Université catholique de Louvain / Climatology – climate changes
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I began learning about climate change in 1993. André Berger had just written his book “Le climat de la Terre, un passé pour quel avenir”. That the climate was warming and would warm further was clear, and the level of warming in a typical “no action” scenario was already set to roughly 5°C. I was convinced that this would be sufficiently bad to justify action, but more skeptical at what the Kyoto Protocol (1997) could do: at best, a first step. Thanks to Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, I was for the first time at an IPCC Plenary in 2007. It was a shock to see some delegates arguing against scientific results as if they could be negociated! Recent researches and damaging events suggest that although limiting global warming to 2°C would be much safer than higher levels, it may not be low enough to prevent substantial impacts.
I never owned a car. My wife also didn’t own a car and was in favour of cycling, so even with young kids, we could live without car. This is not exceptional since many people live without car in Brussels, and many other solutions are available. For vacation, our view is that there is enough to discover and enjoy in Europe. I regret the time when we could walk to the train station in the evening and wake up in Switzerland. Having an interest for technical things, I spent time finding ways to reduce our home energy consumption. A difficulty is the time it takes: building renovation is a key to low energy consumption, but we still have to plan for the insulation of about 1/3 of our house…
Where should consumption stop? How can public and private investment be directed to areas such as sustainable agriculture, building renovation, and really low emission transportation modes? Is it possible to ban advertisement for cars, holidays by plane and any short-lived stuff? I think that a key difficulty to limit biodiversity losses and climate change will be to find ways to reduce inequalities and share limited resources. Cars will drive and repair themselves, plenty of other things will require less work. That should be wonderful: our descendants may have more time for leisure and activities where humans are really useful. But in our world, reducing the work needed to make stuff means that more production is needed… going on along this route would exhaust the planet.