Have yourself an environmentally friendly Christmas

December is here, and very soon, so is Christmas. So here, in this blog post, I will give you a few reccomendations on how to make your entire Christmas celebration more green. 

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1. Chose public transportation when you are traveling to get home. For a lot of us, Christmas means traveling back to where your family live. This can be a pleasant start to your holiday. Remember, you can still listen to "Driving home for Christmas" - from a train ;)  

2. When shopping for Christmas presents to your loved ones, consider these guiding questions:

- Is this something the recipient explicitly has said they want or need? If not, dont buy it. 

- Is it a possibility to buy the item used? Remember when we learnt about why circular economy is good for the environment? 

3. If your friend or family member says that they don't actually wish for any more material goods, a great gift that you could be giving is an experience! There are so many alternatives here, only your imagination sets the limits. It could be anything from a concert, trip to the cinema or possibly a journey you've both wanted to take. A study from 2010 in Norway showed that the majority of the people asked, actually wanted experiences over things

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4. A lot of the traditional Christmas foods tends to be meat based. This article explains how eating meat is actually more damaging than a long distance flight.  'A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York' .Those numbers are shocking, but true. Therefore, making more of your Christmas meals green is a good place to start. 

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There are numerous other things you could be doing to save the environment over Christmas, but these ones; letting your car stay at home, don't buy things you or others don't need, and choosing to eat green over meat, are the key ones to remember. 

With wishes that you will have a green (and white) Christmas! 

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Buy nothing - repair something

This week's Black Friday frenzy has luckily also brought out the Green Friday/Buy Nothing Day movement. My Facebook feed has been full of articles advocating that you rather go out in nature instead of to shopping mals, as this initiative that American national parks made to make their parks free this day.  

However, as I have become quite well aware of, seeing as my year of 2017 - ShopStop is soon coming to an end; materials break - and sometimes beyond repair. Massive sales as Black Friday is only constructive if you buy something you truly need, that can not be bought used or otherwise obtained. Most of the time, this is the case; that you are able to find the item you "need" somewhere else than in a shiny wrapping showcased with good lighting, and even better advertising. 

When you start asking questions to why you need to continue to follow this commercial order of things, you come to realise there are so many alternatives of how to save money, free up your own time and save the environment all at once. Did you for example know that it takes 10.000 litres of water to produce one single pair of jeans? Knowing this, in addition to some other water facts: Only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater and only 0.3% is accessible to humans. 

Underneath is a picture from the site Good On You that shows how the Aral Sea in Central Asia dried up due to the unsustainable cotton industry in the area. You dont want to be part of this. 

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That is why I chose to repair rather than buying a new pair of blue jeans when my current pair broke last week. These jeans are under 2 years old, so I am not ready to give them up. It only took a few stitches and then their life span was prolonged again. Another pair, some brown chinos type of trousers, that are actually 10 years old also broke this week (a bad week for trousers in my household). These however were worn thin by the fabric, but I went to a tailor and asked for some extra fabric to repair them. I brought with me my the trouser to show the tailor, and he ended up giving my the fabric I needed to mend it for free! It didnt take much fabric for him, but it was enough for me to be able to give my garment a longer life, and hence reducing my need to replace it. 

I hope this inspired you to repair something you have, that you know needs mending. It is not hard, and you feel better afterwards because you've done the sensible thing for yourself, your economy and the environment. 

 

COP23 Finished

This past week, the historical climate lawsuit has taken place in Oslo District Court, but I will follow that up in next weeks blog post, when the court case is finished. However, another monumental climate event, COP23, finished this week, and this is what we know so far. 

The climate awareness spreading site Climatetracker has put together this helpful infograph to visualise what happened at COP. A positive outcome is that parties (UN lingo for countries) agreed that the processes must move quicker. The main objective, namely creating a way forward with he Paris agreement, was achieved. 

The process forward is called the Tanaloua Dialogue. This is a process that helps each country to hold each other accountable with the emission cuts they promised in the Paris agreement. These emission cuts are referred to as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). However, it turns out that the emissions each country intends to cut is not enough for the world to reach the 2 degree target, and definitely not the 1,5 degree target. Therefore there needs to be a process that reviews and increases these NDCs over time. This is the Tanaloua Dialogue. 

