drilling techniques [67], or even excavation through detonation (given the absence of water in the rocks, it is expected that the roofs of artificial caves will not collapse as it would happen on Earth) [68].

P.O.L.E. Peak Of Light Eternal

The P.O.L.E. concept (Peak Of Light Eternal, poetic licence taken) combines the advantaged above in the establishment of an underground polar settlement.
Possible locations depend on a detailed mapping of the polar regions: for the time being they may be the rim of the Peary Crater, or the flanks of the Shackleton Crater at the lunar South Pole. An earlier version was described as a 5-mile-long structure, 3200ft wide and 1600ft tall [69].
With plenty of space available, P.O.L.E. inhabitants would live in large Earth-like caves illuminated as if in the full glare of the Sun. They would not have to continuously look at the Earth outside their windows, and would not experience as much "longing back home" (as for example some Apollo astronauts). They would not be reminded of the Moon "desolation": still, the Earth, the lunar surface, the far-side would be available at short distance.


WhenThe science of astronautical forecasting is very imprecise, with grand targets being notable mostly for their continuously postponed delivery targets (again, the only exception is Apollo). Using past timescales as guidance, there is all the chance that we are in for a very long wait. How can we speed things up?

Current Initiatives

The latest "American President" Plan includes an Orbiter in 2008 and a Lander in 2009 [70]. It should be noted that at least 5 years are expected between the decision and the landing, despite several orbiters and several landers having been sent toward the Moon already (and despite several rovers having landed or getting readied for a Mars landing). General consensus is to send robots to explore the surface, without people at least for another decade [71]. On the private front, Transorbital appears ready to go as soon as the financial situation is right, and others are claiming to be more or less near a launch.

Lessons from past estimates

But it is hard to believe in any published timescale of space exploration as for decades almost every estimate has been proven very wrong, starting from several American President space initiatives (including the Space Shuttle), all the way down to grand promises by folded companies (e.g. Luna Corp, Applied Space Resources).
Truth is that without the USSR there is no race [72], so aims are achieved too late and over budget…if they are achieved.

Infrastructure development

All in all, we can only expect (very) long timescales.
Even if a minimal infrastructure has to be thought-through and readied, there is no sign as yet of an effective long-term exploration planning. For example the Martian satellite Deimos is a neglected body despite its extremely easy accessibility [73] and the fact that Mars exploration and a manned Mars mission are generally considered much more interesting [74] for the public than anything the Moon can offer.
If the politically baffling, even naïve Mars First vs. Moon First debate will be considered a zero-sum game both goals will suffer, with the Lunar projects being most neglected.
And yet, consider also that Mars Society's brilliant efforts and high visibility have brought lots of attention but little practical return on their ultimate goal: there is no plan for a manned Mars trip for a long time to come.
How much more difficult a Lunar equivalent, as evident in the sadly sterile campaigning by moonwalkers Aldrin and Schmitt?

The above can only suggest an even slower implementation of any return-to-the-moon plan. We can reasonably assume that, in the absence of another version of the Space Race, either between nations or between corporations, there will not be any attempt at human landing, let alone at starting the construction of a lunar base before the end of next decade.

Timescale shortening

With forecasting after 2020 as true as meaningless, and too many reasons to go to the Moon to simply consider the whole situation hopeless, let's give a target for the establishment of a permanent manned settlement by 2069 as a tribute to Apollo 11.

Still, there is the possibility of accelerating things by carefully using the acquired experience. A good example is the Clementine mission, designed and built by a small team in 20 months instead of several years.
Even if carrying "sub-optimal" experiments [75], Clementine has shown what can be done when delivery time is key. In general, the less the effort in developing new technologies for new missions, the shorter the time-to-launch (compare to Clementine the years wasted in developing the never-flown X-33).
One may even argue that nothing will really happen as long as Astronautics remains the realm of untamed R&D, with every new mission breaking new grounds: it would be interesting to see if research engineers will prevail over scientists and entrepreneurs [76]. In the meanwhile we can acknowledge that the only means to reach the ISS is the rather old technology of the Soyuz.

Side-effects of long timescales

With long timescales expected, we have to consider how the situation will look different several decades into the future.
Robots will of course get better. Advancement in robotics and telerobotics could effectively nullify some of the "why" points, decreasing the chances to develop the human colonisation of outer space by removing some weight from the whole concept of manned space exploration.
From this point of view a push for having humans explore the Solar System as soon as possible, starting with the Moon, is of the outmost importance.

