It is the beginning of summer here in Belgium and that means the academic year is over. After an undoubtedly excruciating exam period, students have left the library and are now to be found on festival grounds or on the Mediterranean beaches in Southern Europe. For most of them, July is the beginning of a long holiday, for others, it is also the start of their career. A small army of young graduates is lined up to enter the work force anytime soon. Are they ready to take it by storm?
Tagged: climate change
I am writing this blog post at the end of election day in Belgium, May 26th 2019. I headed out to the polling station early this morning to cast not one, but four votes: for Europe, Belgium, Brussels, and the Brussels representation in the Dutch-speaking Community (if you don’t know what that is, don’t bother, it’s complicated). Holding my convocation letter ready, I entered the voting station feeling a tad nervous.
Nervous, you ask? Yes. Nervous, because in the democracy of 2019, voting day is still the only day I truly participate in it. The only day in five years’ time. These two minutes in the voting booth are precious democratic time. During 120 seconds, I finally hold (a tiny bit of) democratic power: the power to give away my power. That’s what representative democracy looks like. I better get my vote right, I thought.
Sunday the 27th of January, 11 am. I am preparing myself to leave the house, putting on an extra sweater before I get into my warmest winter jacket. I am about to navigate myself through the rainy streets to the North Station of Brussels, where soon another climate protest will start to demand action from the Belgian governments. It’s the second march this week, the 5th in the last two months. The last thing I pick up before I head off is my protest sign. It reads: ‘System Change not Climate Change’.
It’s that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, the trees have shed off their last leaves, and the city is preparing itself for the Christmas festivities. It can only mean one thing: the yearly climate conference is around the corner! This summit, known as Conference of the Parties or COP, in short, is ready for its 24th edition. This year’s host is the (former) coal king of coal-addicted Poland: Katowice.
I have been extremely busy lately and therefore running completely behind on my writing schedule. If that was not enough, the IPCC decided to publish another of its so-many-hundreds-of-pages-counting reports on climate change. This time I decided to not even start reading the executive summary. Why, you ask? Because I am getting so damn tired of reports, press conferences, talks, climate summits, and what not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been dropping on us since the first global Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.
This Wednesday is Valentine’s day. Chances are high your thoughts are already floating off to your date night. Although it might seem as if there are few things further apart than love and climate change, I figured out they can affect each other in (sometimes scarily) significant ways.
You might not give a damn about rising seas and melting permafrost, but beware: hotter temperatures might affect action in the bedroom. What a bummer! In a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US a couple years back, three researchers found indications that exceptionally hot days lead to a reduction in birth rates nine months later. To put it in the authors own words: “Extreme heat could raise the physiological cost of coitus on a given fertile day, leading to a shift in coital frequency to some subsequent day(s).” In layman’s words: when it’s too hot to bang, people usually catch up later. But postponing the sex doesn’t make up entirely for the decline, as the study of US birth rates between 1931 and 2010 suggests.