she biochemist Joan Oró (Lérida 1923 – Barcelona 2004) is one of the most interesting people I have met thanks to my profession: he had an amazing career in the United States – he founded and directed the Department of Biochemical Sciences at the University of Houston and joined in many research projects from NASA (programs Apollo y Vikings)- and discovered, in 1959, the synthesis of adenine, which opened the door for others to carry out the synthesis of all nucleic acid components. Due to his research, he postulated in favor of the possible influence of comets on the appearance of life on Earth, and for this reason he is considered the first of Theory of Panspermia (organic matter that gave rise to life may have arrived in comets that impacted the old planet).
The first traces of life on Earth, according to the fossils of the oldest organisms found, appeared about 3.5 billion years ago. That is a long time of evolution until we reach today, when all life on the planet, including human life, lived under the threat of climate change Its effects can already be seen with the naked eye: severe droughts, water shortages, severe fires, rising sea levels, floods, melting ice at the poles, catastrophic storms and declining biodiversity.
This threat that faces the economy and human development, and directly affects basic issues for survival such as food and drinking water, directly influencing health: Heat waves and air pollution aggravate chronic diseases, there is an increased risk of pathologies transmitted by mosquitoes and other vectors, and the probability of health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic increases.
And under that shadow we reached the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP28, which will take place between November 30 and December 12, 2023 in Dubai. On Tuesday, at the latest, we will know what agreements and commitments will emerge from that meeting, with health as one of the main topics. There is pessimism about this but the fact that there are thousands of lobbyists in attendance shows that there is something very important going on there these days.
On the occasion of the publication of the eighth edition (2023) of the report The Lancet Countdowna collaboration of 114 scientists and health professionals from 52 research institutions and agencies around the world that independently monitors the evolving health effects of climate change, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, says: “The continued expansion of fossil fuels is a death sentence for millions of people. There is no reason for continued delay in climate action. “The increase in temperature must be limited to 1.5°C to avoid the worst climate change, save millions of lives and help protect the health of everyone on Earth.”
It is true that we have many problems, many emergencies and many worries in many places, but now it is not reasonable ignore that Spain, especially the Mediterranean basin, is an area of special vulnerability of climate change, and that here the rate of warming is, and will continue to be, faster than the global average. Projections show that, if nothing is done to prevent it, a hotter, drier, drier, more flammable country awaits us, with more floods and affected by rising sea levels.
And there is more to lose: it is assumed that Mars was like Earth millions of years ago and there are scientists who have seen the future that awaits us on that red, desert planet. Oró explained it this way at the time: “I don’t believe in the existence of life on Mars, we don’t have any definitive evidence, but I don’t deny that the conditions, 4,000 million years ago, when the planet was formed, comparable to that on Earth: presence of liquid water, organic material and sufficient temperature”.