Citizenship for a changing global climate: Learning from New Zealand and Norway

by Jake Kessler

Two professors at the University of Canterbury teamed up with a professor from the University of Oslo to investigate young persons’ attitudes towards citizenship in Norway and New Zealand. At first glance the two countries are remarkably similar. New Zealand and Norway both have approximately 4.5 million citizens, are developed, are quite “egalitarian,” and are internationally known for their having stable political environments. However, the forms of democracy that have developed in the countries are quite different. New Zealand has embraced a market liberal form of democracy that has resulted in mass privatization of various industries. Norway embraces socialist ideals, and has a strong public sector and a long history of public-private cooperation. The authors looked at the students in both countries to understand how young adults from these affluent countries view their citizenship, and responsibility towards the global community as our climate changes radically. Continue reading

Large Forest Blocks are Essential for Biodiversity Protection and Carbon Storage

by Stephen Johnson

Habitat loss is the primary threat to the survival of most tropical biodiversity. Typically, this habitat loss is driven by deforestation for agricultural use. However, deforested landscapes are rarely homogenous fields with low diversity; most often, forest fragments are left embedded in a matrix of varying types of agriculture, from open field monocultures, to pastures and forest-mimicking shaded plantations. The process of fragmentation has a significant negative effect on the biodiversity present in the area; however, fragments are often able to support a variety of species, as are some types of agriculture, such as agroforestry. Less is known about the capacity of such landscapes to sequester and store carbon. What little has been done has focused on carbon in agroforestry systems, with promising, though mixed, results. Continue reading

Global Warming Reduction by Switching to Healthy Diets

by Shelby Long

The consumption of food and beverages accounts for 22–31% of total private consumption greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU (Tukker et al. 2009). More specifically, the production of meat and dairy products tend to produce greater GHG emissions (Audsley et al. 2009). Saxe et al. (2012) examine how different diets, which are composed of different foods, are associated with varying potential GHG emissions. They use consequential Life Cycle Assessment to compare the emissions, or global warming potential (GWP), from food production for an Average Danish Diet (ADD), the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations (NNR), and a New Nordic Diet (NND), which was developed by the OPUS Project. They determined that the GHG emissions association with NNR and NND were lower than those associated with ADD, by 8% and 7%, respectively. When taking into account the transport of food, NND emissions are 12% less than ADD emissions. With regard to organic versus conventional food production, GHG emissions are 6% less for NND than for the ADD. Saxe et al. adjusted NND to include less beef and more organic produce, and they substituted meat with legumes, dairy products, and eggs, which made the diet more climate-friendly. As a result of this adjustment, the GHG emissions associated with NDD was 27% less than emissions for ADD. Continue reading

Effect of Variations in Climate on Agriculture in Northern Norway

by Alex Nuffer

The impact of climate change on agriculture varies among geographic areas largely because of soil properties, local climate, local and regional markets, management strategies, and agricultural tradition. In northern Norway, climate research has concluded that the main changes in regional climate include increasing temperatures, precipitation, and frequency of extreme weather events. These changes introduce new beneficial opportunities for agriculture through the introduction of new crops, increase of yield, and expansion of cultivation areas. Uleberg, Hanssen-Baur, van Oort, and Dalmanndsdottir (2013) assessed the impact of climate change on agriculture in six municipalities in northern Norway on plant production and animal husbandry, as well as presented possible adaptive strategies to harness the potential benefits from climate change. The study was based on downscaled climate projections for the different municipalities, along with interviews from farmers, key informants, and municipal administrators. The municipalities spanned across different climatic zones of Norway and included coastal, interior, Sub-Arctic, and Arctic. The authors discovered that the most influential challenges from variations in climate included unstable winters, increase of autumn precipitation, and increase in pathogens and weeds. Although these challenges pose threats to agriculture, the extension of the short growth season and higher growth temperatures bring forth new agricultural opportunities that could potentially be beneficial, as long as adaptation strategies tailor to these changes. Continue reading

Red Fox Populations Encroach on Arctic Fox Ranges due to Warmer Temperatures

by Hilary Bruegl

In the nineteenth century Arctic tundra of Finnmark, Norway, the Arctic fox population declined to near extinction and have been recovering minimally despite strict protection. Hamel et al. (2013) investigated potential factors involved in suppressing healthy recolonization of prior territories, including encroaching red fox populations and variation in prey availability. By baiting and periodically photographing the area, the authors found red foxes to be the most important influence on the Arctic fox population in northeast Norway. Not only are red foxes more comfortable in the warming temperatures of the tundra, but there has also been a significant reduction in fox hunting, allowing the red fox population to flourish. Rodent population fluctuations were first documented alongside fox populations as a limiting factor of population growth; however, they had fewer effects than either land cover changes or red fox infiltration. Continue reading