I regularly write op-eds, often about climate change and the Arctic, in the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen. These columns are – besides English – also available in the original Norwegian version and in Dutch. English translations of these columns are added irregularly.
Klassekampen, 28 August 2020
Is the Greenland ice sheet lost forever – or can we still turn the tide?
While a temperature of 54.4 °C was recorded in Death Valley – possibly a new world record – news surfaced that Greenland's ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, even if we manage to halt climate change. The study appeared on CNN on August 14th, among others. The Greenland ice ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 24 July 2020
Higher emissions lead to more warming, which in turn leads to higher emissions
Not satisfied with the summer weather? Try a holiday in Siberia! The remote arctic village of Verkhoyansk was – until now – famous for being the coldest inhabited place in the world because they recorded 67.8 degrees below zero once. But that was 128 years ago. Last month, temperatures ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 19 June 2020
Does Norway need wind energy to enable a fossil-free future?
It must have been a beautiful day in spring, now 15 years ago. I drove through the rolling countryside in central Germany, on my way to the forest where I did fieldwork for my Master's thesis. I saw hills covered with meadows, with a row of windmills adorning almost every top. Spinning ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 15 May 2020
Norway's debate about arctic oil exploration is farcical.
While oil prices in the USA dropped below zero, the Norwegian government clung to the fossil fuel-driven economy. Airline companies that fly nowhere and oil companies that cannot get rid of their oil will receive tens of billions of dollars in tax benefits and favorable loans – without any ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 3 April 2020
It’s not a given that things will be different this time around.
While half the world is sitting at home waiting for the pandemic to pass, the polluting influence of humans has entered a decline. Air pollution disappeared from Beijing in the East to Los Angeles in the West, China's CO2 emissions fell by 25% and the number of flight movements in the world ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 28 February 2020
Isn't it better to let the earth warm up a bit and pay for the inconvenience?
The recent forest fires in Australia, which were devastating to both humans and animals, came after a record-breaking drought and a summer with unprecedented high temperatures. Still, Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, denies that reducing Australia's emissions could have any impact ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 20 December 2019
We cannot save the climate by planting trees on Greenland.
At the failed climate summit in Madrid it became, once again, abundantly clear that international climate policy is completely dysfunctional. After 25 climate summits, global emissions are still rising, while they need to be reduced by at least 7% per year in order to avoid global warming of ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 15 November 2019
Apparently, there's no good news on climate without tempering with the numbers.
The Norwegian governing parties Høyre and Venstre recently had a climate celebration on social media: Greenhouse gas emissions decreased for the third consecutive year and have not been this low since 1995. Venstre tweeted a chart where emissions appeared to be cut in half, and Høyre ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 25 October 2019
A better planet is not only defined by lower CO2 emissions.
Imagine that by tomorrow, fossil fuel emissions have suddenly been reduced to zero. That, in some magical way, every car in the world is electric, we only generate electricity with sun, wind and water, and that chimneys of factories neatly capture CO2 and store it underground. If so, has the ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 6 September 2019
Local climate policy is an important part of the solution to the climate crisis.
Just before the summer, I happened to sit on the public gallery of Amsterdam town hall, where the city council debated whether the city should declare a climate crisis. Extinction Rebellion, an international movement of climate activists, had successfully campaigned for this, and about eight ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 2 August 2019
Right-wing parties have not always been bad for the environment.
Last weekend was quite exciting: Who would carry the title "hottest place in Norway"? Laksfors, in Grane commune, was hot on the heels of Nesbyen, which had held the record for 49 years. From their holiday destinations – one was bobbing in a rubber boat at a campsite in Tønsberg, and the ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 28 June 2019
Forget about flying shame, SAS is now offering climate-friendly flights. Or not?
The time has finally arrived: We are going to fly climate-friendly! That is, if you can believe the PR talks of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) which adorn billboards acrosse the country, with texts such as "On the way to more sustainable travel". Is it true that we will soon be able to fly with ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 24 May 2019
Extinction rebellion desires a climate uprising. Are their demands realistic?
The fight against climate change has moved up a gear over the last six months. Around the world, the "Extinction Rebellion" movement is carrying out massive, non-violent, resistance actions. Their demands: governments need to declare a climate emergency, emissions should be reduced to zero ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 12 April 2019
We have only just started to translate the secret language of plants.
Plants don't talk, everyone knows that, right? Actually, that's not entirely true. Of course, you will never hear plants gossip with each other about the scandals which that one rebellious bush around the corner has ended up in, but they do communicate with each other. Plants can 'smell' ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 8 March 2019
It is too early to throw in the towel and wait for the end of the world.
"Are you a climate optimist or a climate pessimist?", I was asked, just after I had given a lecture of an hour about the threat of climate change on the polar region. Without hesitation, I replied that I was an optimist, to which the audience responded with amazement. Perhaps this also ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 1 February 2019
Who will stand up and lead us away from the climate crisis?
