"We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making"
The above text is copied from Extinction Rebellion website https://rebellion.earth/, an international organisation calling for a rebellion against climate breakdown.
You may think they are dramatising a bit just to get our attention. Personally I fear that they may be right and during my trip I have also seen evidence of climate change.
(image below, august 2019) Loire river in France is almost dried up.
The locals never saw it this low before...
(image below) Large areas of forest in Portugal in the area of Figueira da Foz have been burned away in recent years. People living in this area told me that they noticed a climate change after the fires. This may be an example of a "positive feedback"; the effects of warming are causing even more warming. Other examples of positive feedback loops are : dissapearing sea ice and the melting of perma frost that releases methane.
As an engineer I prefer to think in solutions rather than problems. The technology is already available, just read : https://www.drawdown.org/ In only six hours the deserts of the world receive as much energy from the sun as humankind consumes in a whole year (https://www.desertec.org). Imagine the energy that all cars, all ships, planes, heaters, coolers, and the entire industry of the world consume. This means the solution to our problems is shining down on us. Just a small portion of the Sahara could power all of Europe and bring CO2 emissions down to zero.
This is what our governments should now focus on because it has become a matter of survival. As an individual you can also contribute by making different choices : cycle more often, buy a smaller car, eat less meat, invest in house insulation, fly less etc. You will become more independent from the system and will have a more comfortable life. Just like me leaning backward on my recumbent bicycle, peddling with little effort around Europe and waving at all those surprised faces.
On my way I sometimes meet interesting people who are also working on their own solution. Like this man on Boulevard in Biarritz who made his own solar powered tricycle. He just played his guitar for a few hours while filling up his battery. Not owning a car saves him a lots of money.
.. and this couple in Portugal with their own sun-tracking (rotating in two directions) panel in their backyard.
While cycling in Portugal I have seen several private houses with such tracking systems which are I have never seen in the Netherlands. It is considered a big investment but one that pays off well. Not only in money but also the feeling of being independant.