We were lucky to attend, on separate occasions, intimate lectures given by physicist Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen in Israel this week. Both lectures occurred at Tel Aviv University. On Tuesday Stephen Hawking talked via a prerecorded lecture on the fate of the Universe and on Thursday Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen hit home the message to the Porter School of Environmental Science that humankind better roll up its sleeves and come up with a quick fix solution to Global Warming-or else. While Hawking's far-fetched ideas of inhabiting other planets such as Mars seem inconceivable, Crutzen proposes an equally frightening concept: injecting Earth's atmosphere with sulfur dioxide. But that of course, he suggested, would be viable if we had no other solution. The question is, what kind of irreparable damage could such an "experiment" cost, at what point do we know when we have no hope left, and how could we get all the nations around the world to agree?Professor Crutzen (who we blogged about here) proposes we artificially cool the global climate by releasing particles of sulphur in the upper atmosphere. These particles would reflect sunlight and heat back into space. The controversial proposal is being taken seriously by scientists because Professor Crutzen has a proven track record in atmospheric research.
We like Crutzen's scary proposal and Hawking's suggestion to inhabit Mars only because both ideas are so preposterous that they may actually make people wake up to Global Warming while there is still time. Moreover, we like the idea that both scientists, as respected scientists in their respective fields, can also be expected to play a role in peacekeeping. Crutzen's plan requires that all nations of the world participate and Hawking is outspoken about the problems of nuclear proliferation (while here he also lectured to students living in the Palestinian Authority). Hawking's next visit, his assistant Judith tells us, may be Iran, as he was just invited there by the scientific community. And yes, she believes, scientists- even though they are the ones responsible for creating weapons of mass destruction, may in the end, be the ones to help us broker peace. Chag sameach (happy holidays) for a Happy Hanukah!