"Certainly, science has marked the evolution of humanity in very distinct matters and moments, with what it has been creating, discovering, interpreting. But science has never been so relevant, in the sense of showing almost at the same time and almost in the whole world the impact that human activity has on climate change and the changing conditions of the Earth," he said, closing the last daily session of the national science and technology meeting Ciência'21, in Lisbon.
For Matos Fernandes, "never before has science been so important in determining the need for a complete change in the social and economic model" on a planetary scale, given the "unequivocal proof" of human interference in global warming.
The "great revolution, the great change on a global scale, and in a very short time, is due to science", he stressed, pointing out that "the construction of a scientific truth guides or should guide all the decisions that are taken", including the "major commitments between States", particularly for the reduction of emissions of polluting gases.
By allowing "progress towards cleaner technologies", science "is absolutely essential", according to the minister, to "find the techniques, the ways, the processes of doing things differently" and, by trivialising them, "to have cheap solutions" to problems.
The intervention of the Minister of Environment and Climate Action, in the session "Science and the new challenges of space-climate interaction: from Earth observation to space weather", followed that of astrobiologist Zita Martins, who recalled that space missions also aim to "improve the quality of life on Earth".
The researcher and professor at the Higher Technical Institute mentioned the role of satellites in monitoring air quality and agricultural crops, ocean pollution or environmental disasters, but also in rapid internet access in schools.
Former French astronaut Jean-Jacques Favier, 72, who also took part in the session, but via videoconference, said that "there is no plan B" for Earth, a "beautiful and fragile" planet of which he had an "exceptional view" in 1996 aboard the shuttle Columbia, which took him on a 16-day mission to the reusable SpaceLab laboratory, which was installed at the rear of the US space shuttle's cargo bay.
Jean-Jacques Favier was impressed by cyclones, but also by fires and pollution at sea seen from space.
"There is no plan B for the planet, our base is our planet," he stressed, arguing that a possible colonisation of other planets should only be envisaged for scientific purposes.