dicembre 2023
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (Berlin, September 14, 1769 – Berlin, May 6, 1859). Coming from a wealthy family, he studied languages and economics in Hamburg, geology in Freiberg, and anatomy, astronomy, and the use of scientific instruments in Jena.

There, he associated with Goethe and Schiller and was influenced by the principles of Goethean morphology, such as the dynamic conception of the type as a constructive and heuristic principle and his holistic view as an active principle capable of compensating for the developmental deficiencies of some parts through the greater development of others, which remained among the main inspirations of Humboldtian biology (according to Treccani Encyclopedy).

After conducting botanical and geological research in Germany, Austria, England, Switzerland, and Italy, he organized a trip to the tropics. In 1799, he departed from La Coruna, stopped in Tenerife for 6 days, climbed the Teide volcan, and continued to CumanĂ¡ in Venezuela. He traveled through Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, recording everything he and what he encountered.

He climbed Chimborazo, 6,310 meters high, and then began writing "The Description of Nature" (Naturgemelde) as a network in which everything is connected, and each element is related to the others. Now, theoretical physics says the same thing for every event: it exists in relation to others. He also visited Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. He brought back to Europe 60,000 specimens of 6,000 species, 2,000 of which were previously unknown.

In 1829, he traveled to Russia beyond the Urals, to the borders with China, studied the nature of the Caspian Sea, conducted experiments on the chemical nature of its water, described various fish families, collected plants, measured altitudes, temperatures, and magnetism, took samples of stones, and discovered the first diamond mine outside the tropics.

For those who want to delve into his results and ideas, "Cosmos," in 5 volumes, is recommended. His modern and interesting vision is a physiognomy of the natural landscape as an expression of a profound organizing force exerted by the environment and its physical and climatic characteristics on living beings. Thus, the types of plant associations tend to converge morphologically, beyond the systematic diversities of the species involved, in regions distant from each other but similar in conditions. Darwin was also influenced by von Humboldt.

Following is the contribution of chatGPT, describing the main ideas of A.v.H. that have influenced us.

1. Interconnection of everything: Humboldt emphasized the deep interconnection between all elements of nature. He highlighted that every element in the environment, from rivers to mountains, plants, and animals, is closely interconnected and has an impact on others. This idea teaches us to consider the environment as a complex and interdependent system.

2. Understanding its functioning: Humboldt promoted the idea that to improve the environment, it is essential to understand its functioning. He encouraged in-depth scientific study of the natural environment to gain knowledge that can be used to prevent damage and adopt sustainable management policies.

3. Conservation of biodiversity: Humboldt emphasized the importance of biodiversity. He stressed that species diversity is essential for the balanced functioning of ecosystems and the resilience of the environment to disturbances.

4. Sustainability: He supported the idea that the use of natural resources should be sustainable. Humboldt warned of the danger of overexploitation of resources and the need to take care of the Earth for future generations.

5. Ecological awareness: Humboldt's works contributed to spreading greater ecological awareness among the population. He sought to promote a deeper understanding and greater respect for nature through his writings and travels.

6. Climate studies and climate change: Humboldt's observations on climate and his recordings of meteorological data contributed to a better understanding of climate change and its impact on the environment. His work paved the way for climate change research.

7. Study and measurement: Humboldt placed significant emphasis on the measurement and systematic collection of scientific data on the natural environment. He encouraged the standardization of observations and measurements to allow a more accurate understanding of the environment.

8. Scientific outreach: He wrote in an accessible manner and sought to disseminate scientific knowledge among the general public. He believed that greater awareness of environmental issues...

9. Human impact: Humboldt highlighted the impact of human activities on nature.

Translated by AI.
Folco de Polzer

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