Who will leads us away from the climate crisis? Despite decades of discussions to reduce our CO2 emissions, they went up again last year as usual – by almost three percent. Since the Kyoto Protocol was signed, more than twenty years ago, fossil emissions have increased by more than half. ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 28 December 2018
Collective action against the climate crisis is badly needed. Time for the green vests?
Save the climate, have fewer children! I regularly come across this advice, in the newspaper or on social media, often in a nicely designed graph. No need for shorter showers, getting rid of your car or to stop eating meat: no other action (or rather, non-action) reduces your CO2 emissions ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 23 November 2018
Biodiversity is essential – not a luxury or a left-wing hobby.
Pando, the forest of one tree, is not doing well. And it's not because of global warming for a change. Pando is one of the oldest organisms on earth – perhaps 14,000 years old, when Norway was still largely covered with a kilometer-thick ice cap. Our climate has changed a lot since then, ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 19 October 2018
To choose polluting aircraft over the train is incomprehensible.
The fight against climate change can be complex, but some decisions are simple. Like not building a third runway at Gardermoen, the airport of Oslo. An increase in the capacity of the airport will only lead to more CO2 emissions and more noise pollution. That's bad for the environment and ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 31 August 2018
While the search for oil continues, we are reaching a new climate normal.
Forest fires that ravaged along the entire west coast of the US. The thickest and oldest arctic sea ice that broke up. Night temperatures in Oman that didn't drop below 41 degrees Celsius. Record after record was broken this summer, and Norway wasn't spared: the unprecedented drought led to ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 27 July 2018
The nature of the far North can create many jobs, provided we do not destroy it first.
It is ten degrees and foggy in Berlevåg when we make port with Klassekampen's summer boat. There are no yellow, dried-out trees or forest fires here like in the South of Norway. Trees do not or hardly grow in this environment. The heat of this summer and the worst drought in 70 years seem ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 22 June 2018
While we enjoy the sun, a potential food crisis is growing.
The weather was hot and the climate deniers were silent. Strange actually, that you only hear from them when it is cold in the winter, but not during a historic heat wave. Then again, there was little to deny: the average temperature in Norway in May was more than four degrees C above normal ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 18 May 2018
Do we have to stop going on holiday? Or can we spend our CO2 in a smarter way?
Vacations are bad for the environment, according to a study that appeared last week in Nature Climate Change. It showed that tourism is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Roughly twice as high as previous estimates. This difference is mainly due to the fact that, unlike previous ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 13 April 2018
Shell and Equinor are helping us through the climate crisis. Or not?
What is going on with the oil companies? Don't they want to sell oil anymore? Just before Easter, Shell presented a vision of how the world could use little or no oil in the future. Last month, Statoil announced that they are going to throw the word "oil" out of their name and want to ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 9 March 2018
A winter with lots of snow should not make us forget that the Arctic is melting.
Severe frost, snow, and ice. Great! Europe finally got a normal winter. Right? No. Appearances can be deceiving, because in reality there is nothing normal about it. In my previous column I already predicted this: due to changes in the jet stream circling the polar region, it can be ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 26 January 2018
We have left our traces all across the earth, even where we cannot see them.
Frozen iguanas fell from the trees in Florida! How can climate change be true? Every winter it's the same story. As soon as a single snowflake falls from the sky, climate skeptics will elbow each other out of the way to declare that the earth isn't warming. But while the east of the US ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 12 January 2018
The Norwegian climate trial was doomed to fail. But not all hope is lost.
To lose a lawsuit is never fun. But when it has negative consequences for our environment, we all lose a little bit. Last week on Thursday, Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth) lost the lawsuit they had filed against the state. They demanded that the expansion of oil drilling in ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 10 November 2017
The 23rd UN climate conference: Everyone is in agreement, but nothing changes.
23 times. That's how often the UN has held its annual climate conference in an attempt to prevent dangerous global warming. You undoubtedly know of the conferences in Kyoto and Paris, but there are probably few people who can remember the other 21 meetings. And that isn't strange either, ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 15 September 2017
While storms and extreme precipitation strike, the rich are moving to the high ground.
The Canadian protest singer Geoff Berner already sang it years ago: "You and me baby, we’re going to watch the poor drown. ‘Cos the rich are gonna move to the high ground". Cynical, but also very topical now that hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left unprecedented devastations in ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 11 August 2017
Global warming is smouldering beneath this summer's heat waves and forest fires.
Back from vacation? Perhaps you visited the Mediterranean? Good timing, since the Norwegian news channel NRK reported a few weeks ago that this would be impossible in the future. It'll be too hot. In other words: quick, before it becomes unbearable on the Spanish beaches, take an airplane to ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 7 July 2017
Norway needs a government which realises that oil does not have a future.
