Department of Biology, University of Antwerp / Biology/Ecotoxicology
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As an ecotoxicologist I am studying the accumulation of pollutants present in the environment by different organisms and the effects on individuals as well as on whole communities. From several studies it is clear that an increased temperature results in an increased accumulation and higher toxicity of chemicals. In addition, increased temperature results in additional stress to organisms.
Since my childhood I am concerned for the environment, which was the main reason for studying biology. Because of the effects climate change have on nature and biodiversity, I try to live and consume as environmental friendly as possible. Most of the time I travel with my family for our holidays by train to different countries in Europe or sometimes just stay in Belgium or the Netherlands.
For commuting we only use bike and train. Also for shopping we hardly use a car since we do not own a private car but participate in a car sharing project. We now try to set-up a broader network of car sharing in our village. Although we are not vegetarians we only eat once or twice a week meat and minimally once a week vegan. Further we try to keep our energy consumption (electricity and heating) and water use as low as possible. Finally we almost never buy plastic bottles or cans.
Despite all these actions we never have the feeling that we give up any pleasure in our life, on the contrary we experience our well-being as very high.
Concerning my job, I decided at the end of 2015 to reduce my CO2 emission caused by academic travelling (plane, train bus) with minimally 80 % compared to the yearly average emission before (between 1987-2014). I managed to reduce my CO2 emission even with 86 -96 % in 2015-2018. I also proposed this as a challenge on a meeting of the AURORA network to the presidents of 9 universities. The main problem I encounter with travelling is the disappearance of night trains in many parts of Europe.
Measures that has to be taken by government is to give more incentives to use less energy, to give premiums for insulation, to optimize public transport, to invest in (research on) renewable energy and to tax activities and consumption behaviour that is harmful for the environment and climate such as aviation and meat consumption. In addition all public buildings should be made climate neutral as soon as possible.