Climate

#ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture

There is a growing movement of young people everywhere, waking up to the challenges, created by earlier generations, that will affect their own lives. The movement of school children striking for the climate started with 16 year old Greta Thunberg in Sweden. She demanded that Swedish politicians adapted their climate policy to be in line with the Paris agreement. Because currently, the emission graphs are headed in the wrong direction.

Greta Thunberg has been speaking clearly about the climate for a long time now. Her school strike started in August last year. In this TEDx talk, she explains why taking action for the climate can not wait. It been seen by over 1 million viewers. I can highly recommend it.

Last week, Thunberg travelled by train to Davos, where she told the world leaders who where gathered at the World Economic Forum. She spoke directly to them and said that the current way that the worlds leaders are treating the climate crisis is simply not good enough. She told them how urgent it is, and that many people present had been part of causing it, with their high emissions.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, climate strikes has been erupting several places. In Brussels, 35.000 students marched out of their schools last week, to demand climate actions from their politicians, lead by 17 year old Anuna De Wever. In Norway, Nature and Youth organised climate strikes in September. In both Belgium and Norway there will be elections this coming autumn. Then everyone with a right to vote can do the climate justice by voting for a future that will still include a living planet.

Greta Thunberg says she sees the question about the climate as a black and white one. If more people saw it that way, if more people were aware that we are in fact in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, that the worlds emissions are set to increase, not decrease in the coming year - then more people would take to the streets. That is why my call for action to anyone who reads this is quite simple today - spread awareness and take action!

Talk about the changing climate. Talk about it at school. Talk about it at your job, at the dentist office, at the hairdresser, on your commute to job. To your family members who does not believe in it or does not care. Tell everyone, and show them examples of how it is already happening today. It will only get worse tomorrow. There is no planet B. If more people were woke to this fact, if more people walked out of the places they were meant to spent their working hours, in order to give attention to what matters the most - then our politicians and leaders would have to listen.

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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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. 

 

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. 

Norway just about to start its Arctic oil drilling

Yesterday marked a new step in race against Arctic oil drilling. As a long term reader of this blog, you might have followed the blog updates on how Arctic oil drilling, more specifically in the South-East Barents Sea, is extremely destructive for all life that lives there. We know both that seismic activity can be hazardous for marine life, and we definitely know that all oil and gass found in the Arctic must stay in the ground if we are to reach the 2 degree target. 

That is why it was particularly devastating yesterday, when Statoil, regardless of all climate recommendations, still went ahead and sent up its first oil rig, Songa Enabler, to drill for oil from now and all throughout the summer. This is part of what is called the 23rd concession round, where oil licences where handed out in the South-East Barents Sea. 

In Norway, we are so fortunate to have a constitution that speaks in quite strong language about how we want our climate to be. The wording of §112 sounds like this: 

'Every person has a right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources should be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations whereby this right will be safeguarded for future generations as well. 

In order to safeguard their right in accordance with the foregoing paragraph, citizens are entitled to information on the state of the natural environment and on the effects of any encroachment on nature that is planned or carried out. 

The authorities of the State shall issue specific provisions for the implementation of these principles.' 

Because of the inconsistency between these words in our constitution and what our government is actually doing, and also the fact that our chosen politicians were just as quick to sign the Paris agreement as they were to hand out new oil licences, that is the reason why several Norwegian environmental organisations, lead by Greenpeace and Nature and Youth, are now suing the Norwegian state over Arctic oil drilling. The lawsuit agains the Norwegian state now has a court date, and it is set to the 13th of November. 

These are exciting times to be an environmentalist, even though Big Oil still hasn't realised its era is coming to a close. It is neither financially nor environmentally sound to invest in fossile fuels compared to renewable

Luckily, there are forces both within and outside of Norway that sees this, and hopefully this will win through in the court case against Arctic oil drilling. If you want to do more, please feel free to add your name to the lawsuit, as one of the over 8 million who supports this. 

As always, thank you for reading. <3

Remember, sharing is caring, and we collectively really need to care about the Arctic, because what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. 

The COP22 is finished, and this is what we got out of it

COP22 finished in the early hours this morning, and what we have as a result from it is this document http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/application/pdf/marrakech_action_proclamation.pdf It is a fairly short read, but to summarise it for you, the main points are these: 

- The Parties acknowledges the importance of the Paris agreements earlier commitment

- They have set themselves a 2 year time frame to come up with all the technical measurement mechanisms from the Paris agreement. 

