From the oceans to the mountains for a sustainable future

Published on Thursday, 26 April 2018

“Everything we take from the Earth, we have to give back. We have to learn to move within this circularity in the future, adopting sustainability as our basic principle. If we don’t turn our backs on the current economic model, there won’t be any future for us”

– Alberto Pratesi, professor of economics at the Roma Tre University

Time for action

There was great emphasis on plastic pollution, the scale and impact of which is still underestimated by the public. One of the most authoritative speakers was oceanographer Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, SEAlliance and Deep Ocean Exploration. “Her Deepness”, as she was nicknamed by the New York Times, was the guest speaker at the “Save the Oceans” and “Ocean Rescue for a better future” conferences.

Despite the fact that our seas and oceans are invaded by over 8 million tonnes of waste plastic every single year, running the risk that there will be more plastic than fish in the marine environment by 2050, Sylvia Earle was also at pains to emphasise the huge opportunity for the up-and-coming generations: there is now a much greater awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the currents as stabilising factors in landmass climate and this is pushing us to act personally to protect the ecosystem.

The Science Festival also promoted the  #PassOnPlastic campaign, which invites those who sign up not just to stop using plastic in day-to-day life but also encourages research into intelligent solutions to replace it forever. Protecting our oceans is also one of Enel’s goals as it is involved in researching innovative ways to harness the power of the sea to generate clean energy.

From the oceans to the mountains

Andrea Fantini, skipper of the eco-powered Class 40 Enel Green Power,the craft for which EGP is Innovation Partner, also provided a memorable first-hand account of the scenario today. At the Festival’s closing event, the Italian yachtsman related how he was forced to pull out of the last edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre after his boat collided with UFOs (unidentified floating objects) off the Portuguese coast. Although the impacts damaged her engine, the Class 40 Enel Green Power will return to competition this year, as an example to the world of the potential of zero emissions sailing in which technology is used also to foster sustainability. 

“In 2015, we beat the San Francisco to Shanghai speed record,” declared the yachtsman. “And during the entire crossing – around 7,000 nautical miles which we did in 25 days – not a single day went by when we didn’t see or hit plastic of all kinds. It is an enormous problem at all latitudes.” 

“The time for action has come. During our crossings, we only use wind and solar energy, and we eliminate anything superfluous. It’s a simple way of living that could be adopted in everyday life too. An example to raise awareness and make people realise that it is possible to change, starting with the youngest of children”

– Andrea Fantini, skipper

Another project that was part of the Festival programme and also supported by EGP is Fabiano Ventura’s photographic exhibition “In the Footsteps of the Glaciers – In Search of the Past for a Sustainable Future ”.

Ventura reveals the impact of climate change through a series of photographs shot on the world’s highest peaks: the shrinking of the glaciers is documented by comparing prints made by the early explorers with those of the present day shot by expeditions organised every two years (Karakorum 2009, the Caucasus 2011, Alaska 2013, the Andes 2016). The fifth began on April 20 and will take in Mount Everest (8,848 m), Kangchenjunga (8,586 m) and Cho Oyu (8,201 m) in the Himalayas.

“The comparative photography project on the disappearance of the glaciers is being developed to highlight a theme that we feel is fundamental to understanding sustainability. Aside from expeditions for scientific monitoring purposes, we are organising events and exhibitions to raise ecological awareness”

– Fabiano Ventura, photographer and explorer

The exhibition will run in the Auditorium until June 8, allowing director Federico Santini to shoot video footage for a documentary on the story of climbers of the past and also experiences in the field. A satellite link to the project site will also allow the expedition results to be tracked in real time. 

The Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Milan will also study the mass of the glaciers visited by Ventura’s team using remote sensing. The final readings will be taken in 2020 when the group travels to the Alps.

While searching for the reasons why remains a mystery to humankind, we are also seeing the impacts of our actions on the Earth with our own eyes. We can and must change and Enel is already headed in this new direction.

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