I

f you have questions, it may be time to decide what you think, and more important, what you think you can do.

When we look around, check the news, see what’s happening around the world, and often very near to home, we should be asking questions. The recent floods in Germany and Belgium, closing underground stations, I can’t remember anything of this nature happening before. One science magazine said, “Europe’s deadly floods leave scientists stunned”.

In London, Whipps Cross Hospital in the northeast cancelled all planned surgery and outpatient appointments on Monday 26 July after basement flooding damaged its electrical systems and was diverting ambulances to other hospitals nearby.

What about Portugal?

This summer in Portugal has been unusual. In the Algarve, June and July will normally have some very hot days, up to 40˚c and worse, at least some hot and humid nights. We may still get this in August, but the pattern of the summer heat has been different. According to analysis of global weather stations by Berkeley Earth, 2020 was Europe’s hottest year since records began over 300 years ago.

You may believe, as many do, that all this is simply the nature of weather, over a period of years weather patterns change. That may be true. Few scientists believe this.

The difficult question is, if I do believe in global warming, what can I do about it? Perhaps you think this is a problem for politicians and scientists to sort out. Is that simply abdicating any responsibility? We elect the politicians, and they listen, or not, to the scientists.

What is Portugal doing about global warming?

Portugal is doing well, probably better than you imagined. According to Euractive, https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/portugal-breaks-100-renewables-mark-but-remains-isolated/ Portugal produced more power from clean energy sources in March than it actually needed, marking the first time in the 21st century that renewables have topped 100 percent of its production. Green MEP Claude Turmes praised Portugal’s “impressive” progress.

The Guardian recently reported, ‘Electricity consumption in the country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday’.

Two parks for the low-cost production of green hydrogen, with technology developed in Portugal and considered “innovative and pioneering” in the world, are being installed in the municipality of Évora. https://www.theportugalnews.com/news/2021-07-30/pioneering-green-hydrogen-production/61369.

Repsol has announced that it will expand its industrial complex in Sines, Portugal, to make it one of the most advanced in Europe. The company said it will build two polymer materials plants at its Sines site, which it highlighted represents the largest industrial investment in Portugal in the last ten years at $779 million (EUR 657 million). The plants comprise a linear polyethylene (PEL) plant and a polypropylene (PP) plant, each with a capacity of 300,000 tons per year. Repsol outlined that they will produce 100 recyclable materials that can be used for applications in the pharmaceutical, automotive and food industries.

Portugal is doing a lot, its generally rated as the third most advanced in Europe in tackling global warming and sustainable energy. What about you?

Can you make a difference?

Given that you are not denying global warming, what can you do, and can you make any difference. I would suggest we stop looking at what you personally can do and start to think what we can do together. Today’s culture can tend to make us think more about ourselves and our right to independent action, based on what best for us personally.

Here are some ideas on what you could do. Change your lights to an LED type. Drive less, (easier said than done, especially of you live in an area with limited public transport). Recycle more, most councils in Portugal have installed eco islands everywhere, there is bound to be one near you. It does take a little effort, but it will make a difference. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. An electric car would be good, but they are prohibitively expensive and there is still a lack of accessible charging points.

Perhaps more controversial, you could become a vegetarian or even a vegan. Both these groups argue that consumption of meat, or even fish, is harmful to the planet. The claims of both vegans and vegetarians is freely available on the web. I am not personally convinced though I do accept the argument that we should be consuming much less red meat and be more careful with our diets. A few years ago I hadn’t met a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. Now I know a lot of people who think this way.

If you want to see how your high or low your plastic footprint is: https://repurpose.global/survey. It will take you a couple of minutes, but it’s very informative.

This site: https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/ has some helpful ideas, it’s from Canada, but its relevant to us all.

This is not everybody else’s problem, its ours!

Climate activist David Suzuki says: In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.