The COP is happening near the end of each year, but in the meantime there is a constant negotiation process going on in the UFCCC. These sessions are referred to as intersessionals, and are also worth following. For an overview of important dates on the climate calendar, have a look at the bottom of this piece from Carbonbrief

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Norway's first climate lawsuit!

Something historical will happen this following week. On Tuesday the 14th of November, in Oslo District Court, the climate article 112 will be tested for the first time ever. The article reads: 

'Every person has the right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources shall be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations which will safeguard this right for future generations as well. The authorities of the state shall take measures for the implementation of these principles'.

This is a brilliant article because it says that the state is responsible for a liveable environment, not just for us, but also for future generations. This means that the actions we make today must be morally just towards the environment because it will affect the environment of the future. 

I believe, and so does the wonderful workplace that I am proud to call my job - Greenpeace, that drilling for more oil, and especially in the Arctic, is not in agreement with this article. We believe that it violates this article, and when the Norwegian government handed out new oil licences for oil drilling in the Arctic, against all environmental advices, that this would not be in the best interests of a liveable climate for the future. 

I first wrote about this lawsuit over a year ago, which you can read here, before I even worked in Greenpeace, because I as a global citizen care about and feel deeply committed to global climate justice and belive in the slogan that 'what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic' - meaning that the oil and gas that is extracted from the Norwegian continental shelf will, when burned somewhere else, further escalate global warming. 

In two days it is finally happening. At 09.00 in Oslo District Court we will meet the states representatives and lay forward our best arguments. I hope with all my heart that we are heard and understood. If we were to win this case, it would set a global precedence. Literally, the world is looking towards Oslo these next two weeks. Here, you can read about it in Al Jazeera. 

There will be a myriad of cultural and other events linked to the lawsuit, that you can attend here, if you are in Oslo. Otherwise, for the best coverage, if you want to follow the court case, I would encourage you to follow Greenpeace Norge on both Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat. Also, follow Klimasøksmål Arktis on Facebook. It will be press coverage in both Norwegian and English. For purely English content, I would recommend following Save The Arctic on Facebook and Greenpeace International. Also, I will do my best to update on social media as well, so find me at The Climate School on Instagram. 

I am so very exited about these two upcoming weeks and I know that there is massive global support to this case. Over 400 000 people have signed up at Save The Arctic to add their names as witness statements. At the same time as this historical lawsuit is taking place in Oslo, there is the COP happening in Bonn, where Norway advocates for ways for create a better climate for the future. By looking towards ourselves first, we could make a significant impact in bettering the climate conditions by being the example that the world so sorely needs. Thank you to everyone that helps bring this message forward in the coming two weeks. 

COP23

Today, COP23 (Conference of the Parties) started. This is the UN's climate negotiations, under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Did I mention that they love abbreviations at COP?

This years COP is taking place in Bonn, Germany, but is hosted by Fiji. This is the first time a small island state is hosting COP. Fiji was the first state to formally ratify the Paris agreement, the global climate agreement from 2015 where almost all nations has come together to limit global warming to 2 degree celsius, but aiming for 1,5 degree celsius. Before coming to COP, Fijis prime minister announced that having a small island state as host would affect this years negotiations. In his opening speech, he also said that: 'It is a message to the world that all 7.5 billion people on earth are in the same canoe. We are all affected by climate change and we all need to act'. This is the very true, even though some states, as small island states will feel the effects of climate change sooner than others. 

The key thing to sort out during this COP is making a 'rulebook' for how the Paris agreement should be implemented, and how states should be able to hold each other accountable and have transparency to see that each other are delivering their set targets. Norway's minister of climate and environment, Vidar Helgesen actually went as far as saying that 'it's a good sign if nothing much is heard from this meeting'. This might be also be a reference to the tense fact that Trump previously this year announced that he was going to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. Formally though, this is a process that takes years, so as per this COP, the US is still in the negotiations. Therefore, the hopes are that they won't try to block good initiatives even though they don't see a reason to helping this planet come together to solve the climate problem. 

Because COP isn't needed less now, it is needed more. 2017 is currently in the lead to become one of the three warmest years currently on record, including that it has been a year with an abnormal amount of extreme weather events all across the globe. Currently, we are on the track for a 3 degree celsius warmer globe, which means that our current efforts are not enough to combat the rising temperatures. 

