University of Antwerp / Behavioural Ecology
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The final piece that pushed me to take action was a recent study showing dramatic declines in insect abundances in German nature reserves. It not only touched me because I was strolling through many of the areas during my childhood, but also since this decline was observed in nature reserves. It also provided a likely explanation for something I keep witnessing – abundances of many bird species going down. Finally, a “Silent Spring” is becoming reality even though now by very different reasons.
But how to take action? Obviously, there is not a single cause. It happens because of the industrialized agriculture, because of an ever increasing urbanization, because of climate change, because of our enormous consumption and demand, and all is entwined on a global scale. In a talk, Theunis Piersma once illustrated this global dimension in an eye-opening way when describing the decline of migratory godwits in the Netherlands. How changes at any of its habitats (breeding, wintering or stopover sites) will have cascading effects that finally may all add up and lead to extinction.
Some issues seem too big as if one single person could do something about it, but many small changes make a difference if we all start. So, we implemented a range of small changes to our daily life. Most of which actually tackled different problems at the same time. Becoming vegetarian is good for our climate, but at the same time it addresses our ethical concerns about industrialized animal production. Personally, I try to use the train when traveling to work and for work, better for our climate, and I escape from the traffic jams too. Think twice before you (or your food) take(s) the plane! We try to buy more regional and ecologically produced food, we aim at reducing our plastic waste by 50%. And thanks to our son our garden, became a paradise for newts in the city! Small changes indeed, but we all can do that, and it will make a difference. And it is great to see how our kids think about it! They are often far more radical. We adults tend to think too much about pragmatic solutions and feasibility!
Some questions remain unanswered, some trade-offs remain challenging. And it is not always the most obvious solution that is best. However, being aware and to take actions every day is the most important thing!