Adrien de Gerlache, Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook and their multinational crew set on their scientific Antartic expedition on their ship called Belgica from Antwerp on 16 August 1897.
Their plans were changed by an accident as they got trapped in ice and they had to overwinter onboard. Despite tough conditions (not enough clothing, lack of food, diseases....) they managed to cover large area of Antarctic and collected a significant amount of scientific data including a full year of meteorological observations. The expedition returned to Antwerp on 5 November 1899.
I got to learn about this achievement and strong will and effort of the crew while I was taking part at kick off event of Thinkaboutit3 in Brussels. I did some sightseeing for which I decided to use public transport in Brussels and discovered metro station called Belgica with many pictures and posters on its walls.
Since 1897 when Belgica sailed to Antartic has passed a century. Explorers would be probably surprised that “the average temperature increase on the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapid on Earth – 2,5ºC between 1960 and 2008. Global warming has caused approximately 14,000 km² of floating ice shelves to break off the continent between 1974 and 2008. That is almost half the surface area of Belgium!” (Quote from the poster in Belgica metro station.)
Brussels makes its inhabitants aware of climate change and how they can help to sustain their city. “Between 1999 and 2008, the number of passengers on their STIB network rose by more than 75%. Using public network helps to reduce CO2 emissions and fight climate change. Thanks to STIB customers, 100,000 tons less of CO2 is emitted into our atmosphere each year.” (Quote from the poster in Belgica metro station.)
To me Brussels is a very good example for how municipalities and governments take the opportunity and inform their citizens about important issues such as climate change in a very creative way – interior design of one their metro stations. If you read the info which matters to you every day it is most likely you begin to act. You start thinking about it and you even go further and make some changes in your attitudes and behaviours.
We are called information generation. Information has incredible power these days. Our governments should take advantage of that and inform us more about many things including Millenium Development Goals. Not only they should act upon them as they promised to do so, but they should also help us citizens to be aware of them.
We, us “average person” can do a lot. We can establish NGO and make a significant change in a very concrete matter. There are NGOs that build schools in a specific areas in Africa, or collect glasses that are not fashionable for us any more, and distribute them in parts of the world where they are happy the have them and do not care much about latest fashions.
All big changes contain of many little things. A big thing can start even on metro platform on your way to work.