Besides from this, the COP22 set out to promise to be an ActionCOP, but turned out to be more of an in-actionCOP. However, the climate minister of Norway are pleased with the outcome, and this framework gives the parties clear ground rules on how to work ahead, so COP24 should promise to be an action filled on yet again! 

COP22!

It is once again COP season and I am following the updates with Argus eyes. There is a lot happening at the same time, and the best way to illustrate this is both through words but also infographics as this http://climatetracker.org/week1cop22overview/ on what happened during the first week at COP. 

If you are new to the UN language I can recommend this site http://cop22.ma/en/#whatscop/post/161 for some of the useful the acronyms.

And to be fully in on the process, this is the official website where the UN releases the text proposals that are being discussed: http://unfccc.int/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/meeting/9567.php  

As you can see, this is a slightly different blog post, but with all the encouragement to keep yourself updated on what is happening to the future of our climate. There is a strong need for all of us to keep ourself informed, saying this in regards of the US election this week, the need for information is more pressing than ever. This article http://sciencecommunicationmedia.com/science-and-politics-where-do-we-go-carl-sagan/ discusses exactly this, that we need to keep the scientific community within the political debates. Also, we as voters, and global citizens needs to keep ourself informed in order to not drop out of the bigger conversation; where our Earth is headed. 

There is a lot of hope, and a lot to be optimistic about. Overall we are making progress. It might not seem like it all the time, but overall we are. I am including this video "Some Good News: 16 Ways 2015 Is Not A Total Dumpster Fire by online educators The Vlogbrothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wei8M9IuqPc , and with this ending this blog post. 

As always, thank you for reading and taking the time. 

 

The added factor of climate change

3.9 The added factor of climate change

The IPCC has concluded that climate change is happening twice as rapidly on and near the poles, as the rest of the globe. This makes climate change unavoidable to mention when considering how the Sámi population will be affected by a possible oil spill in their immediate nature. The ACIA report (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment 2004) concludes that the consequences for societies living in the Arctic of climate change will include: 

  • Loss of hunter culture: Because of the melting all year long ice several species that are reliable on this ice for resting are likely to become extinct, causing difficulties for the Sámis dependance on these animals. The loss of their hunter culture will not only take away a traditional source of nutrition, it is highly intertwined with their sense of cultural identity and what it means to be Sámi. 
  • Reduced food security: Access to traditional food as seal, polar bear, reindeer and some fish and bird species are likely to diminish as a consequence of the heating. Reduced quality and illness among the fish and in the berries that the reindeers eat are already being observed. With the shift to a more ‘Western’ nutrition comes an increased chance for diabetes, obesity and heart diseases. 
  • Health concerns for the inhabitants: Thinner ice caps is a direct cause of the changing climate. This can be dangerous if the Sámi continue to use their traditional paths leading over ice covered-shores that used to be safe. The melting of the permafrost can also lead to poorer sanitation facilities. 
  • Consequences for the herds: As changes in what routes are possible for the reindeer, where they can give birth and access food will be altered, the likely scenario is that this added stress will have a negative effect on the reindeer herds, leading to thinner reindeers with a decreased estimated life span, which again will affect the Sámi in a negative way. 
  • Increase in ship traffic: As the year long ice will melt, new sailing routes will be possible. The North-West passage has already seen an up-rise the last couple of years and within the end of the century this is estimated to be the preferred shipping route of goods. The positive consequences this will bring are more tourism to the Arctic countries, with a possibility that the Sámi will get more attention and a possible market for their livestock. The environmental aspect of more ships going through the Arctic waters is the increased likeliness of introduced species that are highly likely to come along with the ballast water being emptied in the Arctic with water from more southern areas. The introduced species are likely to compete with the ones who are already accustom to the environment, and the consequences on the ecosystem as a whole are hard to predict when introduced species enter an already complete ecosystem. 
  • Increased access to resources: With the melting of the ice in certain areas, former impossible places to search for and extract oil and gas will be possible. The moving ice will also cause an added danger for the petroleum searches in these areas, as the ice is no longer stabilized. 
  • Extended fishing opportunities: Key farming fish species in the Arctic, as herring and cod are likely to thrive in a warmer environment, but it is also very likely that the traveling patterns and prevalence areas of many fish species will change. 
  • Difficulties of transportation on shore: Transportation across the land and pipelines are already being affected by the melting ground. This is likely to increase. Settlements that are dependent on ice covered or frozen roads in order to be accessed for supplies will suffer. 
  • Reduced freshwater fishing: By the end of this century it is estimated that a number of species that have adapted to life in Arctic waters will become extinct both locally and globally. 
  • Better terms for agriculture and forestry: The opportunities for agriculture and forestry are likely to increase, as the warmer weather will open for growing food and trees that former only could live further South.

