Monday, 31 July 2006

Climate change in Europe

Last week I was in Geneva for a meeting. As usual, World Health Organisation (WHO) had booked me in a hotel near the central railway station. When we landed in Geneva, it did not seem like very hot, compared to the hot Bologna that I had left behind. But, when I reached my room in the hotel, it felt as if I had entered a furnace.

While the bed had a woollen blanket as usual, there was something new in the room - a small table fan. Switzerland had always been nice and cool. In the summers, it did get warm in the day but most of the time, nights were cool, needing something warm.

After the arrivasl of fans, how long is it going to take for Switzerland to turn from paradise to hot baking furnace?

During nineteen eighties in Italy, I had never seen a fan in any house or office. To be honest, I had never felt even the need for it. I think that our first table fan, we had bought it in 1993 or 1994. Then in the next years, we bought more of them, so that we had one for each room of the house. During the same years, fans were installed in our office as well. Finally, this year, we have air-conditioning, at home and in office in Bologna (Italy). Everything has happened in the last 10-15 years.

Any way the hot temperatures in Geneva had some nice side-effects also. People were having fun with the summer along the lake in Geneva. Drinking beer along the small pubs, sitting and chatting on the grass wearing bikinis and swimming costumes, swimming in the lake.

In Geneva I met Gregor Wolbring. He spoke about new technologies like synthetic biology and nanotechnology, and their convergence that is going to change the world completely as we know it. It is all going to happen in the next ten or twenty years, he says, and the real disabled persons will be those will not be able to afford the new technologies for enhancement of their bodies and minds.

He has a soft smile, gentle way of speaking and dreamy eyes. And he has a special wheel chair, that looks simple and has side bars, that you need to move gently to move ahead or back. Listening to him, I feel as I am transported in the world of Asimov.

Yet, take a look at his webpage and his coloumn, and check his credentials, he teaches in the university and is part of some important sounding committees. So it is no science fiction but a new reality he is talking about. He tells about it in a simple way, making it easy to understand.

For a moment, I daydream about enhanced human beings but then that images contrasts so strongly with the reality of poverty, lack of most basic things, disease and death that stalks lives in so many parts of the world! Would that dream be for all of the humanity or will it be sold to the highest bidders, I ask myself.

In the pictures below, I am with Gregor Wolbring.


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