PART ONE – DENMARK. Climate change as seen by citizens from around the world

With ravaging forest fires across Canada and other natural disasters here and across the globe, climate change is something Canadians are hearing a lot about these days. But are regular folks in other countries hearing and thinking about it in the same way? How are they feeling about the threat of a changing climate? Do they care?

Sustainable Orillia reached out to people in Denmark, Brazil, India and Canada to ask what they—and people in their circles—are thinking, feeling and doing about climate change in their various corners of the world.

We asked each of them to respond to three questions:

1. Are people in your circle concerned about climate change?

2. How do you personally perceive climate change?

3. What’s happening in your community? (Are there specific changes being made in response to the threats posed by climate change? Have you personally made any changes?)

Their responses will be featured in a series of articles in, starting with this first one about Ellen Larsen of Denmark.
While Denmark’s total carbon footprint is relatively low compared to other EU countries, the results per household suggests that Danes, as individuals, may be consuming more carbon than they think. Denmark’s “Earth Overshoot Day” (March 28) makes it the 15th earliest country to mark it. This means that, if Denmark were the whole planet, it would use up an entire year’s worth of resources in a little less than three months according to the calculations of think-tank Global Footprint Network.

Ellen Larsen lives in Esbjerg, a seaport town on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in southwest Denmark. It is the fifth-largest city in Denmark, and home to 72,000 people. Until the harbour was developed in the 1860s, the area was sparsely inhabited with just a few farms.Ellen has four grown children and several grandchildren. Here are her responses to Sustainable Orillia’s three questions.

Are people in your circle concerned about climate change?

Ellen: “Most people in my circle are quite worried about pollution and the climate situation. We often talk about it. My family in general are actually good at sorting waste. Here, where I live, we have quite a few standing containers so that we can sort our waste. The housing association collects our bulky waste twice a month. However, my own observations tell me that there is still a long way to go before everyone understands the seriousness of this.”

How do you perceive the threats of climate change, personally?

Ellen: “I am afraid of the result in the future. The world leaders and people in general are taking too long to react – too long to do something. I think about it a lot.”
What changes have you made in your own life in response to the threats of climate change?

Ellen: “Personally, I am very particular about all my waste being sorted down to the smallest detail. I’m glad I don’t have a car. I use our electric buses and the trains (also electric). I do walking and biking. Thinking about not using unnecessary electricity and water has really become a way of life for me.

“I have eaten very little meat and dairy products for many years, primarily because it is not healthy, but now I also think that I contribute a little to a better climate by avoiding too much of these things.

“I do laundry once or twice every two weeks. I have never had a tumble dryer. I hang my clothes out on a clothesline in the garden. I only buy clothes and such when necessary. I’m not an impulse buyer at all. I don’t own a motorised lawnmower either – I mow my small lawn by hand.

“My garden grows a little wild. I also try to protect our insect population, which has declined unbelievably and alarmingly. I don’t kill any insects if I can avoid it. The decreasing population of insects has also meant that the population of birds has fallen drastically. We cannot live without our insects and birds.

“I have come to think very differently in several areas and try to teach it to my grandchildren.
I feel good about doing these things and am really deeply concerned about our climate situation. I fear the future in that respect for my children and their families. What kind of world are we entering? It is unsafe and disturbing.

“Probably there are more things I can do, but I don’t quite know right now what that would be – apart from signing up for an organization like yours.”

Like the others who responded to Sustainable Orillia’s questions, Ellen speaks only for herself. While all respondents in our series are aware of the threat of climate change, they offer a variety of solutions.

How do people in other parts of the world respond to climate change? How do their responses compare with those of Orillia citizens? See other perspectives in future articles in this series, titled “Climate change as seen by citizens from around the world”.   You’ll find the links below to other articles and perspectives in this series.

Part 2 – From Brazil  (Click here)

Part 3 – From India.  (Click here)

Part 4 – From Orillia  (Coming Soon)

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