ULiège – Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech / Soil physics, Hydrology
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Will climate change lead to increased floodings, soil erosion and mudfloods? Yes. And our water supply quality will also be affected. Agricultural production will be affected. This is serious and will become even more if we do not protect our water resources and soils. The current policy measures are very insufficient.
Already today, changes are gradually being detected in extreme event statistics. They are influenced by the climate but also by major changes in our land use and agricultural practices. Impermeabilisation of the land, more intense rains that erode the soil, carry nutrients to the groundwater and rivers, not to mention plant protection products….. The hydrological cycle is becoming more intense and also more chaotic. If we consider the IPCC climate scenarios for near future, it is clear that all these developments will soon be exacerbated.
There is a limit to the soil that can be eroded on a field. Up to 30 cm of soil loss has been measured since the Second World War. This represents hundreds of years of natural soil formation. With the same agriculture, in the next 60 years, the loss is likely to be much higher. We are wasting a precious and scarcely renewable resource.
What can we do on our scale? Combat unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and consume the products of a reasonable agriculture that takes care of water and soil. These are my personal choices.
A researcher, it is important to meet your colleagues. If I participated in all the meetings and symposiums that advance my field, I could live in airports and shamefully display my frequent flyer card. We are eager to collaborate internationally. We have to go fast, come back so fast also because in our universities, there are so few of us to teach future bioengineers and it is difficult to be away for long. What an irony.
In 2019, I decided that whatever time it costs me, my trips to Europe will be by train. Armed with my gourd and my tablet, my smartphone as a wifi hub, I use this time by working. We still have to get this principle accepted by our colleagues, our authorities. It is only on my scale, it is insufficient but it is absolutely necessary.