Ronny Schallier / Scientific collaborator RBINS

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences / Marine biologist / oceanographer

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

The North Sea, my field of work, is receiving a tremendous human pressure such as from shipping, fisheries, pollution from land or via atmospheric depositions, from offshore platforms, tourism, etc. In terms of climate change, media focus on sea level rise. However, also sea temperatures are rising, leading to a shift in marine populations. Another, rarely mentioned and very much underestimated concern is that seas are acidifying, due to increased uptakes of CO2, but also due to various human activities.
Through my profession, we are monitoring atmospheric emissions from ships at sea: ships are now obliged to sail on cleaner fuels containing less sulphur, but these sulphur limits need to be controlled in the field! The effective use of cleaner fuels should lead to less sulphur deposition at sea and on land (thus slowing down acidification), but also to less deposition of black carbon in the Arctic (very important since black carbon deposits have a huge ‘melting’ effect in the Arctic region).
In my private life, my family is trying to adapt in various ways to limit our footprint: we live close to work, use public transport and byke to go to work; we live in an appartment and installed a condensing gas boiler, we try to avoid flying for holidays; we try to eat ‘local’ food… But alternative ways of transport can be better organised, in Belgium and around Europe (buses are often stuck in traffic jams; there are only few cycle paths in Brussels; trains are so expensive compared to flying; etc.); electrical cars are so expensive, markets still sell food from around the globe…
The key challenge clearly is that we all have to quit our addiction to fossile fuels. There is no other way… This means a revolution is needed in transportation (cars, shipping, aircraft; ..), in housing, in industry. We also have to think ‘local’: live close to work, produce local energy, stimulate local food production. Politicians should play a major steering role, by agreeing upon a strategic vision, creating a clear legislative framework, adapting taxation regimes.
The kids demonstrating in our streets are absolutely right that time is ticking fast and that urgent action is needed!

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