Climate Change – why we can’t keep ignoring it

Climate change has been a hot topic these last few weeks in Belgium. Demonstrations for climate justice are a weekly affair, but still it’s only a minority of people who believe that actions should be taken. A sad reality. The majority keeps looking for excuses to ignore the climate problems. Why? Self-regard unfortunately. Nobody want to give up his luxury lifestyle.

Fair is fair. I’m in no position to state that I’m a role model when it comes to my carbon footprint. I travel. Quite a lot actually. While my outdoor activities at my destination are sustainable, my transport to those destinations is not. Still, in my daily life I’ve made several changes in my lifestyle that have a positive effect on my impact on the environment.

Nobody is asking that everyone will be 100% environmental-friendly. In fact it’s impossible. But small adjustments in our lifestyles and some larger ones on our consumer society can make a huge difference. Since it remains so difficult to convince people of the problems in the world, I decided to make a list of first-hand experiences on global warming and the environmental problems in the world.

Melting glacier on the Kilimanjaro

In 2012, I climbed the Kilimanjaro as a personal challenge in my life. While doing so, I raised awareness on the endangered polar bear. Endangered due to global warming. But even the Kilimanjaro has something to do with global warming. Decades ago, the summit of Kilimanjaro was covered with huge glaciers. Nowadays there is only little left of that glacier. It is stated that the glacier will be fully disappeared in about 20 years.

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Mer de Glace, Chamonix

Again a glacier story. One year after the Kilimanjaro, I summited Mont Blanc in France. Two weeks before my climb I visited the Mer de Glace in Chamonix, once one of the largest glaciers in the Alps. During my visit I saw pictures of what the glacier used to be and I saw what was left with my own eyes. I can only say: it was shocking! Seeing how much of the glacier has been melted due the higher temperatures in the Alps the last few decades was devestating.

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Polluted beaches in Scotland

In 2015, Linsay and I made a trip to the UK. Our journey included a visit to the Isle of Skye. We had done some research about the best hikes to do. One of them was the hike to Camasunary Bay, at the base of the Cuillin Mountains. When we reached this bay, we couldn’t believe this was supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on Skye. The bay was full of trash drifted ashore.

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The air in Yangon

Yangon was our first experience with Asia. We’ve spent one day in the Birmese capital and were relieved to be leaving it. The moment we got out of the plane, we were shocked by how it felt to breath the polluted air, which is common in Asian major cities.

Trash on the roads in Myanmar

Most of the street food in Myanmar is offered in throw away boxes. Add to this that there is no garbage collection is Myanmar and you won’t be surprised by the huge amount of trash alongside the roads. A terrible example of the consumer society.

Inle Lake

Another problem in Myanmar is Inle Lake, one of the highlights of the country. Overfishing, deforestation, excessive use of fertilizers and climate change are threatening the lake. Not only is the lake polluted, but it has shrunk by a third as well. Fears have been voiced that one day it may simply vanish.

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Polar Bears in Spitsbergen

We could mention the retreat of glaciers in Spitsbergen again. But since it may be clear that glaciers are retreating worldwide, we would like to mention the polar bears. Global warming has reduced their sea ice, which makes it more difficult for  them to hunt for seals. Because of this, polar bears are desperate for food, something we experienced first-hand.

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Belize Barrier Reef

My first snorkeling experience I had was in Belize. Something I was really looking forward to. Especially since the Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest reef in the world. But the experience was disappointing as the reef had lost its color on most places because of the pollution of ocean water. And that was not even the worst. During our snorkel sessions we encounter plastic trash. Not just a bit, but loads! Being trash-warriors ourselves, we spent our time in the water cleaning up instead of enjoying the marine life.

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These are only a few examples of the effect of our behaviour on our planet. It’s time to act!

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