University of Antwerp / Plant and vegetation ecology
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Concerns: Natural processes are like a ‘metallic spring’. They can support a stress. However, when the stress is too big, they deform or break. Everybody is aware of this … but when the system is big and global (the atmosphere or the ocean), we worry the less, often because we do not see immediately the damage. However, atmosphere or ocean can also deform and break, like the metallic spring … and because are so big, we can not repair it anymore! Climate, forests, oceans, agricultural land etc. can be irreversibly damaged by the current human pollution (as CO2 emissions). For health, economy and wellbeing of human societies the risks are immense.
Facts: I daily use the bike and the car only 2-3 times a month (our children are also used to this). Also, we stopped buying red meat, and we eat white meat and fish only once a week… and from local producers. We also try to buy more ecological materials for the house (for example, avoiding buying tropical wood). Professionally, I try to understand how terrestrial plants and ecosystem functions, so to detect their vulnerable points and to make better projections of climate change. I support (vote) who set also environment and sustainability as priority, because these are not options anymore, there are ‘musts’ if we care of the wellbeing of our children.
Difficulties: 20 years ago I was using much more trains and buses for long travel. Now, I take much more the plane because lack of time … and the fact that plane is often 2-3 times cheaper. Continuous lack of time also slow the renovation of our house to make it more energy efficient. Professionally, the frustration about climatic and environmental issues is that the bottlenecks are on policy and political agenda, not on the scientific evidences.
Changes: A guided change towards a sustainable society (with lower future risks associated to a degraded environment) would open many new economic opportunities and build a greener and healthier economy. On this ground, much consensus can be immediately gathered in different sectors of the society. Such prospective will also made the necessary sacrifices and adaptation to a new way of living more acceptable. One thing is absolutely needed: actions now. Every day the climate and environment deteriorate, and for every day of inaction more money will be needed in future to mitigate this (all is scientifically documented).