Université Libre de Bruxelles / Agronomy, geography, epidemiology, livestock mapping
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My main concerns regarding climate change are further future inequalities and disruption of societies. Even if future climate remains relatively viable here, people exposed to harsh climate won’t stay quietly where they are. The migrant crisis gives us a tragic warning of what may become worse in the future.
My main actions are twofold. At the personal level, we’ve moved into a passive house, I now use train and public transports for my daily mobility and I try to eat local, though I still own a car, and take flights. At the professional level, my research provides high-quality global data sets on livestock distribution, and these are essential to measure and reduce the global environmental impact of livestock farming, and to identify paths to more sustainable farming.
I see several obstacles to change. First, efficient measures to tackle climate changes are unpopular because they impact on comfort and habits. In a system with representative elections where the politicians’ job is at stake every few years, effective measures become a political suicide.
Second, we are in a global economic system and the governance is mostly national. Which government would take the risk of strong measures impacting the competitiveness of its enterprises? This call for a strong global governance, and we don’t have that.
Third, the myth of the “holy technology that will save us all” is deeply rooted in the mind of those who refuse to face the extent and urgency of the global environmental crisis. No technology can sustainably meet the steep rise in demand for energy and materials linked to increased consumption per capita in the largest part of the world. Technology development and adoption takes time, we are running short, and climate change is only one facet of the global environmental crisis.
Beyond this, there is the system of values. A person viewed as “successful” has a considerable footprint through the consumption of food, goods, mobility and space. Marketing permanently reinforces the belief that our happiness is linked to consumption, and increased inequalities are fuelling the feeling of injustice of those who feel excluded from the consumption system.
What is needed, and it emerges too slowly, is a new system of values where the measure of individual and collective progress becomes immaterial. Things such as social links, emotional bounds, hard skills, soft skills. It is a difficult challenge, but we don’t have much choice to invert the trend.