Alexis Merlaud / Researcher

BIRA-IASB / Atmospheric chemistry

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

I develop instruments to measure the air composition and conduct measurements in the field. Since I was born in 1981, the CO2 concentration has increased by 20%. We know it is due to our use of fossil fuel and to deforestation, we know that the anthropogenic rise of CO2 and other greenhouse gases already changes the Earth climate, and we expect that their impacts will get drastically more severe without serious reductions in emissions. Severe impacts include floods, droughts and heat waves, which will reduce crop yield and food availability on a planet where the population is still growing. Climate change is an existential threat for our species, like nuclear weapons.
As a citizen, I decided to live in a flat close to my work and to avoid the car most of the time in the city. I eat less meat and try to reduce consumption and waste. As a scientist, giving the message that individual actions are the solution seems wrong to me. Scientists, who belong to a privileged part of the society, should not patronize people, especially in a context when the population is getting poorer. They should make knowledge public. It is important to me to get involved in popular science. So, I try to raise awareness in different circles through articles and public presentations.
Among the various difficulties, one that scientists can help with is to fight the most dangerous irrational beliefs. In the US, a significant part of the public does not fear climate change because Christ will come back soon to save them. In Europe, we have an equivalent with the people telling us that we should not worry since technology will save us in the end. Technology may contribute to the solutions, but if it is immediately and actively directed towards the interest of society.
Climate change, ozone depletion, or air pollution, are what economists call market failures, the market is not able to deal with them. If CEOs do not take into account climate change, it is not because they do not care about their children, it is because they need to maximize the short term profit of their companies. If they do not, they are out and someone else takes their job. The only democratic way to address environmental degradation is by drastically increasing the public control on corporations.

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