Nobel science laureates stress urgency of addressing the climate crisis

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Three of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates have said addressing the climate crisis is of great importance.

Winners of the prizes in physics, chemistry and economics issued the warning at a news conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm ahead of next week’s presentation of the awards.

Their remarks came as a global summit on climate chaos was taking place in Madrid.

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Nobel physics laureate Didier Queloz (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AP)

Didier Queloz, who shared the physics prize for discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star, took issue with people who shrug off climate breakdown on the grounds that “anyway we’re going to leave the Earth at some point”.

He continued:

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I think this is just irresponsible because the stars are so far away I think we should not have any serious hope to escape the Earth.

Also keeping in mind that we are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We’re not built to survive on any other planet than this one. We’d better spend our time and energy trying to fix it.

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Nobel economics co-laureates Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee (Henrik Montgomery/TT/AP)

Esther Duflo, one of the economics laureates, cautioned that dealing with climate breakdown “will require a change in behaviour, particularly in the rich countries” that are heavy consumers of goods and energy.

While some believe that there is no need to consume less provided consumption is fuelled by renewable energy, “it would be great if that were the case but I don’t think we can count on it necessarily”, she said.

Stanley Whittingham, who shared the chemistry prize for helping develop lithium-ion batteries, said “to help solve the climate issue, the time is right now, but we have to be pragmatic … We can’t just turn off all the CO2.”

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