Another key discussion topic of COP23 is 'loss and damage' - the mechanisms that is compensating developing nations that has done little to cause the climate change, but has been affected the most. 

The outcome that is most desired from COP23 is both getting the 'rulebook' in place for next years negotiations, but also the belief that UN still has a vital part to play in how we organise joint efforts on a global scale to tackle problems facing humanity. This isn't asking for little, but as Christiana Figueres, COP president of the COP21 in Paris said 'Paris (agreement) is everyone’s deal. It belongs to cities, businesses, NGOs and all of global civil society as much as it belongs to nation-states'. Also, it is the best we've got. 

 

H&M burn your clothes

Recently it was made public that the clothing giant H&M is burning away its fast fashion clothes in massive incinirators, when it is not being sold in stores. Since 2013, it is estimated that they have burned 60 tons of clothes.

When asked about it, H&M said it was due to health risks and injured clothes that they had to burn such vast amounts of fabrics, but when the reported conducted tests on the same clothes that were to be burnt, and comparing it with the clothes hanging in the stores, there could be found no differences in toxic levels. 

H&M have a history of not being transparent in the past, still, it is also considered one of the fast fashion brands that does a lot to set some standards for the textile industry. 

It would be great if H&M turned out to be as clean as they say they are, but regardless of H&Ms own initiatives, we can't deny the fact that the textile industry is still full of loopholes for the big companies and that far too much clothes are being produced by textile workers who's earning far too little in order to make a living. This recent scandal casted a light to the fact that not even all the fast fashion is being sold, so that is has to be burnt. This should be a wakeup call for H&M and also it's customers.

Rewilding!

This Sunday's blogpost is about one of the many good alternatives that is being done to make a positive contribution for biodiversity, and with it, the environment; it is called 'rewilding'. The concept is simple - by reintroducing species that has almost died out in an area, the hope is that biodiversity will once again peak and that natural processes and wild species will play a more significant part in how the landscape is build up. 

In Europe, there is an organisation called Rewilding Europe that states their mission as: 'Rewilding Europe wants to make Europe a wilder place. We want much more space for wildlife, wild nature and natural processes. We want to bring back the variety of life for us all to enjoy. And we want to explore new ways for people to earn a fair living from the wild. Let’s make Europe a wilder place together!'. 

One way to achieve this is by reintroducing wildlife, as bison, stags, lynx and wild horses. As biodiversity is in steady decline globally, initiatives like this can make a vital contribution to an area. To get a more visual presentation of the concept, see this video made by Rewilding Europe: 

Indigenous women delegation in Norway to put pressure on the Oilfund

I just felt so inspired that I had to write this blog post tonight, after this evenings event where the women indigenous delegation spoke in Oslo. The main reason for their visit was to meet again with the Ethical Council, that is overlooking the Norwegians Oilfund's investments. The message from the indigenous women is very clear - include human rights and indigenous rights in the guidelines for the Oilfund when it makes its investments. Also, divest (meaning to withdraw your investment) from your investments that is currently breaking with these rights. 

As the last time when the women indigenous delegation was here in March, they told equally strong stories this time on how women, elderly and children who had been at the forefront in the battles at Standing Rock were watered down in sub zero degrees with massive water hose, and how the militarised company that was helping these atrocities take place actually released dogs on the women, children and elderly to let them be bitten! This is inhuman and totally unacceptable behaviour! And when you think about that the very thing they are protecting is their own sacred land and their right to clean drinking water! 

Luckily, there is a massive movement, that is only growing, which speaks up for these crimes against indigenous and humanity itself. For the latest updates on what is currently happening at Standing Rock, I would encourage you to have a look at this site. Today, we were so honoured to have the amazing women from the Women's Earth and Climate Network (WECAN) with us and telling us these stories. You can read their press release here. 

In Norway, the biggest problem is that the Oilfund is so heavily invested in the pipeline called Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). You can read about this in Norwegian here. Until the Ethical Council comes to the conclusion that all the other Norwegian banks has concluded - that there are being committed crimes that breaks with human rights and indigenous rights in the DAPL project, the indigenous will keep coming back adding pressure and giving more evidence of these crimes being committed. 

This is an ongoing story, and only a (short) update for now, but at least this is where Norway could make a difference. For other banks that are still invested in these destructive projects, the message is clear - divest! 

Third quarter of 2017 on shopstop

September is coming to and end, and so is the third quarter of my year on shopstop. For new readers, this is the rational behind it. 

