KU Leuven / Master Environmental Geography
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I am specialized in the study of the urban climates, which focuses on the understanding of the climate impact of complex urban systems. Most people are already aware of what we call the “urban heat island” effect. But the urban climate has many more implications for the environmental, scoio-economical and heath sectors. One of the main challenges I have been facing up until now is the obtention of proper data to represent those cities in our climate models and make sure that we model them well. This implies that many urban stakeholders have to cope with climate change without really knowing what to do.
Because I have been concerned about the lack of knowledge on the different impacts of the urban areas on the climate and on our health, I have been and continue to be involved in a citizen association that tries to defend the environment and the quality of life in one of Brussels’ neighborhood. I also involved myself in the public debate as a climate scientist by teaching classes about climate change in secondary schools, writing opinion papers for public journals, and translating (in French) and signing the open letter from the #scientists4climate.
One of the main difficulty that I have been confronted too in order to lower my emissions is the lack of capacities that are given to individuals in order to accomplish these goals. Simple examples would be the lack of proper public transportation and the few pedestrian areas in most of the Belgian cities or the omnipresence of plastic in the things we buy (even over biological food products)… In my humble opinion, the change can’t come only from the individuals but has to be supported by stakeholders and decision makers in parallel.
I think there are many changes that need to be addressed properly. One that frightens me the more currently is the rising fear of the other in our societies. We have to accept that climate change will concern us all, and therefore, their is no other way than working all together in order to make sure that 10 billion people can leave peacefully on this planet. I still believe this is achievable, although I am most aware of the challenges that it requires.
To end up on a positive quote: “There are too many people on Earth only for the ones that don’t love them”.