In any case, it is difficult to imagine any robot becoming better than a human in field studies and the investigation of the unknown.


ConclusionsSome open issues still need to be solved. What will be the economy of permanent settlements? How often do we want to use the Moon? (This would have consequences on the choice of expendable vs. reusable vehicles). What will be the security needs of a Lunar base? (a whole new subject to investigate)

Negatives considerations remain aplenty. Sarcastically, some have said that we should go to the Moon by stacking up all the papers written about how to go to the Moon: or perhaps, all future attempts will be buried by their own bibliography.
In the meanwhile humans are developing astronautical experience by working in the wrong place, disturbing zero-g experiments in LEO instead of exploring beyond Earth orbit [77]. The Space station is replicating the Shuttle in over-promising, over-running and under- (or even un-) delivering.

All more the reason to consider the "why" the most fundamental point about establishing a permanent manned colony on the Moon.
The "what" is anyway heavily subordinate to the "reasons". The "when" depends on our capability at making an effort to achieve our goals instead of developing technologies for their own sake.

As such it is important to prioritise lunar action over plans and studies: enough with optimal missions, big probes, complex new, perhaps too advanced technologies…

Just do it!

As it is hopefully going to happen thanks to initiatives such as the Artemis Society and SpaceFuture's space tourism plans.

Is that going to herald a cultural change in the public space industry as well [78]? Will all the people, societies, companies involved in Space be able to build public interest into a long-term solar system exploration plan, postpone if not outright stop public squabbling and get into the business of actually going to the Moon?

With robots able to do and humans able to explore, and years needed simply to wait for a launch window outside the Earth-Moon system, lunar astronautics may as well be a way of keeping astronautics going instead of waiting for uncertain Mars missions while wasting away making LEO orbits.

Perhaps one day this will finally start to happen: maybe an innocent will rise and people will say, in the words of Bridget O'Donnell, "she didn't know it couldn't be done, so she went ahead and did it"


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[2] M J Cintala et al, 'Advanced Geologic Exploration Supported by a Lunar Base: a Traverse across the Imbrium/Procellarum Region of the Moon', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p224

[3] A Roland, 'Twin Paradoxes of the Space Age', Nature 392, 143-145 (12 Mar 1998)

[4] W E Burrows, 'This New Ocean', Random House, 1998, p432

[5] W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, prologue 2

[6] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996

[7] B McNamara, 'Into the Final Frontier', Harcourt, 2000, p335

[8] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p247

[9] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p54

[10] D Whitehouse, 'The Moon – A Biography', Headline, 2001, p295

[11] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p200

[12] J D Douglas et al, 'A Very Low Frequency Radio Astronomy Observatory on the Moon', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p301

[13] M M Shapiro et al, 'Celestial Sources of High-Energy Neutrinos as viewed from a Lunar Observatory', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p329

[14] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p113

[15] L A Haskin et al, 'Geochemical and Petrological Sampling and Studies at the First Moon Base', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p199

[16] G J Taylor, 'The Need for a Lunar Base: Answering Basic Questions about Planetary Science', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p190

[17] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p145

[18] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p166

[19] D Whitehouse, 'The Moon – A Biography', Headline, 2001, p265

[20] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p106

[21] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p106

[22] H Y Mc Sween, Jr., 'Stardust to Planets', St. Martin's Press, 1993, p136

[23] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p196

[24] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p106

[25] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p115

[26] P W Keaton, 'A Moon Base/Mars Base Transportation Depot', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p144

[27] B M Cordell, 'The Moons of Mars: A Source of Water for Lunar Bases and LEO', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p814

[28] P W Keaton, 'A Moon Base/Mars Base Transportation Depot', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p141

[29] E A King, 'Mars: The Next Major Goal?', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p798

[30] W J Hickel, 'In Space: One World United', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p18

[31] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999

[32] A Krantowitz, 'An Opportunity for Openness', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p22

[33] G J Taylor, 'The Need for a Lunar Base: Answering Basic Questions about Planetary Science', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p189

[34] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p232

[35] A Chaikin, 'A Man on the Moon', Penguin Books, 1998, p492

[36] L A Haskin et al, 'Geochemical and Petrological Sampling and Studies at the First Moon Base', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p207

[37] A Chaikin, 'A Man on the Moon', Penguin Books, 1998, p494

[38] R Angel, 'Space: Telescopes Reveal the Way Forward', Nature, 2003, 373 (27 Mar 2003)

