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Sergio Ferraris, science journalist, director of QualEnergia and contributor of IdeeGreen, won the ANEV journalistic award for the web section. We asked Sergio a few questions, who in addition to dealing with the environment for over thirty years, first as a photojournalist and then as a journalist, has been studying editorial innovation for years and has this delegation within the Italian Federation of Environmental Media (Fima) which he helped found.
Matteo Di Felice, Managing Director IdeeGreen: Sergio, congratulations for the nice recognition. Do you want to explain to IdeeGreen users what ANEV is and what types of prizes it assigns each year?
Sergio Ferraris, QualEnergia Director: «Anev is theNational Association of Wind Energy which has brought together, since 2002, producers of renewable energy from wind power. Anev is very active on the front of the environmental communication and has had its own for over a decade magazine “The Planet Earth"With which I collaborate continuously in 2005. A collaboration that started in a decidedly original way".
MDF: Can you tell us about it?
SF: "Yes sure. At the time, I was collaborating with the science channel of Rai Educational like coordinator and author of the texts for documentaries on ecology, sustainability and renewables. We were at the beginning, I'm talking about the early 2000s. I had just finished a 25-minute documentary entitled "Barcelona as a sustainable city" and even then in that city there were a lot of topics and contents on sustainability, based on the fact that "The solar ordinance"Which imposes solar thermal on the roofs of new buildings and those renovated, complete with fines of tens of thousands of euros, is from 2000. Well I presented the documentary to the Anev competition and it didn't win, but the founder of the magazine called me , as well as historical figure of wind energy Ciro Vigorito, to tell me that he liked my documentary and that he wanted me as a collaborator of the magazine. Since then, twelve years have passed and every month I publish an article on sustainability on Planet Earth ».
MDF: Trump's nomination as President of the United States was a bit of a "cold shower" for us environmentalists. What do you think, what could be the consequences on a global level?
SF: “They will be significant and will represent a slowdown in climate protection policies for 6-10 years, even if the Tump presidency were to last only four years. I'll explain. The signal given by Trump will ensure that the climate policies at the international level will be conducted according to the logic "business as usual”Which provides for a growth of“ natural ”renewables, according to times and methods with the penetration rates dictated by pure industrial logic. Therefore, that blow on the accelerator that in the United States was represented by Obama and his alliance on the climate front with China will be missing. And Europe is lukewarm. Consider that the 2030 goals of the European Union in terms of renewables are only 3% above the "business as usual" growth estimate. Europe would have a great chance in replacing the US in its relationship with China on climate defense, but it doesn't seem to care. The reason is clear. To deal seriously with the development of renewable technologies, it is necessary to increase the expenditure for research, which can only be public, given that private research is only applied to products or processes and is short-term, and therefore in a first period it is about making a deficit. And with budget constraints and health and social security expenditure that increases due to the aging of the population, investing 3 or 4 points of GDP more becomes impossible. Thus, without the US with Trump and with a Europe blocked by the dullness of budgetary constraints that do not look to the future, the fight against climate change will suffer a setback. And in a crucial moment given that both the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperatures have seen an upward surge in the last ten years ".
MDF:… And in Italy? The decision to close Scala Mercalli does not seem to denote a particular sensitivity of the media towards the environment ...
SF: "The environment in Italy is first of all uncomfortable and by certain political forces it is not even seen as an opportunity for consensus. For this reason, the "public channel", Rai, closes Scala Mercalli and Ambiente Italia, while in the general media there is less and less insight into the climate and the environment, while, in the big media, ecology is good if it is "color". In addition to this, there are large cases of disinformation on the climate issue as a function of an alleged "level playing field". In major newspapers and on national televisions you can see reports where 50% of the space is given to deniers of climate change and the other 50% to those who affirm its origin by human activities. A fictitious level playing field that is functional only to fossil energy. 99.7% of climatologists affirm the existence of climate change and its anthropogenic origin. So this "level playing field" actually has no reason to exist, but is functional to the interests of those who manage fossil fuels, which represent the main source for 84% of the energy we use on the planet. Based on these two data, readers should judge the state of environmental information in Italy ".
MDF:You have recently started collaborating with us at Our website and I am really happy with it. What do you say, will we be able to make environmental and sustainability issues known to an ever-increasing number of users? Do you also think like me that the web will play an increasingly important role in the information landscape, also and especially towards young people who overwhelmingly connect from their smartphones?
SF: "The web is the future of information and those who compare it, as a phenomenon, to radio and television, which did not cannibalize the press, are mistaken. The web is different because it is an overall container, it contains writing, radio and television, all together and intertwined. Of course, today we are still in an interlocutory where every journalist does what he has always done, but the future will be of hybrid figures because the web is hybridization between writing, voice, video and photography. And everything will converge in the tool that accompanies us most: the smartphone. In ten years' time, paper magazines will be a copy, perhaps of luxury and affection, of the content developed on the web that will also allow new knowledge and cultural dynamics. Just think about training. I arrive, perhaps through Google on an article that interests me and at the end of the article I am offered a small, or large, online training course, perhaps certified, and that I can buy for a few euros, or it can be given in form “Free” to the student who either supports the school account. Information can become, if well addressed and equipped with the right technologies, the first tool of a formidable education system that could allow people to access that social elevator that today appears blocked and to increase their skills to integrate in higher professional brackets and disconnecting from lower professional positions that will undoubtedly be those most in danger due to robotics and artificial intelligence ».
MDF:Do you want to tell me about 3 or 4 macro themes that you think users will be increasingly interested in?
SF: "Those that concern them directly and that also relate to ecology are simple. Energy efficiency, renewables, consumption, planned obsolescence of objects, health and well-being, will be the most popular topics. And the climate, you say? Already the climate until it destroys your house or car is not a problem, for people and perhaps not even in that case since the big media speak of "fatality" or "tragic fate" up to classify extreme events like "water bombs". And then the projection towards the future of people, towards a future that will take place in 83 years is nothing. It is therefore obvious that the articles on the climate, despite the commitment that we environmental journalists put in, are the least sought, read and shared. And then you have to take the climate and "make a sandwich" within other contents that interest readers in their daily life. I give an example. In my opinion, an article on energy efficiency must focus on saving in the bill first, and then have a reference on climate change - just a single sentence with a number - perhaps personalized. In this way, little by little, it will be possible to give the tools to people, a large number of people - those who are looking for “savings in their bills” on Google - about climate change and make them responsible on the issue without frightening them, which is the worst thing. However, we need journalists who know how to "use" quickly and with great precision, and this depends on how the sources and these numbers are used. Which must be few, clear, precise, concrete and above all empathic. Translated: they must be understandable and close to people ».