On saving all the endangered species, not just the cute ones

In September, we got the great news that China has managed to reverse the trend of letting the panda become extinct. For more on how they did this, you can follow this link:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37273337 . However, what is troublesome is that even though the panda has become the symbol of endangered species, we haven't grasped the full concept of why we need to save all the endangered species, not only the cute ones. 

There are many "invisible" species that plays a key role in ecosystems we depend on for our daily life. One recent example that the media has given a bit of attention is the disappearance and mass dying of bees. Without bees there will be no pollination, which in turn will affect all the fruit and vegetables that we eat. This is a fairly simplified cause and effect chain, but the same rules apply to other species. If we change the natural habitat too much for one key species, we might alter something entirely larger without having intended that to be the consequences. 

From a preservationist perspective, the solution would be to not make interferences that can not be undone. In order to keep the numbers of dying species under control, we have something called the Red List: http://support.iucnredlist.org and WWFs: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/directory?direction=desc&sort=extinction_status and many countries have their own specific, for example Norway has its own "rødliste": http://data.artsdatabanken.no/Rodliste . In Norway, we have lost over 125 species in the past 200 years. Last week, the new state budges was published in Norway, and there are no new budgetary savings set aside for the protection of new species. This is a bad sign for the environmental situation we are in. If we start protecting more nature and saving species, we will effectively stop the escalating effect that we for example have seen with the bees. There are many other, probably undiscovered, links that we need to take in consideration. A healthy biodiversity will bring us closer to solving the climate crisis. 

Thank you for reading and engaging. 

Today the World did it!

We finally have a binding global climate agreement! Today, on the 5th of October, we reached the threshold of 55% of the countries that contributes to the most climate emissions, have signed the agreement! This happened when the EU ratified the agreement. From now and onwards, we have to follow up on the content. It is not an easy task, but it is completely necessary to go through with. 

Earlier today, I wrote an article for a Norwegian environmentalist magazine about how the Norwegian oil industry is still given the green light to continue to look for oil, even though we know we have to kick the habit. In my research for the article, I looked up what is known as "Earth Overshoot Day" http://www.overshootday.org It is the day that marks when we had reached this years carbon emissions limit, if we are to stay below 1,5 degrees temperature rise. This year we reached that day on the 8th of August. This means that every CO2 emission every country make after this date and towards the rest of the year, is why we won't reach our joint target this year. Even the fact that we have something called Earth Overshoot Day is a sad fact, but in order to combat our ways, we have to face the reality. That reality is that we are still letting out too much CO2. One of the pledges you can do on the website is to familiarize yourself with how much more CO2 your country let out, and how many Earths would be needed if everyone lived the way they do in your country. For me in Norway, that is 3,5 Earths. But we don't have that many, we only have the one. That is why we need this agreement, and that is why we need it to work. Have a look at the Earth Overshoot Day for some friendly tips on what you can do to do your share.

Why we need to keep the global temperature below 1,5 degrees

This is one of the most pressing issues within the climate movement. The difference between the 2 degrees celsius target (above 1990-level) and the 1,5 degrees celsius is the difference between life and death for several small island developing states (often referred to as SIDS in climate literature) or Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis). 

Within the UN world of climate negotiations, this group consist of 44 countries, mainly small, low-lying states in Africa, the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea, including Belize, Cape Verde, the Maldives, Jamaica, Singapore and Papua New Guinea. The difference to the hundreds of millions of people who live in these places are whether or not their homes are inhabitable. Some islands, like Tuvalu has already lost significant landmass to the ocean, and it is only losing more each year. 

There is also a disproportionate spiraling effect that sets in when the climate change with half a degree more. The difference between 1,5 and 2 degrees will for example lead to: 

  • Heat waves and rainstorms will last longer, with higher intensity
  • Certain crops could become scarce
  • Tropical coral reefs would cease to exist 
  • Sea-level would rise by roughly one third more, and is likely to keep rising long after air temperature is stabilized. 

The sea level rising is a topic for another blog post, but to illustrate it for now, I will include an infographic that shows which cities would disappear first if sea levels were to rise from anywhere from 1 to 8 meters. (for the source http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/when-sea-levels-attack-2/

as always, thank you for reading.