On February 24, 2018, at the ice rink in Wolnica Square, in the heart of Krakow’s Kazimierz district, the climate action “Skaters for the Climate” took place, organized by the Aeris Futuro Foundation. The partner of the event was the Krakow Festival Office.
The polar bear time slalom was a metaphor for the real situation – we must race against time to stop the rise in average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. Otherwise we face irreversible catastrophic changes… and when the glaciers melt, the bears will disappear.
The aim of the event was to educate for protection against climate change, which also affects us in the form of the phenomenon of “snow poverty” observed year after year, i.e. less and less snow during the winter season. Organizing a climate event at the ice rink was intended to raise awareness that one of our favorite winter sports: ice skating, may soon be in question.
The Aeris Futuro Foundation’s influence goes a long way, as the snowy weather was already unusually good during the event, joked Slalom participants. However, no one was particularly bothered by the frost, thanks to dynamic games on the ice to the rhythm of folk music, the enthusiasm of the participants and the hot aromatic tea served at the Foundation’s stand. Both the youngest and adults took part in the skating frenzy. And since the best education is through fun, participants had the opportunity to deepen their climate knowledge by taking part in a thematic quiz with unique ecological prizes. Promoting good practices, such as: why, as a means of transportation, it is worth choosing a bus instead of a car or how to do ecological shopping, were the substance of the message of the organized happening. The Aeris Futuro Foundation, also celebrating its 12th birthday, once again convinced many people that it is worth making a personal effort to protect the environment, which is our common good.
The last decade has seen a shortage of natural snow, or so-called “snow poverty.” The progressive increase in the average temperature of the globe is the reason that snowy winters occur less and less frequently, and the natural white fluff lingers on the slopes for a much shorter period of time. It is the large year-to-year variation in the number of days with snow cover that is a clear indicator of climate change of the winter period. “The price of snow” is conventionally called the total costs that the world has to pay for the diminishing snow supply. On the one hand, they involve losses in ecosystems, especially mountainous ones, and on the other hand, they involve financial losses. Snow and ice are of great importance in shaping the Earth’s average temperatures. They absorb only about 15% of the energy provided by the sun, while a land or body of water devoid of them absorbs up to 90%, thus heating up strongly.
What can be done?
1) Use less coal, oil and gas – Most greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere by power plants, industry and transportation. Heating buildings is blamed for 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Those who use energy efficiently and reduce consumption of fuel resources protect the climate.
2) Own electricity generation – Electricity does not have to come from coal or gas power plants. There are alternatives, and they are affordable for many pockets. An analysis of the solar potential of all the rooftops in Krakow was done. If we installed photovoltaic panels on all of them, we would be able to produce 2 times more electricity than the entire electricity demand of the city’s residents.
3) Let’s promote and support ecological innovations, there are already more and more of them among municipalities, companies or cooperatives. Solar parks are an interesting example – they are springing up in small municipalities in Germany or the Czech Republic – they produce energy for their own use, and sell the surplus. They create many new so-called green jobs.
4) Let’s create incentives – residents of Germany have tax breaks for having energy-efficient homes or greenery instead of paving stones on their properties. It would be worthwhile for Poland to follow suit.
5) Let’s close off the flow of money to “polluters” – More and more people, pension funds, insurance companies, universities and cities are withdrawing their assets from companies that use mining resources.
6) Leave the car, get on a bike – Bicycles and public transportation reduce CO2 emissions. Compared to a car, a bus saves 5 times more emissions, an electric train – up to 15 times. In Amsterdam, most residents ride bicycles. City authorities in Krakow are creating an adequate network of bicycle paths – more at ibikekrakow.com, among others.
7) Not necessarily by airplane – Air transportation is particularly harmful to the climate. The numbers show the dilemma: In order to meet global climate goals, each inhabitant of the earth should not cause emissions higher than 5.9 t of CO2 per year. One flight from Berlin to New York and back causes emissions of 6.5 t. CO2 per person.
8) Let’s limit meat consumption – Agriculture also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Rice cultivation and the digestive tracts of cows, sheep and goats produce climate-killing methane. Meat consumption should also be viewed critically, as it takes soybeans, among other things, to fatten animals. For its production, tropical forests are being cleared, disrupting the Earth’s entire ecosystem.
9) Let’s buy eco – Artificial fertilization of agricultural crops on an industrial scale produces diazotium oxide, which is particularly harmful to the atmosphere. It is also created in power plants and engines. In eco-agriculture, only natural fertilization is used, which is associated with lower emissions of this gas into the atmosphere. Choose products from reliable farmers and those with certified organic production.
10) Eco-building and conscious consumption – The production of steel and cement produces a lot of CO2. By contrast, in the production of wood or bamboo, plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. Those who opt for natural building materials help protect the climate. The same applies to consumption: the more energy-efficient it is, the better for the environment.