In this interview during the opening ceremony of IYBSSD, Thijs van Kolfschoten, President, International Union for Quaternary Research, called on world politicians to pledge financing scientists to do qualitative research.
On Climate change and INQUA
We see a lot of changes in the climate in the past. So we can learn how animals react ; do they they migrate, they get extinct or they evolve. Now, these kind of things you want to know. And knowledge is the base to make your decisions.
I’m here representing the INQUA. INQUA is the International Union for Quaternary Research. We are investigating the past two and a half million years of history of the globe, of the earth. So we are looking at climate change, about geological changes, about mountain changes and also the landscape.
What links can you make between your research and the sustainable development ?
Of course, we are interested in how the faune and the biomes changed during time and what is the natural component in that and what is the human component, especially during the past thousands of years. But it’s very important to understand the natural component, also to see what will happen in the future, to make the right decisions, what to do, dealing now with the increase of temperature. What is the effect of increasing temperature in the past? To know the past is very crucial to make the right decision for the future. So that’s what I’m doing.
Can the Earth’s past tell us about its future?
We have also a lot of changes in the climate in the past, so we we can learn how animals react, do they migrate, they get extinct or they evolve. Now, these kind of things you want to know and knowledge is the base to make your decisions.
What is your dearest wish for this coming year?
The Holy Grail, I think, will be that we as different unions cooperate to get more projects financed, to do basic research, and to get this knowledge we need to make the right décisions. Not in a matter of « I think » no. I « know » that’s what we have to do and « know » we need support from each other, but also from politicians to make the right decisions for financing young scientists to do this research.
Interview by Laurent Orluc