Reviewing what I thought would be challenges, I mentioned the constant consumer pressure that you are exposed to. To be honest, this has been a lot easier than I thought it would be! If you are planning to attempt a project like this I can give a few tip of advice: 

1. Remove yourself from the constant temptation - meaning for example; dont spend significant amounts of time walking in clothing stores or browsing online.

2. Also, it can be a handy tip to unsubscribe to newsletters that are sent to you daily, like H&M does. You probably dont realise, but this way of marketing really gets under your skin, if you dont fight back. 

3. If your presens on social media channels, like Facebook and Instagram, is constantly bombarding you with commercials, because you are in a target audience group, like I must have been - chose to hide or block it. You are allowed to chose who influence you. 

As previously mentioned, it only gets easier the more time that passes. However, I would encourage you to make it easier on yourself by not letting yourself be overexposed to the clothing industries constant commercials. 

We are now moving into early autumn, which means another cold season. I started this project in January, so I already know I will be fully equipped for the coldest part of the year. 3 months remains of the project, and the last review will come towards the end of the year.

 

 

 

An Inconvenient Sequel

Today I had the pleasure of being invited to the pre-screening of the new Al Gore movie 'An Inconvenient Sequel', the follow up to the climate awakening 'An Inconvenient Truth'. You can see the trailer here. 

The movie concentrates on the year following up to, and during, the Paris climate negotiations, and up until Trump became president. The movie presents you with several clips of climate catastrophes, which at least for me made me feel on how incredibly unjust the effects of climate change are, and how those who have done the least to contribute are those who suffer the most. 

On a more positive note though, Al Gore has spent the 11 years since 'An Inconvenient Truth' to build up a league of climate educators. This were one of the more uplifting parts of the movie. For more resources about this, please follow this link.  

Furthermore, what I was left with after watching this was how impactful a strong climate movie really can be. I remember seeing 'An Inconvenient Truth' in a biology lessons in college when I was 17, and only the year previous had I joined Nature and Youth, which was the start of my climate journey. With how strongly I felt about it then, and also now, I would actually highly recommend my readers to this week; use movies as a way of educating yourself on the climate. Did you catch Leonardo DiCaprios 'Before The Flood' last year? If not, I would actually encourage you to watch all three of them. 

I fear that some people are afraid of discussing climate related topics out of the doubt that they do not know enough about the subject. I would argue that all of these three movies gives you a fair overview of what has and is happening on the overall climate scene these past few years. In November we will see another UN climate conference (COP), this time in Bonn, so do watch, and do participate in the climate debate! 

 

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What we think about when we try not to think about global warming

Environmental book recommendation of ‘Det vi tenker på når vi prøver å ikke tenke på global oppvarming’ (What we think about when we try not to think about global warming) by Per Espen Stoknes

I must begin with saying that I am happy that this book recommendation can not do justice to reading the book yourself - and that’s a really good thing! Because this is actually, as the book says on the back 'The most important book of the year!'.

The author of the book, Per Espen Stoknes, is both a psychologist and economist, and in this book he presents us with the five key psychological mechanisms that prevents us from acting on climate change. Luckily, he also provides us with new strategies about how we should talk about climate change, and also how detrimental some of the communication around climate change can be. 

There are three main parts of the book: ‘Thinking’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Being’. In ‘Thinking’, the book starts of by thoroughly describing why there are climate deniers and sceptics to climate science. The key findings in this chapter, and also why there are psychological barriers towards climate action is summed up in: 

  1. 1.Distance - the climate cause feels distant to us, ‘it doesn't concern me, yet’. 
  2. 2.Doomsday - with impending doom soon on your hands, it’s easy to feel defeated. 
  3. 3.Dissonance - when we know that the use of fossil fuels amplifies climate change, but we continue to drive our petrol based cars, it can create a dissonance that is uncomfortable to handle. This dissonance is relieved by starting to doubt or trivialise the facts (that our lifestyle created the problem) 
  4. 4.Denial - when we deny the facts, we use it as a tactic to protect ourselves from fear or guilt. By denying climate change altogether, it is easier to lift yourself to the same level as those ‘preaching’ climate facts to you, and rather ridicule them, as a mean of self defence. 
  5. 5.Identity - we look for information that confirms our personal and political values and beliefs, and when the political side you identifies with either express that they believe or do not believe in climate change, it is easier for you to let your cultural identity belief be mirrored, than opposing this. 

