More than 120 scientists, engineers, analysts and economists from 30 countries were hunkered down here for the 40th annual conference on “planetary emergencies.” The term was coined by Dr. Antonino Zichichi, a native son and a theoretical physicist who has made Erice a hub for experts to discuss persistent, and potentially catastrophic, global challenges.

The participants were not particularly optimistic.

Making things worse is the increasing politicization of science — and concomitant loss of trust in scientists. But they’re thinking ahead at the Lifeboat Foundation, too.