Parisi against the GDP: Nobel or not, you can’t talk to idiots

Parisi against the GDP: Nobel or not, you can’t talk to idiots
Parisi against the GDP: Nobel or not, you can’t talk to idiots

The attribution of the Nobel does not guarantee the competence of the winner in every branch of human knowledge. I know several Nobel Laureates, and all of them, with one exception, are well aware of it. Humility is a trait that unites them.

Giorgio Parisi, Nobel Prize in Physics 2021, talks about GDP in parliament, criticizing this measure of a country’s economic performance. The reactions were of different kinds: many media reported his statements and that’s it, some even went so far as to say that Parisi will be a very good physicist (their goodness) but that the real world is more complex than how he sees it (after all he won the Nobel Prize for his studies on complexity, from subatomic particles to galaxies with, in between, the flocks of starlings). Economic growth, measured with GDP, is not discussed, and no politician, that I know of, has said that Parisi is right.

Some commentators have objected that, with technological innovation, GDP can be increased without eroding natural capital: GDP growth and sustainability are compatible. The totem of growth goes hand in hand with faith in saving technologies. As a physicist, but it doesn’t take a Nobel Prize to figure it out, Parisi knows very well that if something increases, something else decreases. GDP growth is based on the growth of production and consumption and, however efficient the technologies may be, a job cannot be done without consuming resources, and it is nature that provides them. The growth of economic capital causes natural capital to decrease. Better technologies will be able to slow down the decrease of natural capital, but if we continue to grow in number and consumption increases, the decrease is inevitable. I use the word degrowth because it is a blasphemy if it refers to the economy, but if natural capital decreases and economic capital grows… what’s wrong?

An economy based on growth is against the laws of physics. In a competition between the economy and nature, the economy may win temporarily but, in the end, it will lose and this will lead to its degrowth: those who want growth lay the foundations for traumatic degrowths. Nature without us gets along very well, we without nature are dead. You shouldn’t need a Nobel Prize to understand it but, since you don’t understand it, Parisi took the trouble to explain it after having risen to the headlines for five minutes. Before him, a host of environmental scientists (not to be confused with ecologists), including the greatest scientist of all time, explained it. Charles Darwin: all species tend to grow, but not all can, because resources are limited.

Riccardo Valentini is a Nobel Prize of my acquaintance. The one for peace, which some say is worth less, won a collective Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC, the intergovernmental panel on climate change, made up of hundreds of scholars. Among which also stand out Thank you Manabe e Klaus Hasselmann who, this year, won a “good” Nobel Prize for their studies on the climate, sharing it with Parisi.

Riccardo Valentini was on the Lazio regional council and I think I will not reveal disconcerting facts if I report what he told me: some regional councilors made fun of him when he spoke: Oh, he’s talking Nobbel! Valentine makes you laugh. Having won the Nobel is an object of ridicule for some.

A saying attributed to several authors, from Oscar Wilde to Mark Twain, says: never argue with idiots, they drag you to their level and then beat you with experience. But what should the Nobel Prize winners do when they are made fun of by idiots when they warn of the consequences of our crazy plans to dominate nature? They come down from the ivory tower and try to make the idiots think. Being treated like idiots.

Parisi it has already disappeared from the honors of the news. He is, after all, 73 years old (one less than Draghi, for whom the years do not matter) and therefore he will be stupefied, right? Oh well, in Parì, now we take away from you er Pil …

In our country, science does not enjoy a good press. Sure, we are happy if we win some medals, but do you want to put a Nobel Prize with the Olympic and Paralympic golds? Or the European football and volleyball championships?

If they tell you things you don’t want to hear, you don’t listen. Nobody convinces you, not even the pope. Ah, yes, even the pope warned that we cannot go on like this, with an encyclical that talks about biodiversity and ecosystems, saying that they are more important than money. In short: he too is crazy.

I am the first in my family to have graduated and my grandmother Anna used to make fun of me: you know the scientist (my family is Genoese). Looking at Picasso’s paintings, grandmother Anna said that she could have done them too, what does it take? It was very important to me, grandmother Anna, born in the nineteenth century, and I remember her with a lot of love and respect. I find it around me every time science is made fun of. Mind you, she made fun of me but, deep down, she was very proud that I was doing university. For idiots, on the other hand, a Nobel prize does not deserve attention and respect.

Who is implementing the ecological transition is based on the warnings of people like Parisi and the pope? It seems to me not. The ultimate goal seems to be, once again, GDP growth.

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