UCLouvain / Evolutionary ecology
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Concerns: The human population on earth is still increasing rapidly, and although poverty has been reduced, which in itself is a welcome development, this also means that our ecological footprint is getting bigger and bigger. Climate change, pollution and loss of habitat for millions of other species are the result, and a number of these changes, such as the extinction of many species, are not reversible. We, the only species that is capable of planning ahead, well beyond its own lifespan, should clean up the mess we made ourselves and reduce our impact by slowing down the growth of our population and making our way of life more compatible with the natural world.
Contributions: I reduce my own impact on the planet by not owning a car and doing the most of my movements by bike or public transport, buying organic food from local producers where possible, reusing packaging, and renovating our old house with ecological building materials, such as wood fibre isolation instead of rock wool. In summer, the sun takes care of the hot water boiler, and photovoltaic panels are in the planning. I am giving plenty of space to nature in my garden. But the decision that probably has the strongest impact for the planet is the fact that I don’t have children.
Difficulties: living in an old house (1700s) makes energy-efficient and carbon-neutral heating a lot more difficult. The CO2 that is saved by reusing an existing house instead of building a new one is quickly produced again by heating it without having a lot of insulation. Adding extra layers on the inside reduces the available space, adding them on the outside hides the façade and takes away the character of the house. Installing underfloor heating is not possible with an old tile floor.
Society: The government should give clear directions for the future, be proactive and facilitate the transition for the people that are less well off. People with money to spare should get the opportunity to invest in transition projects to help the less affluent.