Caroline Nieberding / Associate Professor

UCLouvain / Biology, Evolution, Ecology

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As a biologist studying how animals evolve, I know that the amazing diversity of life that we now have on Earth is at threat. Sixty to 80% of all living animals have disappeared over the last three decades, and we are about to live in an empty world. We are now surrounded mostly by animals we eat (cattle and poultry) and there is almost no space left for nature, for wonder. In the past, all animals bigger than 14 kgs have become extinct in response to rapid environmental changes, and now all big animals except those we feed on are getting extinct. There is no reason to think that we, humans, would escape extinction.
I started at UCLouvain in 2008 by building with the help of UCLouvain a low energy climate room for rearing my model insects. Personally, I have implemented in my daily life what most scientists know are central behavioural changes to lower our so-called energetic or ecological imprints, that is how much energy and hectares of land I use to support my family. We buy and cook unpackaged vegetarian and organic food, we buy preferentially nothing or second hand, we avoid planes and all private types of transportation. We live in the city center to decrease pressure on natural and agricultural lands, we buy energy for housing from sustainable sources (including photovoltaic panels made in Europe), renovate the house with local, sustainable material and contracts, I have my savings in a fairtrade bank (Triodos bank and NewB Belgian bank), we limit data storage and streaming from the web. We generate a lot of happiness by acting in agreement with what we value. We get this crazy feeling of freedom and of power to decide of our own lives, and one change leads to the next, most naturally.
Comfort and luxury are very different things and we should not lose both for our children, because we are obsessed by the latter. Let’s look at, first, “where the money goes” and, second, where the goods you buy come from. We can decide to distribute our money at all (family, regional, Belgian and European) levels to local, sustainable and moral companies. This will at the same time produce local employment, protect our climate and nature, and bring us a sustainable future. We can do this together: time if for cooperation, the strongest quality of our species, humans.

Originally posted 2018-07-30 18:06:29.