Royal Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) / Astrophysics
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Studying the way how the universe influences the life on Earth through space weather or asteroid impacts, we see, how the life is vulnerable. There have been five known mass extinctions in the history of life on the Earth, including the famous extinction of dinosaurs, caused by natural catastrophic events. The chance of exterminate life on Earth by a space event nowadays is very low. One would say that we are safe now. However, we are not. According to my opinion, the biggest challenges for humankind and the greatest threat for life on Earth is humankind itself. The way we got used to everyday life patterns, without thinking not only about consequences, but also the way these patterns are maintained, is horrifying. From my perspective the most terrifying fact I have learned is how big pollutant methane is. For most of my life, I have never worried much about meat or milk production. However, more and more I have learned about animal behaviour, human behaviour, the way mass production works, the extreme condition of breeding animals, that neither meat nor milk is necessary for human diet and development, I realised I do not want to be part of this chain. And that I definitely do not want pay (therefore support) this way of meat production with my money. The realisation, how huge pollutant methane is, made me to decrease the usage of dairy products as well.
Another aspect what I have changed in my life concerns packaging and imported food. My partner and I buy only local products and try to avoid packed vegetables by using our own cotton bags or boxes. I see a change in my surroundings, more and more people are aware of the environmental problems. However, there are still plenty of challenges in the society concerning environmental threats. One thing is the individual mind set and second thing is the political aspect. For example: if traveling by an airplane is cheaper than a traveling by a train, how can we travel more environment friendly? The key challenge now is the realisation of the society that each individual is responsible for her or his actions and that these actions can have serious consequences for the whole planet. It is not late, we just need to get out of one’s comfort zone and realise the importance of everyday life’s decisions.