Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences / Molecular Ecology
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I study the evolution of small freshwater mussel shrimps. We discovered that it takes millions of years for new species to develop, making the current rapid loss of biodiversity irreversible. I am also researching Antarctic animals using population history data to extrapolate how species could react to climate change in the future. The project started three years ago, but the facts have already made up for it: some parts of Antarctica are among the fastest warming regions in the world! Antarctic organisms are used to extremely cold temperatures and do not have time to adapt to warmer climates.
Because we see the loss of biodiversity in our work, as a family we have tried to change our way of life. We have joined the Ghent “food team”, a short food chain initiative in which food is produced locally and delivered directly to consumers by farmers. I think this is the future for agriculture in Europe. We buy as many organic products as possible, use reusable bottles, sandwich boxes etc. and all family members take public transport. We have solar panels on our roof, an oven that heats the house with wood and a car on gas.
But I would like to see transport other than cars being promoted in Belgium – bus transport is bad, even a few kilometres outside the big cities, cycle paths are unclear and trains are overcrowded and almost always delayed. Last May we tried to live plastic-free for a month, which was completely impossible despite enormous efforts. Flying is far too cheap, and customers do not realize that future generations will pay the real price for a 20 Euro ticket to Barcelona.
How can we explain to our children that we are destroying the world so that shareholders can earn more money? I believe that real change will only be possible if we refrain from politicians. The climate manifestations of the young people show this clearly. Society needs to develop long-term visions for appropriate action. In politics, the focus will always be on the short term for winning the next elections. Think tanks are needed to develop important changes, with young people, scientific experts and members from different parts of society, to ensure that changes are socially acceptable. The national scale is also far too limited – climate change is a problem that affects everyone in the world!
Originally posted 2018-04-26 12:43:59.