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+++ Earth’s twin planets: mgr. Sanchez Sorondo (Academy of Science), “they won’t save mankind but they show how precious water is to life” +++

Will the twin planets save mankind from an imaginary but altogether possible destruction of the Earth? “It’s a bit difficult to say, since they are a lot of light years away. If we don’t save the Earth ourselves, the twin planets will not save us”. This is the answer of monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Dean of the Pontifical Academy of Science, which, just after NASA’s announcement of the discovery of a system of seven planets that remotely resemble the solar system, is promoting a cross-disciplinary workshop on “The human right to water”, which is bringing experts, scientists, theologians and rabbis from all over the world to Casina Pio IV, in Vatican City. However, the discovery – mgr. Sorondo goes on, speaking to SIR during the conference – “is helpful, and it somehow teaches us a lesson. It shows, first and foremost, that the problem of the twin planets is all about whether there’s water or not. If they have no water, they are not actually twins, because they don’t really look like the Earth. Secondly, it helps understand how precious water is to life. There can be no life without water. The uniqueness of our planet is the water cycle, which, through the solid, gaseous and liquid states, produces life. If such cycle were heavily impaired or interrupted, we would have no more life on earth and we would end like other planets did, such as Mars”. At this point, mgr. Sorondo mentions the “great responsibility” that today’s men have and points his finger at the reasons of climate change, which are heavily threatening the water cycle. “I claim, as Pope Francis’s Encyclical ‘Laudato si’’ sadly said too, that it is humans who use fossil materials”. An example of this is the fact that the greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, have already halved the thickness of the glaciers that provide freshwater to our rivers.

In introducing the topic of the workshop, mgr. Sorondo raised another point of the problem that Pope Francis has particularly at heart, i.e. “universal access to water”, which is a “prerequisite for a dignified life”. Unfortunately, denying it is a cause not only of poverty but also of disease and death, especially for children. According to UN and WHO figures, in 2014 about 748 million people did not have access to drinkable water yet, and this – mgr. Sorondo said – is “a real tragedy” that requires “assertive” action. The workshop – he then concluded – would like to reach, with the help of experts in several sciences and from all over the world, a “decisive conclusion that may help solve the problem that is crucial for the future of our planet and of mankind”.

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