However - there are good ways to combat these identified traits to why some denies climate change, and these tactics are described in part 2 - ‘Doing’. The main message here stars of with: Turn the barriers upside down - 

  1. Find a way to make climate change feel close, human, personal and urgent (the opposite from distance). 
  2. Use supportive framing that does not evoke negative emotions (doomsday). 
  3. Create opportunities for a simple and visible climate action (reduces dissonance) 
  4. Avoid emotions as fear, guilt, and the need for self protection (reduces the need for denial) 
  5. Reduce the cultural and political polarising of climate change (to reduce the need to protect your identity) 

From a climate communication perspective, which is my daytime job, this information is golden! Knowing how to not create a ‘them and us’ worldview is vital information when the goal is for climate science to be globally accepted. 

The two main remaining aspect of this first strategy also includes: 

  1. Stick to the positive strategies - whatever we communicate about the climate - the message should be inspiring, sympathetic, and stimulate to togetherness. A solution works so much better when people actually wants it, rather than having it implemented by guilt or fear of repercussions. 
  2. Act as a global citizen, not as a individual - we get further when we act towards societal change, rather than as separate individuals. That being said, we do need those individual acts, as recycling, but it’s when more people join in that a movement is created. 

Based on this, the book presents us with five new strategies to present climate change: 

  1. Social - use the power of social networks. The best communicators for an idea is someone you look up to or identify with, be it a cultural influencer or a celebrity. This strategy has been successfully used in AIDS campaigns in South-Africa and anti smoking campaigns in the US. The same logic can be applied in communication climate science. In already established communities as sports clubs, organisations etc - find out who different communities looks up to, and let them be spokespeople to their own communities.  
  2. Supportive - use lingual framing that supports the message with positive feelings. Talk about the opportunities to a better life, innovation and job opportunities. Talk about how it promotes better health and wellbeing, how it is better to be prepared and ready for the risk of climate, than staying passive. Talk about it as values for our joint cause. 
  3. Simple - make it simple and practical to act climate friendly. Use ‘green nudges’ as means to making the green choice the simplest.
  4. Story-based - use the force of stories to create meaning and togetherness. We need the vision of how the green future will look like, therefore - tell better climate stories. Avoid the apocalyptic narrative and rather talk about green growth, happiness and the good life, ecological restoration and nature ethics. Also, when you tell the stories, make them personal, personified and concrete. Give them life and make them extraordinary. Visualise, don’t explain. Make them fun and vibrant with a strong narrative and use of emotions and drama. 
  5. Signals - use social indicators that visualise society respons to the climate crisis. Integrate the climate communication with new progress as indicators as towards green growth. 

All in all, this is a very optimistic book, and with fear of that this blog post is going to be too long, I will refrain from covering part 3 ‘Being’. I will just say this, you want to read this book, as it provides you with a lot more visuals and examples than I could cover in this brief overview of what the book contain of ideas. 

While reading it, and after, I have felt a renewed hope in communicating climate science. If Stoknes aim for this book was to spread hope around our joint climate, I will definitely say that he succeeded. 10 out of 10, I can strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in climate, psychology, even economics or communication. 

Thank you for reading this longer than usual blogpost, and remember to talk positively when communicating about the climate. 

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Climate March!

This weeks blog post is a little different, however, I hope you'll find it inspiring. It's about one of the many ways that you can contribute towards a greener and more environmentally friendly society.

Today, there is a big climate march happening in Oslo. I am helping to organise it, so as soon as this blog post goes up, I will head down to the Oslo central station to help out. If you are in Oslo, and have this afternoon free, do come and join us, this is the Facebook event.

The march is the work of a broad coalition, raning from the environmental movement to the religious movement, workers union and scientists. In addition, there will be appeals by author Karl Ove Knausgård and Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. 

The reason why its good to come to these kinds of marches is both to see for yourself that you are part of a much broader movement than you probably knew. Also, it is very good to show our politicians how many people who actually do care and are concerned about the environment. 

Our three major banners this year says "No Arctic Oil", ""Show Climate Justice" and "100.000 new climate jobs". These are our demands, in addition to that we want the upcoming Norwegian election (happening on the 11th of September) must be a tide turn for the environment. We want it to be a climate election. 

