Francois Rineau / Tenured professor

UHasselt / Climate change and soil microbes

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

I am leading a large research infrastructure which assesses the impact of climate change on ecosystems and the services they provide to our society. I am therefore very much aware of how climate change will (and already is) increasingly affect our lives, directly or indirectly.
But how to reduce our carbon footprint in a world where we are asked to contribute to ever-increasing economic growth (which means producing more), more flexibility (which often means more commuting) and where many of us need to prioritize more immediate threats (such as: how can I pay my rent this month)? There is no perfect answer, of course, but each gesture counts, as little as it seem to be, because it can be amplified several million times.
These are just examples of how I try to contribute to reduce my footprint. Far from perfect, but still better than nothing:
-Changing large, old car for a small, low consumption one (from 180 to 103 g CO2/km)
-Commuting by a combination of car and bike: 100% bike is too long (40km) but I put a foldable bike into the car and bike for the last 5 km
-Opening windows instead of using airco
-Going as much as possible by train to meetings in other Belgian cities
-Limiting the conferences where I need to go by plane to one a year
-Eating beef meat less than once a month
-Eating meat in general less than once a day
-Decreasing house heating by 1.5 C
-Changing internet search engine to one that finances planting trees in Sahel (it sounds lame but will have a very strong impact worldwide: trees do not only bring oxygen but also reduce erosion, improve water retention, and bring many other services…)
-Homeworking, when possible
-Skype meetings with colleagues from other Belgian universities, as much as possible (saves travelling of 2 to 10 people)
I tried to look for a speed pedelec to commute entirely by electric bike but these are still too expensive to buy.
Perhaps the good news is that decreasing our society’s carbon footprint could be combined with creating lots of new jobs in the green energy sector-maybe a way to go at the same time towards a more energy-efficient but also more equal society… Because without that, let’s face it, we are doomed.

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