Thomas Merckx / Postdoctoral researcher

UCLouvain / Ecology

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I’m deeply concerned about the ongoing severe decline in biodiversity, as it is a process towards ever more simplified landscapes with the resulting impoverished ecosystems less resilient to environmental shocks. Where I live, it simply pains me having to walk, run or cycle in such landscapes, where nature is no longer plentiful but is barely scraping by due to the onslaught of the current system of intensive agriculture. Where I can, I give advice on how to cater for more native biodiversity in private gardens and in urban green infrastructure or nature reserves. I support organizations that aim to protect biodiversity. However, much more needs to be done. We need serious political action so that our environment is no longer treated as a dustbin, and so that much more space is safeguarded for nature. A key change is now needed within society to appreciate the many roles of worldwide biodiversity in our lives, to appreciate the damage we are causing to it, and to hence demand change. We need to adopt environmentally-inclusive views where minimizing harm to the environment is the norm. We need to rethink how we best use our land, for instance with an ecosystem service perspective in mind. We need to become less tolerant to all types of pollution (e.g. artificial light at night, air, soil and water pollution, noise pollution) and demand powerful mitigation actions so as to improve the quality of our surroundings. Not only social justice, but environmental justice too should be at the heart of politics. Climate change and biodiversity declines are two sides of the same coin: too many humans using the environment (e.g. the atmosphere) as a free dustbin. Now that the climate change time bomb has finally reached the political agenda, it is imperative to also add biodiversity to the discussion, and to the solutions. For instance, much is to be gained from nature-based solutions in terms of climate change mitigation and there are win-win impacts for climate and biodiversity; for instance, reducing the worldwide amount of cattle will not only significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, but many other pollutants too, and it comes with a huge opportunity to ecological restore land that is no longer needed to grow cow food. Climate action not only need to be social but green too!