So if you are around in Oslo today and want to get some inspiration and feel how broad this movement is, I strongly encourage you to come. We will be marching from the Oslo central Station at 13.00 and end up in front of the Parliament where the appeals will be held. 

 

Circular economy - why it is good for the planet

You've might come across the term 'circular economy' while reading, but what does it really entail? And how is it helping the planet? I hope you will get some of these answers after reading this blog post. 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a foundation founded to accelerate the transition to a more circular economy, defines it as 'Looking beyond the current "take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model, the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design. Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimising negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital' .

Put simply; todays economic model isn't sustainable - what can we do about it? In a circular economy we no longer think about a product linearly, hence the name circular. This is understood as a 'produce, use and throw away' linear model. In the circular model, the aim is for the product to stay within the economy for as long as possible. This longevity can even mean that the product no longer servers the use it was initially intended to. 

In the broadest understanding of the concept of circular economy, there will be no more waste. We have finite resources, and within this economic model, waste is actually seen as a resource. In the process of better waste management and recycling, this economic model also aims at upcycling (creatively reusing something), having stricter standards for product design and material usage, and find smarter ways to run a business. 

The overall aim for this economic model is to find smart alternatives. We know that resources are finite, sometimes even scarce, and we know that the Earth has its own limits to what it can handle. With this model, the aim is to play on the same team as Earth, in stead of against it. Luckily, as with many green alternatives, this can both be a financially good investment model, in addition to being good for the planet. Several major companies as H&M, Nike and Google are already partners to the aforementioned Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 

If this blog post sparked some interest for you to find out more, because there is a lot more to dive into with this concept, then I can recommend this page as a first point. 

As always, thank you for reading, for keep educating yourself towards a greener you and a greener future for our shared planet. 

 

The renewable energy revolution!

For quite some time now, a renewable energy revolution has been growing, first silently, but recently it has rightfully gotten more attention. With the international political climate we are operating in at the moment, all good climate news are sorely welcome, and these news are actually quite extraordinary. 

In May Blackrock, one of the worlds biggest coal investment companies, declared that: ’Coal is dead. That's not to say all the coal plants are going to shut tomorrow. But anyone who's looking to take beyond a 10-year view on coal is gambling very significantly’. 

The coal industry emits enormous amounts of CO2 and is therefor considered one of the worst contributors to climate change. 

There is a broad agreement that in order to reach the targets set in the Paris agreement, emission must be cut, and especially from coal. ‘Fossil fuels are dead. But this is in the long term. It won’t happen over night, or in two to three years. But it will disappear’ said the US biggest railway transporter recently to Financial Times. 

Blackrock also announced that they are seing a change in attitudes towards renewable energy; earlier they were heavily subsides. whereas now we see that they are even financially good investments without subsides. 

‘What has fundamentally changed the picture is that renewables has become so cheap!’ head of Blackrock says. The EU saved 16 billion euro in energy import, due to its own renewable production, and these savings are estimated to increase to 58 billions by 2030, according to the EU commission. 

The headlines about either falling coal demand and the rise in renewables in India  and China are really changing the global energy situation for the better. 

 

The future for renewables are looking bright, and we can expect more good news to come soon. 

 

Second quarter of 2017 on shopstop

June is nearing its end, and so is the first half of this years non-shopping policy. To be honest, it only gets easier the more time that passes. 

At first, I figured the main challenges could be changes of the seasons, but now that I have 'mastered' ice cold winter, mild spring, and warm summer temperatures, I know it will be easy to last the rest of the year without breaking it. 

The key to any habit building activities, at least to what I have found, is reminding yourself every so often, why you are doing this in the first place. Until the new habit becomes an integrated part of your daily routine, then it can be good to remind yourself why you first set out on this journey. To me, I am luckily beyond that point, which makes it easier to focus on the idea behind this. 

One cool thing that has happened since the last update, is that I have had several really good conversations with friends about how they too has started questioning themselves more about their consumer habits. Which I think is great! A higher awareness of how much we consume is the first step towards decreasing the amount that goes in to what the advertisement industry wants us to think is a 'normal' or 'standard' amount of clothes, shoes etc to consume in a year. 