[39] G A Landis, 'Degradation of the Lunar Vacuum by a Moon Base', in Vol. 21, No. 3, 183-187 (1990), 'http://www.islandone.org/Settlements/DegradeLunarVacuum.html', Acta Astronautica, 1990, p

[40] B McNamara, 'Into the Final Frontier', G18Harcourt, 2000, p337

[41] M B Duke et al, 'Strategies for a Permanent Lunar Base', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p62

[42] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999, p302

[43] P Collins, 'The Future of Lunar Tourism', International Lunar Conference, Waikoloa, Hawaii Invited Speech, 21 November 2003

[44] W E Burrows, 'This New Ocean', Random House, 1998, p435

[45] D T Vaniman et al, 'Afterword', in G H Heiken et al, 'Lunar Sourcebook', Cambridge University Press, 1991, p634

[46] W E Burrows, 'This New Ocean', Random House, 1998, p434

[47] M Wade, 'Nova', Astronautix.com, 2003

[48] D Whitehouse, 'The Moon – A Biography', Headline, 2001, p292

[49] B Finney, 'Lunar Base: Learning to Live in Space', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p754

[50] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999

[51] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999, p285

[52] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999, p112

[53] A L Moore, 'Legal Responses for Lunar Bases and Space Activities in the 21st Century', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p738

[54] R Briggs et al, 'Environmental Considerations and Waste Planning on the Lunar Surface', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p428

[55] D T Vaniman et al, 'Afterword', in G H Heiken et al, 'Lunar Sourcebook', Cambridge University Press, 1991, p635

[56] D Whitehouse, 'The Moon – A Biography', Headline, 2001, p285

[57] A Lawler, 'Lessons from the Past: Toward a Long-Term Space Policy', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p762

[58] R Silberberg et al, 'Radiation Transport of Cosmic Ray Nuclei in Lunar Material and Radiation Doses', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p668

[59] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999, Appendix J

[60] J D Burke, 'Merits of a Lunar Polar Base Location', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p83

[61] M J Cintala et al, 'Advanced Geologic Exploration Supported by a Lunar Base: a Traverse across the Imbrium/Procellarum Region of the Moon', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p223

[62] J D Burke, 'Merits of a Lunar Polar Base Location', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p77

[63] D Whitehouse, 'The Moon – A Biography', Headline, 2001, p289

[64] F Hoerz, 'Lava Tubes: Potential Shelters for Habitats', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p405

[65] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', Wiley, 1999, p12

[66] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p106

[67] J C Rowley et al, 'In-situ Rock Melting applied to Lunar Base Construction and for Exploration Drilling and Coring on the Moon', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p465

[68] K A Ehricke, 'Lunar Industrialization and Settlement – Birth of Polyglobal Civilization', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p846

[69] K A Ehricke, 'Lunar Industrialization and Settlement – Birth of Polyglobal Civilization', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p840

[70] The Editors, 'Breaking Out of Orbit', Scientific American, April 2004

[71] D Schrunk et al, 'The Moon – Resources, Future Development and Colonization', in , '', Wiley, 1999, Appendix R

[72] H H Schmitt, 'A Millennium Project – Mars 2000', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p792

[73] B O'Leary, 'Rationales for Early Human Missions to Phobos and Deimos', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p804

[74] E A King, 'Mars: The Next Major Goal?', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p797

[75] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996

[76] A Chaikin, 'A Man on the Moon', Penguin Books, 1998, p638

[77] E Teller, 'Thoughts on a Lunar Base', in W W Mendell, ed, 'Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century', Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985, p25

[78] P D Spudis, 'The Once and Future Moon', Smithsonian, 1996, p245

Categories
Cambiamento Climatico Italiano

Gli Stupidi e il Riscaldamento Globale

Lettera aperta a Richard Littlemore di DeSmogBlog

Caro Richard

Tanto quanto apprezzo il tuo blog per il reporting della conferenza Environmental Wars, cui non ho potuto attendere, trovo il tuo blog "Pagliacci" non poco una vergogna, con tutti quegli ingiustificati ad-hominems

Se davvero credi in una crisi imminente del clima, non ha senso per te appannare il dibattito con tentativi di umorismo poco divertenti.

