biologist and talentJournalist Dirk Draulans will try to focus more on positive stories in 2023 to promote social transmission
The last animal I saw in 2022 was a bat. And not just any creature that flew was lost on New Year’s Eve: it seemed to be actively foraging over the stream in front of the house. That was very strange, but not surprising given that New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were the warmest in living memory. Previous records were from last year. For those who still doubt: the Earth is getting warmer! And bats feel it.
The rest of nature, too: sparrows in the park explore breeding boxes, magpies inspect old nests, and nuthatches show their first signs of bloom. It’s all very early, of course. Not only did we lose the north, we also lost nature.
The end of the year was stormy and gray, which was symbolic on two levels. First, global warming is making our weather more extreme, with very dry summers and very wet winters, both of which can cause problems. Both seasons have become less pleasant for humans and many other animals. Not infrequently, treatment is required to reduce the nuisance – a nuisance that would not exist without global warming.
The stormy end of the year could also symbolize the rollercoaster that was 2022. What was that again? It seems that with more extreme weather, human society has also become (even) more extreme. Many uncertainties – energy, purchasing power, globalization, inequality … – make people interested and seem less inclined to interact amicably with one another. Whether it got under the skin or not, animosity seems to be a pretty common part of it these days.
The basic message is clear: everyone must join the transition, at all levels, from ordinary Flemish people to our governments and the rest of the world. Otherwise, we wouldn’t.
Fortunately, we managed to get the Corona crisis under control, although a health catastrophe is now looming in China. This shows how our scientists and decision makers have worked meticulously to manage the virus crisis in our country, thanks to the rapid development of effective vaccines and the start of effective vaccination campaigns. Unfortunately, here too: if you dare to point it out, you will be exposed to so much scum by uninformed people who know everything that they think they have to show themselves everywhere, even in court. They just do it, it blunders in the margins, the facts tell the real story, and this is a success story.
Even worse, human society seems unable to avoid being run here and there by idiots who have no interest in the good of the world, but who go after pseudo-historical and other ghosts in order to… well, why? What is the point of firing missiles at a population that can only suffer from it, since a megalomaniac can unhindered trigger a mech to terrorize others? Why can’t people manage countries like Afghanistan or regions like eastern Congo in a way that doesn’t plunge their people into terror and abject poverty? Apparently, the evil that mankind carries is so powerful that it can seize power here and there and spread itself, like a cancer of society. Cancer is notoriously elusive, even to the most eminent of scientists.
Elsewhere, “leaders” are guilty of negligence in not wanting to see our planet spiral toward a catastrophe that will make life virtually impossible for many species—our own included. The many forms of pollution and especially global warming are beginning to manifest themselves so strongly that the prosperity on which they rest is threatened by the excessive use of fossil fuels and other “resources” that the Earth provides us. The current generation is not really any better than the previous one, but this trend will only get stronger if we fail to turn the tide.
“Draulans, you have to be more constructive about the efforts that are being made, or else you threaten to force people into a crippling fatalism: that nothing can be done about it.” I get told about this regularly, for example, when I don’t show faith in flimsy agreements made by “the world” on climate and biodiversity summits to do something about derailing. Sadly, I can’t help you, because there are always those damn “truths” that many hate so much because they just don’t fit in their mental box. The facts are that despite the agreements reached at climate summits, we are on course to increase the global temperature by at least 2.4°C and possibly more than 3°C compared to pre-industrial levels. And the fact is that to achieve the recent summits on biological diversity, we will need not eight years, as was promoted there, but eighty years!
We must hold on to success stories and hope they inspire.
But it’s New Year’s Day, so we’re bound to formulate goodwill. I bear in mind a nice suggestion neuroscientist Chris D. Meyer made in my Christmas interview talent Launched and defended: that the best way to get people to take action on, say, fighting the climate crisis is to show that everything is really happening, that they should just hang their wagon on the train that has already left.
You regularly see great initiatives, especially on a smaller scale: the lower the level of social organization, the better it seems to succeed in working in a way that protects nature and the environment, despite the constant stirring of lobbies that don’t want it. Participate in an environmentally friendly social transition of people because it doesn’t fit in their trunk. The basic message is clear: everyone must join the transition, at all levels, from ordinary Flemish people to our governments and the rest of the world. Otherwise, we wouldn’t.
We must hold on to success stories and hope they inspire. Above all, we must hope that the need for action will become so urgent that no one can pretend nothing has happened. Finally, the inveterate optimist in me keeps stirring. Sometimes he whispers in my ear that mankind has regularly shown that it is capable of radically changing course if it is really necessary. That is why it is so important to continue to insist on the fact that it is really necessary. Maybe we’ll do that later.
Therefore, I would like to wish you a constructive and not too hectic year 2023. And I am still grateful for the support in the struggle – I need it. I resolve to fight a little less against the many miscreants who are doing all they can to slow down the transition, and focus more on the people who are actually working constructively toward a better world. The morning of January 1, 2023 gave the example: less windy and less gray than the end of 2022. There is always symbolism if you need a boost!