Another good thing that has come out of this project so far, which was one of my intentions, was to free up spare time, in order to use it how I know I actually would, in stead of ending up in a store. I can definitely say that I have been able to go on hikes both in the weekdays and also in the weekend a lot more frequently (while living in cities) after starting this project. 

If you have a similar idea that you want to test out for a years time, that you think will bring you closer to the kind of life you want to lead; I would say go for it! I am happy about doing shopstop 2017. Maybe you would like to do shopstop for the second half of this year, starting on 1st of July? :) 

 

The exciting and fragile Arctic

This week I attended a seminar by the Norwegian Environment Agency and the AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) about the dangers facing the Arctic region, and let me tell you, there are many! To me this fact only emphasises the importance for us to protect it. Even if most of us actually doesn't live in the Arctic, the Arctic serves as a barometer for the rest of the world on how climate change will impact us all. 

Here are a few of the findings that is worth knowing about the Arctic: 

- There are a lot of chemicals that ends up in the Arctic, and now that the ice is melting, we are discovering occurrences of PCB, one of the most dangerous environmental toxins, that was banned in 2005 due to its acute poisoning both for humans and animals. PCB is now resurfacing, most likely due to the ocean currents. 

- The temperature in the Arctic has more than doubled in the Arctic during the last 100 years, which is why you might often hear that the climate change is happening twice as rapidly at the poles. 

- 1/3 of all sea level rice will come from the Arctic region, due to melting of the polar ice caps.

- Between 1961 and 2015, scientist have discovered that the Arctic is getting warmer, wetter, with less and thinner sea ice and less snow. This is affecting the albedo effect; how much sun is reflected back - with a white surface, a lot of the sun is reflected back, but with darker surfaces, as an ocean, the heat is adopted. To illustrate this, look at the drawing underneath. 

- Earlier, there used to be a higher percentage of many year old ice. Now, that percentage has gone down, and one year old ice is more common. This affects life on a molecular level, because there are life living within the ice. This may have grave implications for the ecosystems, that we yet don't know. 

- Introduced species is another threat to the biodiversity. Due to warmed temperature in the water, new species are making its way up in the Arctic. Some of these are taking over the territories to species that have spent a long time adapting to that particular climate. One example is that Atlantic cod has gone up in population, and Polar cod has decreased. 

So, what can be done about this? 

The advice that was given at the conference were these: The Paris agreement is important, but more needs to be done. 

- Marine surveillance needs to be strengthened and we need to be prepared for the unknown.

In the former IPCC reports, the Arctic region has been under-communicated. This needs to change, because the Arctic is a very sensitive region, and as someone said at the seminar - the Arctic is everybody's business. 

I hope this has provided you with some new and interesting input, although this blog post was a more science based one. A lot of exciting things will take place in the Arctic region this summer, so stay tuned for more updates on how to protect the Arctic. 

3 tips on how to be eco friendly this summer

Hi everyone, June is here, and so is the start of summer holiday for a lot of you. With summer comes a lot of well deserved spare time, and with that, here are some handy tips on how to not let the good habits slip over the holiday: 

1. Slow travels: If possible, chose a train/ferry/bikes/kayak in stead of a flying. Slow travel is all the rage, and for a good reason. By making the travel part of your journey, you can find a necessary slowing of the pace, that might be the reason why you wanted to go on holiday in the first place. For more inspiration, you can follow this link to a couple who are committed to slow travels. 

2. Be a local hero: If you do decide to stay at home, be a local hero in your community! What I mean by this is - if you see that someone has thrown a disposable grill out in the water right next to a beach or any place that children or animals might get stuck in it - be a local hero and pick it up! I have seen this happen numerous times; its polluting, and the grill has no reason to be there. 

3. Pick up the plastic: Following up on being a local hero, I am assuming that a lot of people associate summer with spending time near the ocean, or at least waters, at least, that's summer to me. Whenever you see a plastic bag, or a bottle that have lost its way out of some owners hands, please be the climate hero they failed to be, and carry it with you until you can throw it away in a designated place. Last summer, I did a kayak hike, which turned into a picking up plastic bags from the sea hike. 

Also, obviously, great to pick up the plastic before it enters into the ocean as well, because as we know, almost all the plastic that ends up in nature find its way to the ocean. 

There might be more tips over the summer, but if we all try to follow up on these, you are really making a difference. Have an eco friendly start to your summer. 