Come conseguenza ci saranno altrettanto poco divertenti blog riguardo gli "sciocchi a mente chiusa che credono al riscaldamento globale" e così via

In altre parole, le tue affermazioni non porteranno ne' te, ne' nessun altro, ne' il clima del pianeta da nessuna parte

Potrebbero anzi essere usate da qualcuno per "dimostrare" che "la lobby del riscaldamento globale" non ha argomenti da discussione

Confidando che non abbandonerai il tuo lavoro per darti al teatro buffo, continuero' a leggere il tuo blog per opinioni più interessanti

Categories
Climate Change English

Fools and Global Warming

Open Letter to Richard Littlemore of DeSmogBlog 

Dear Richard

As much as I appreciate your blog for its reporting of the Environmental Wars conference, that I quite sadly was unable to attend, I find the "Jesters" entry more than a bit shameful, with all its unwarranted ad-hominems

If you really believe in an upcoming Climate Crisis, it makes no sense to cloud the debate with your unfunny attempts at humor.

They'll just elicit just as (un-)funny remarks on other blogs and website, about the "close-minded fools" of the "global warming lobby", and so on and so forth

iow, they won't take you or anybody or the planet's climate anywhere

They could actually be used by some to "demonstrate" that the "global warming lobby" has no arguments

Trusting you won't give up your day job for stand-up comedy, I'll keep looking in your site for more substantial opinions by you

Categories
Cambiamento Climatico Italiano Scienza

Il Cambiamento Climatico e la Skeptics Society – prime impressioni

L’american Skeptics Society ha appena tenuto il congresso “Environmental Wars” (“Guerre Ambientali”) dedicato a “dibattere se l’attività umana realmente sta cambiando il clima del pianeta”

I migliori link (in inglese) per ottenere le informazioni sul congresso sembrano finora essere:

Da scettico di lunga data, posso soltanto essere felice di vedere che nientemeno che Michael Shermer e’ stato fino ad alcune settimane fa poco disposto a entrare il gregge del Cambiamento Climatico. Spero basti questo come prova che non sono pagato da diaboliche compagnie petrolifere nello scrivere le mie opinioni: particolarmente quando dubito delle affermazioni piu’ catastrofiche

In ogni caso: dopo aver letteralmente letto tutto ai link summentovati, la mia impressione è che il dibattito rimane come polarizzato come sempre, con ogni partecipante disposto solo a vedere quello che vuole

Tutto sommato, potrebbe essere un problema di comunicazione

Alcuni semplicemente rifiutano di essere guidati come buoi, sottomessi intellettualmente da storie spaventevoli e descrizioni di disastri imminenti

Altri pensano che quei disastri siano prossimi venturi, ma non riescono a comunicarlo senza ricorrere al vetusto “la fine del mondo e’ vicina! pentitevi!”

E così, avendo realizzato che il loro messaggio non ha l’effetto previsto, questi altri provano a forzare ancor di piu’, e gia’ che ci sono buttano insulti qua e la’

E quindi questa e’ la mia richiesta a chi dice che “Il Cambiamento Climatico e’ terribile, facciamo qualcosa subito!”: Per favore cambiate la maniera del vostro messaggio. Quello che fate adesso non e’ il modo di condurre un dibattito intelligente. Ed non ha senso se volete ottenere i risultati

Se realmente credete di essere nel giusto, trovate un modo per ottenere cosa volete

E a proposito: non dite “il dibattito è superato“. Non funziona neanche quello

Categories
Climate Change English Environment Politics Science Skepticism

Climate Change & The Skeptics Society – first impressions

The Skeptics Society has just held its Environmental Wars conference, to "debate about whether human activity is actually changing the climate of the planet"

Best links to get information about the conference appear so far to be:

Flipping Point, an article on Pasadena Weekly

The Skeptics Conference section of the DeSmogBlog

Jonathan H Adler's "The Environmental Wars" Conference on his The Commons blog

————–

As a long-time Climate Change skeptic, I can only be glad to see that no less a skeptic than Michael Shermer had been unwilling to jump on the CC bandwagon, until a few weeks ago. So there is no need to provide evidence that I am not paid by evil Oil companies to air my views: especially when I doubt the more catastrophical claims

In any case: having literally read it all, my impression is that the debate remains as polarized as ever, with each side seeing what they want.

At the end of the day, it may go down to a communications issue.

Some people simply refuse to be cajoled into intellectual submission by scare stories and depictions of upcoming disasters.

Some other people think those disasters are coming but are failing to identify how to communicate it without resorting to “the end of the world is nigh…repent!”.