"This is not the time for tactics or game-playing. This is the time to act and to put our best foot forward. To save our planet – together." This statement came from Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg during the climate conference in Paris in 2015. Admirable words, which mean nothing ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 2 June 2017
The climate debate is riddled with false contrasts. This won't get us any further.
Recently, the end times were world news. The Guardian reported that climate change had thawed the permafrost around the global seed fault on Svalbard, and that it flooded. This led to a media storm with sensational headlines about 'The Doomsday Vault'. The subtext: climate change has gotten ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 5 May 2017
Why suffer through a snow storm, when you can do research from the comfort of your office?
While the airplane descends, I look out of the window and see the snow-covered peaks of Svalbard. It’s light outside, even though it’s the middle of the night. The sun won’t set until August. In the middle of this snow-filled landscape, on top of a mountain plateau near Longyearbyen, I ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 17 March 2017
Climate science is threatened by much more than just Donald Trump.
Last week I attended a meeting in Seattle, where together with climate scientists from Europe and the US we mulled over the question of how much methane is released from permafrost in the Arctic. This group also included researchers from NASA and NOAA, institutes that are now under fire ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 10 February 2017
Small changes in an ecosystem can initiate a turbulent chain reaction.
I should be talking about Donald Trump, and the unprecedented shift in American science policy. From a president who published in Science only last January, we have gone to one who tries to silence climate researchers, and threatens to take away federal funding for a university because of ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 6 January 2017
Is it man or nature that has caused the recent increase in methane emissions?
When climate change hits the news, it's often about records being broken. Globally, 2016 was the hottest year ever measured. Never before was there so little ice in the Arctic as this winter. And the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere hasn't been this high in 800.000 years. But there's ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 18 November 2016
The USA leaving the UN climate convention isn't the worst-case scenario.
While the world's countries had just gathered in Marrakech to discuss the implementation of the Paris agreement, news broke that Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. He doesn't believe in climate change; it's a conspiracy by the Chinese, he says. Is the Paris agreement, ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 28 October 2016
The Norwegian climate trial is an attempt to force politicians to abide by their words.
Greenpeace and the Norwegian organisation "Nature and Youth" have recently sued the government of Norway to prevent the exploration of new oil fields in the Barents Sea. With it, climate activists are following a new path: rather than persuading the government to implement better policies, ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 23 September 2016
Sea ice is disappearing. That's not just bad news for polar bears.
When Fridtjof Nansen and his Fram-expedition were stopped by a wasteland of frozen ice on their way to the North Pole, it was also the definitive refutation of an old and curious idea that there had to be a large area of open water at the center of the Arctic Ocean. 120 years later, an ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 15 July 2016
Politicians incite distrust towards experts - and allow global temperatures to rise.
"People in this country have had enough of experts", said Michael Gove, the former British justice secretary who is headed for an uncertain future, earlier in June. This bizarre statement came as a reply to a question about the many (inter)national organisations that warned against the ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 13 June 2016
Extreme weather hints at what our climate may be like in the future. Are we prepared?
While the water level of the Seine recently reached such high levels that the basements of the louvre were evacuated and several villages in Germany flooded, the south of Norway experienced warm and sunny weather. With temperatures close to 30 degrees C the region was among the hottest in ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 2 May 2016
People can do a lot to adjust to climate change. But what about plants and animals?
Last summer, I was hiking through the west of the Hardangervidda in Norway: 100 km in a week through an area without cellphone reception, no internet, no obligations, and no rush. Nonetheless, the group that I had joined was walking at a swift pace. So much so that I was wondering whether ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 21 March 2016
What do they mean when meteorologists say that it’s warmer because of El Niño?
Last year was worldwide the hottest year ever. And this year will probably be even warmer. At least, that’s what the British Met Office said last December, and with the record-breaking heat of the past three months they haven’t been proven wrong so far. Normally, scientists are hesitant ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 8 February 2016
Those who think that climate change is boring, have never seen a glacier disappear.
Recently I discovered, to my great astonishment, that many people think that climate change – my research field – is boring. That even some employees of this newspaper start to yawn when they hear the word «climate». And admittedly: I don’t get that enthusiastic either when I hear ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 7 December 2015
Antarctic sea ice is increasing. Is the Earth not warming after all?
For most people, the Arctic and Antarctic are one and the same thing. It’s cold, and there’s lots of snow and ice. When I recently gave a lecture about the North Pole region, even the organizers did not realize that penguins are common only to the South and polar bears to the North. ... Continue reading →
Klassekampen, 26 October 2015
Doomsday-thinking doesn't get us any step closer to counteracting climate change.
“So... is the world going to end?”. This may not be the most common response when you tell someone what kind of work you do, but as a climate scientist I’ve gotten used to this question. Climate change often evokes doom scenario’s and it’s therefore understandable that people are ... Continue reading →