Bert Van Schaeybroeck / Scientiest

Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium / Climatology

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

As a researcher I was involved in the coordination of a national climate project studying the effect of climate change on multiple aspects of our society. It was concluded that, if the burning of fossil fuels continues as the current pace until the end of the century, the impact for Belgium will be drastic. What striked me most was the strong impact on the urban environment, the place where most people live. Already now, heat waves together with poor air quality are causing serious health problems and excesses of deaths, especially for the socially most vulnerable, kids and elderly. As the frequency of heat waves in the city of Brussels is projected to be four times as large, the impact on the urban population may become dramatic.
Over the years we, as a family, have attempted to adapt many habits and routines in an effort to reduce our ecological footprint. It started with joining a local self-harvest farm. This inspired us to pay much more attention to buying seasonal and local fruits and vegetables and to use reusable bags to buy fruits in the packaging-free shops. In the search for a house we prioritized the small distance to the school, the station and shops rather than living in a remote and green environment. As a result, we can limit our car use to once a week on average. We became more thoughtful about purchasing items. We first consider the possibility of borrowing items or buying them second-hand. In the past we limited plane trips for holidays of at least three weeks but recently we noticed that beautiful nature can also be found at small distances
One obstacle in this search for consuming less and producing less waste is that society does not facilitate this. The availability of public transport is too limited and cycling, especially with kids, is sometimes dangerous due to a lack of good infrastructure. The reuse or second-hand use of items is generally difficult as new items are available at dumping prices. Packaging-free and ecological items, on the other hand, are generally very expensive.
I hope more people will attempt to contemplate on their behavior as a consumer but my main hope is that the Belgian authorities would recognize the seriousness of the climate-change problem and start to invest in renewable energy, public transport, but also adaptation measures.

Originally posted 2018-05-25 13:07:18.