TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Florence, Oct. 19th 2021
the 90 days period in which You tasked U.S. intelligence community to report on Covid-19 origins, it’s over. Perhaps, for the time being, the wisest thing to do is simply stick to what David Quammen wrote in his 2012 book ‘Spillover‘, inherent to the natural process called zoonosis, where he “describes precisely these ‘leaps’ by viral and bacterial strain, analyzing at the same time how much human activities contribute to favouring these ‘leaps’ ”. Among these activities “deforestation”, as well as “pollution”, are included in the black list.
During the first 5 months of 2020 the city of Bergamo (Italy) had the highest mortality rate per million worldwide, and the leading Italian wire service ANSA reported that an “autochonous” Sars-Cov-2 was detected in Milan in November 2019. Moreover, a bat recovery center is located nearby ( http://www.valpredina.eu/cras_wwf/sportello-pipistrelli/ ): do these facts prove that the region of Lombardy was the launch pad of the pandemic blast? Hard to say, however it’s good to remind that the above mentioned part of Italy is heavily, and unquestionably, polluted.
It is precisely for this reason that it would be hard even for NIH to deny that during a pandemic immunosuppressed and older people have a higher risk to be contaminated if the natural habitat where they live is damaged or lost.
Weeks before Italy was divided into white, yellow, and red zones to fight the emergency, I addressed a letter to former Prime Minister G.Conte to explain the advantages of using Geographic Information Systems to ease the correlation of environmental, energy, and sanitary data (including waste management). In that letter (enclosed) was also included the link to the original specs for a call for ideas submitted in 2018 to the Italian grid operator for electriciy transmission Terna (whose 10% was inexplicably sold to State Grid of China in 2014).
Satellites may give a quick, but at the same time, superficial overview of the situation on a specific area, but using three main conceptual layers in a GIS (e.g. LAND, BUILDING, AIR) we can overlap these maps contaning info from each one of them and monitor, for instance, the correlation between energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Or as well see the impact of land consumpion on pollution in a specific County or State.
Last April during the ‘Earth Day’ one of speakers (Marcie Frost of CalPERS) clearly welcomed “reporting standards”on this global concern.
The strategy of the project called ‘Greenhouse’ is to give to each building a standard reference in the map with <State_ID><County_ID><Building#> inside the BUILDING layer, so that Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, to make an example, would have the following code: <MD><MC><100>, assuming that in the database it was the hundreadth building indexed and located in Montgomey County within the state of Maryland (similarly <CA><SCC><40> for the 40th in Santa Clara County, Palo Alto; <IT><FI><Q3><5> for a school in a neighborhood of Florence, Italy); moreover, to involve students, if we simply add a typology field to the buildings info in the data schema, then potentially at National level we would be able to set up an annual contest among high schools to be awarded to the one with the best energy performances.
Trying to make it as clear as possible, we should follow the same method used for general elections where at any level (e.g. city, county, congressional district, state) a blue (D) or red (R) color is given depending on the final result. In our case instead, GIS maps will be colored based upon energy consumption: green zone if inside that specific area the amount of self-produced energy is greater than the one consumed, yellow zone if the difference between the two amounts is equal to zero, red zone otherwise. Let’s keep in mind that a further correlation with the AIR layer is to help to certify whether a local or central administration did or did not follow environmental policies.
A NYT “investigation, conducted in nine countries for much of 2019, uncovered a subsidy system that is deliberately opaque, grossly undermines the European Union’s environmental goals and is warped by corruption and self-dealing”, while last month U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioner for Agriculture of European Commission both joined in Florence the G20 Open Forum on Sustainable Agriculture. GIS are powerful tools to monitor land-grabbing, so that correlating the LAND layer of the database proposed with the one containing information about air quality (AIR layer), it would show a better understanding on whether the acres of an organic farm with wheat, corn, and flower is running better than the one belonging to the “thief economy” which is making immoderate use of pesticides or illegal intensive farming. And most of all, it would prevent “agricultural Mafia”, since “small farmers have reported being beaten and extorded for land that is valuable for the subsidies it receives” ( https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/03/world/europe/eu-farm-subsidy-hungary.html ).
A land registry reform is probably needed, which is not incompatible with the Build Back Better agenda proposed by Your Administration, but secondly it could help to redesign the electricity grid in order to make it as smart as possible for further energy clusters implementation.
In this bottom-up approach, conceived to let people know (and view) where they stand, the big issue is: who is going to input, collect, and store all this information?
Local, regional administrations across the Nation should play an important role in providing these city planning maps (LAND layers), as well utilities and energy distributors (BUILDING layer), while the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration for air quality info (AIR layer). Also LEED rating system of U.S. Green Building Council offers a standard to design and construct manufacturing sites, which is somewhat similar to BIM (Building Information Modeling) used in the European Union. Each building inside a GIS could be colored according to energy performance.
The bottom line is, likewise Google Maps do we need energy maps too? Since there’s a Cop26 coming up in Glasgow next November, it might be opportunity to open up a discussion on that.
Whether in the future drones or winged microchip will help us to “sense the environment for disease tracking… monitoring of environmental contamination” it is not yet known, but it’s in the news that the new super computer of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts will be fully operational next year in Bologna: all the stored data there hopefully will be analyzed and compared with the ones of the NOAA in order to help the ‘Fit for 55‘ EU’s package proposals on climate change to be met. Not forgetting to keep an eye on the disputable Emission Trading System.
Because with billions of green bonds already ‘spilled’ all over the world, and only one certification agency, such as the Climate Bonds Initiative, are we sure that sooner or later another Lehman Brothers won’t happen again?
Years ago I delivered to President Obama a “please just go forward protecting future generations”: so, are we going to save this “capricious anomaly in the sea of space”?
Usually green dreamers never sleep.
P.S.: the above will also be forwarded to email@example.com, email address reserved for US citizens currently living abroad