DISTURBING CHANGES to the world’s climate over the past three decades is now one of the most important challenges governments and scientists are facing.
Most ecologists, climatologists and meteorologists agree that the evidence for climate change is irrefutable and the burning question now is not whether it is happening, but how fast it is happening, and are we too late to turn the tide.
As part of a drive to make the Portuguese public more aware of the problem, the British Council, in conjunction with the University of Lisbon’s National Museum of Natural History and the British Embassy, has launched a photographic exhibition, entitled ‘NorthSouthEastWest’, which illustrates the problems the human race faces, as a result of global warming and industrial pollution.
The dramatic photographs speak for themselves, although it is worth mentioning that if the current levels of carbon dioxide, monoxide, methane, fluorine and other toxic gases continue to be pumped into the atmosphere at the present rate, the polar caps will melt, the earth will continue heating up and sea levels will rise by around 88-100cm.
The results of climate change for Portugal are already too apparent with annual forest fires, deforestation in the interior of the country, lack of rainfall and the North African desert encroaching year by year on the Algarve.
“Climate change is something that we cannot have any doubts about, because scientists say it is a fact,” said Tomás Meneses of the British Council. “We’re thinking about solutions, about what governments and citizens can do to encourage saving water, using less electricity, promoting responsible waste disposal and using public transport instead of personal vehicles.”
Meneses continued: “The photo exhibition is not only alerting people to the fact that the climate is changing fast; it also aims to explain that, by adopting new ways, they can make a difference.”
Rui Milagre of environmental group Quercus said: “We are working on a national level, through our various regional groups, to try to change the mentality of the government, local councils and the general public.”
“We are actively involved in various studies with universities on how climate change is affecting Portugal. We think that everyone can make a difference,” he said. “We waste a lot of our precious energy and water resources, and, unfortunately, use them poorly and inefficiently.”
He went on to advise local councils: “Câmaras can reuse water, after it has been treated, instead of using pure water and then throwing it away.”
The exhibition is being held at the University of Lisbon’s National Museum of Natural History (Museu Nacional de História Natural da Universidade de Lisboa), located at Rua da Escola Politécnica, 58. It will be open to the public until July 23, Monday to Friday, from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Saturday open from 3pm to 6pm. Chris Graeme
• Also read article on p50 about another recent project carried out by the University of Lisbon’s National Museum of Natural History.