Observatoire Royal de Belgique / Solar Physics
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For many years already, I observed the accumulation of alarming signs of the increrasing rate of global climate warming, of the loss of biodiversity and of the ubiquitous pollution that makes our natural environment more and more threatening for life and human health. It is a systemic problem, where the same causes are producing all big issues of our epoch: not only the degradation of the environment but also extreme social inequalities, wars for access to ressources, and a rebirth of fascism and extremism in populations that feel more and more threatened and ignored. Those overarching causes are the supremacy of trade and finance over democracy, ruling on political decisions, including the dogmas of never-ending material growth, competition and legitimate predation.
At my scale, I adapted my personal and family life: bicycle and public transit instead of a car, photoelectricity and heat pump for the house, local food with less meat, etc. I would point out that beside the motivation for a better environment, all those changes brought various satisfactions in the life of the family, including some less obvious ones like a greater autonomy and self-confidence for our kids and an improved health (immunity).
Unfortunately, we must often struggle to reach our goals because we live in an adverse context. For mobility, the public space, the laws (driving code, fiscal support to enterprise-cars) and the public budgets are still largely oriented towards the car and air travel, neglecting alternate light and energy-efficient mobility and public transportation. The economy is still organized by unregulated trade and larges monopolies (supermakets, multinationals), which is based on the exhaustion of resources and on massive production of waste (pollution of water, trash, etc.). As no alternate solutions are available, just striving towards natural sensible choices is often like swimming against the stream. It is practically impossible to live without some bad behaviours, against our own will (over-packaged goods, using the car to reach a destination for which all past public transporation was dismantled, etc.). This very lack of freedom of choice is by itself a warning signal of decades of dismantling of social/democratic control on trade and finance serving individual interests of a small portion of society, and the parallel lack of effective political support to citizen initiatives serving the common good of the whole society. So, political action is needed beyond the individual initiatives of citizens.