The world without us - by Alan Weisman

I started this book without knowing too much about its content, except that it would describe what will happen to our world if we were all to disappear tomorrow. With this seemingly bleak outlook I started reading, and was instantly surprised by, given the premises for the book, how little troublesome it was to read. 

First of all, the language is beautiful. With sentences like:

‘Unless humankind’s Faustian affair with carbon fuels ends up tipping the atmosphere past the point of no return, and runaway global warming transfigures Earth into Venus, at some unknown date glaciers will do so again.’  

Weisman does a good job at describing what will remain after us, mostly underground cities. But with chapters with names like ‘Polymers Are Forever’ and ‘The Petro Patch’ it’s easy to see where we are headed. It is an environmentalist book through and through. Weisman has gone to some great lengths and apparently traveled the world in the attempt to cover all our misdeeds towards the climate. 

What is most distressing however is not that the concrete will break up and New York will once again be a green canopy, but how long after the toxins we have engineered are staying in our environment. One example is PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that we stopped using in the 70’s due to how animals who came in contact with it started mutating and changing gender. After remains of PCB were dug deep into the earth, that again found it’s way back into the water (spoiler: Everything finds it’s way back into the water), these toxins have now reappeared in the Arctic, where they are found in breastmilk in Innuit women, and in the fat tissues in seals and fish. 

Weisman leaves us with a thought on the choice ahead — if we as a species will bring the rest of Life with us, or tear it down, with a friendly reminder that we can't really do it alone if nature isn't with us. This is, to my belief, perhaps the core of this book, how closely we are linked with nature. 

If you are into in-debt explanations and a more naturalistic approach to climate change, this could well be the book for you. 

Marine littering

It is almost funny how I have not written about this topic sooner, as it is something that is very close to my heart, and that I have been concerned about for years. 

Marine litter is a global problem, so even though (for my Norwegian readers) we live in a country with fairly good recycling methods for plastic, it is something we need to be very considerate about.

To start with the facts; 

- Each year 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced

- Of these 300 million tonnes - 8 million ends up in the ocean

- That equals 5 lorry-trucks dumping plastic in the sea, every minute all year around

- If this continues, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, according to World Economic Forum

- We also know that 80% of all the plastic that ends up in the ocean originates from land-based sources

So, what can we do about it? :) 

Luckily, there are several things we can do to help aid the problem, and specially if you live in a high consumption society, like Norway, your contribution will really make a difference. 

First; this is how long plastic products keep on lasting in the sea:

To combat this, here is a handy trick you can remember - Refuse, Reuse, Reduce. 

Refuse - plastic that will only be used once, like a plastic straw

Reuse - plastic bottles and fill them with tap water, in stead of buying a new one every time

Reduce - the amount of plastic you consume. 

There is an even longer list of 10 good steps you can take if you follow this link. 

I will write a new post soon on what happens when the plastic is broken down to micro plastic/micro beads, and also how we can prevent that from spreading as well :)

Is the clothing industry getting any better?

I was recently at a meeting that discussed how the clothing industry is progressing, now 4 years after more than 1110 people died in the collapsing clothing factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. 

Status quo today 

The project lead for the Sweatshop (which I encourage you to see, if you haven't) said that the salaries they are making, is still not enough to cover daily costs. On the topic of security, we learned that there is still a lot of uncertainty in the job market. After the Rana Plaza accident, two work agreement was drawn up, the 'Accord on Fire and Building Safety' in Bangladesh and 'The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety'. If the new standards are not met, western companies must end their relationship with the factories. They have until the end of 2018 to meet the targets. However, as per today, the majority of the factories are still far from reaching these targets. There is still a lack in rights at the workplace, wages are low, and the workers are treated badly and without respect, and is sometimes beaten with plastic bottles. 

After the Rana Plaza, the industry wanted an overview of who had produced their clothes there. It turned out that none of the companies that used Rana Plaza had operated with open lists. In order to tell a customer where their garments are made, a company should always operate with an open list. That is why asking for open lists in the clothing industry is one of the ways you can help alter the system. This is because if an accident where to occur, the responsible would be easier to target, to prevent it happening again. 

Still, progress is being made, but a lot remains to be done. The term 'when best is not good enough' was used about the 'best' factories. In the meantime, we as consumers can look at these lists to see what companies operate with open lists. The other thing we can do is to keep paying attention to the working conditions, and keep asking questions.