And so, after realizing their message is not being heard as expected, the latter group try to coherce the former a little stronger, with several insults thrown in the process

So here's my plea to all Climate-Change-is-awful-let's-act-now People: Please change your ways at communicating. This is no way to conduct an intelligent debate. And it is no way to obtain results

If you guys and gals really believe to be right, find a way to get things done.

And stop asserting that "the debate is over". It doesn't work, either.

Categories
Cultura Italiano Storia Uncategorized

Il problema David Irving

scrive Michael Shermer sul bollettino del 3 Maggio 2005 di eSkeptic ("Enigma: L'affare Faustiano di David Irving"):

Se realmente desiderate fare tacere David Irving, non parlatene.

Sono d'accordo, fino ad un punto: perché un problema con Irving e' la libertà di espressione e questo merita chiarificazione. Dovrebbero, coloro cui tiene quella liberta', organizzare quello che Christopher Hitchens ha denominato il Comitato per Regole Giuste per David Irving?

Forse no.

E non sono d'accordo con il Dr. Shermer, che in risposta alla decisione austriaca di imprigionare Irving, ha suggerito di "lasciare David Irving andar via" nel bollettino eSkeptic del 2 Marzo 2006 ("Diamo al diavolo i suoi meriti")

Ancora la parola a Shermer:

L'enigma emerge dal fatto che [Irving] è, contemporaneamente, brillante e bellicoso, molto intelligente e diabolicamente ingannevole-uno che avrebbe potuto "arrivare" ma che ha preferito "fingere"… un grande e diabolico spreco di talento. Come e perchè questo è accaduto? A mio parere, Irving si e' autosuggestionato da quando e' entrato nel Cerchio Magico [ cioè, i confidants di Hitler ancora vivi]. [… ] Hitler, ha spiegato, "aveva attratto gente istruita e ad alto livello intorno lui. Le segretarie erano segretarie di classe superiore. I consiglieri erano gente che aveva fatto l'università o la scuola del personale ed avevano fatto carriera con le loro proprie abilità fino ai livelli superiori del servizio militare." Questi intimi di Hitler erano istruiti ed parlavano altamente bene del loro Führer. Chi era Irving per non creder loro?

Come esempio si dia uno sguardo giusto alla storia segnalata da Shermer nella parte inferiore di quello stesso bollettino "Post Scriptum su Irving & i diari di Eichmann": nel quale è spiegato come Irving ha trovato un modo di negare l'esistenza di un ordine diretto da Hitler per l'Olocausto in faccia di una frase molto chiara scritta da Adolf Eichmann nelle sue memorie: "il Führer ha ordinato lo sterminio degli ebrei"

Libertà di espressione non significa libertà di ingannare

Categories
Culture English History International Politics

What’s wrong with David Irving

Writes Michael Shermer on the May 3rd, 2005 edition of the eSkeptic newsletter (titled “Enigma: The Faustian Bargain of David Irving”)

If you really want to silence David Irving, treat him with silence.

I agree with that, up to a point: because the matter with Irving could be interpreted as an issue of freedom of speech, and as such it deserves clarification.

Should people fighting for such a freedom organize what Christopher Hitchens called a Fair Play for Irving Committee?

Maybe not.

And I disagree with Mr Shermer, who in response to the Austrian authorities decision to imprison Irving, recommended to “let David Irving go” in the March 2nd, 2006 eSkeptic newsletter (“Giving the Devil His Due”)

Again to Shermer:

The enigma emerges from the fact that he is, at one and the same time, brilliant and bellicose, deviously clever and devilishly deceptive—a man who “coulda’ been a contenda” but instead morphed into a pretender…it is a great waste of a great talent. How and why did this happen?

In my opinion, Irving’s self-deception began when he entered the Magic Circle [i.e., the surviving former Hitler confidants]. […] Hitler, he explained, “had attracted a garniture of high-level educated people around him. The secretaries were top-flight secretaries. The adjutants were people who had gone through university or through staff college and had risen through their own abilities to the upper levels of the military service.” These Hitler confidants were well-educated and they spoke highly of their Führer. Who was Irving to argue?

As an example just look at the story Dr. Shermer himself reports at the bottom of that same newsletter “Post Script on Irving & the Eichmann Papers”: in which it is explained how Irving found a way to deny the existence of a direct order by Hitler for the Holocaust in face of a very clear phrase written by Adolf Eichmann in his memoirs: "The Führer has ordered the extermination of the Jews"

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to deceive