giugno 2024

UTOPIC – ECOLOGYST 1926 – 2019

Italian chemist, environmentalist, and politician. Graduated in chemistry from the University of Bologna, he became a full professor and later an emeritus professor of commodity science at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bari. He is considered one of the founders of socio-economic ecology and a pioneer of environmentalism in Italy. His studies focused on the analysis of the life cycle of goods, the use of natural resources, including solar energy and water desalination, and waste disposal. In 1983, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies and in 1987 to the Senate for the Independent Left.

Nebbia had a versatile cultural background, spanning from historical economic studies to the design of solar desalination plants. He wrote a book on the use of solar energy technologies in 1966, advocated for "soft" technologies that mimic natural processes, proposed limits on fossil fuels, and emphasized the preservation of the natural resource heritage. He wrote a compendium on water resources in 1969, along with popular articles for the Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno.

As a fervent Catholic, he supported the encyclical Gaudium et Spes, which criticized the increase in goods produced solely for profit and dominance. He understood the evolution of class struggle:
"Originally a fight between oppressed workers and oppressive employers, class struggle now involves new faces of oppressors and oppressed: the polluted against the polluters, the poor countries against the rich ones. We need to start a great movement of liberation to overcome injustices among humans and with nature, a new protest for survival."

In the 1960s, he was active in Italia Nostra, opposing the nuclear power plant plan. In 1983, he accepted the PCI's nomination to the Chamber of Deputies and joined the Independent Left. In the debate between growth and development, he proposed abandoning the myth of growth, considered an enemy of a peaceful world:

"The physiological diseases of the rich stem from dissatisfaction, pollution, the need to rob others' natural resources to maintain the current level of consumption and waste, and the constant need to be in a pre-war state to prevent the poor from rebelling against the theft of their resources."

Nebbia reversed the relationship between ecology and economics, suggesting that ecology should guide the economy, freeing it from the dominance of GDP, which is expressed in monetary terms, and using nature's physical constraints. As a true professor, he explained the paradoxes of simply "having bread":

"...the most important elementary right, the right to food. The simplest food is bread, made from wheat. Cultivated in the Po Valley or Canadian fields, it requires the addition of phosphate fertilizers from Moroccan rocks treated with chemicals or nitrogen fertilizers synthesized from methane imported from North Africa. The crops must be protected from pests with chemicals, and some of the fertilizers and pesticides end up in the well water from which 'someone else,' a human being like us, somewhere, will draw contaminated water. Hence, my right to have 'good bread' deprives someone else of the right to a natural good, safe water."

He highlighted the destruction of forests, the impoverishment of poor countries, and the subordination of production to the demands of rich countries, which then export their waste. He clearly understood the forms of colonialism without armies, in which we live by looking the other way to avoid seeing the damage we cause, the desolation on which we thrive. In a 2019 interview, he clearly stated that the political world has lost the vision of the future, a common problem for all states. According to the author, it seems that only China has a project.

Enciclopedia Treccani,
Equilibri Magazine,
Nuova Ecologia.

Folco de Polzer

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