Archive for Norway
www.telegraph.co.uk 16th August 2011
The deadly attack on the 5th August that resulted in the death of British teenager Horatio Chapple may have been caused by the polar bear’s severe toothache, according to Norwegian vets. The 39 stone male polar bear was shot dead soon after the attack allowing vets to study the body. “Under two of the canines and many of the incisors, the nerves were exposed. This causes serious pain and changes the behaviour of bears,” said Bjoernar Ytrehus from Norway’s Veterinary Institute. The diagnosis led experts to suggest that the bear was either old or sick and therefore unable to eat its normal diet of seals. Vegetables were the likely alternative causing the tooth damage. ”Starving and suffering, a bear is more unpredictable and aggressive than normal,” Dr Ytrehus said. Horatio Chapple was one of 13 travelling with a British Schools Exploring Society expedition. Their campsite was situated on the Von Postbreen glacier on Spitsbergen, north of the Norwegian mainland when the bear attacked. Several others were hospitalised.
A number of dangerous chemicals that have been frozen in the Arctic ice are being released as rising temperatures cause ice-caps to melt. The chemicals are called Persistent Organic Pollutants (or Pops) and include the industrial chemicals PCBs, and the pesticides DDT, lindane, and chlordane. They have all been banned under the 2004 Stockholm Convention due to the damaging effect they have on the environment and on human health. Studies carried out by Canadian and Norwegian scientists (the former based at Alert weather station in northern Canada and the latter at Zeppelin research station at Svalbaard) have shown that despite a global reduction in Pops emissions, air concentrations of PCBs and HCBs have been on the rise since 2004 due to chemicals being released from melting Arctic ice. Pops are stored in the fatty tissues of organisms that inadvertently consume them and are passed up the food chain because of this. Larger organisms at the top of the food chain, such as dolphins, seals, and orcas, therefore receive dangerously high concentrations of the chemicals that have profound effects on their health. In humans, Pops are related to cancers and physical deformity, among other defects and diseases. There is little scientific knowledge on the scale of Pops stored in high altitude regions.
www.bbc.co.uk 14th June 2011
A new report titled ‘The State of Europe’s Forests 2011′ has put emphasis on the important role European woodland can play in mitigating the effects of climate change. Announced at the Forest Europe conference in Oslo, the report is expected to help EU ministers create legally binding forestry policy. In statistics, the forests of Europe account for 25% of the world’s total and absorbs about 10% of Europe’s carbon emissions. The area of European forest covers 1 billion hectares, or 45% of Europe’s total area. 80% of this is in the Russian Federation. Forests account for 1% of Europe’s GDP, which equates to 4 million jobs. Surprisingly, the forest area is increasing by about 800,000 hectares a year although there are several potential hurdles in this bit of good news. Forest fires, insect infestations, disease, and nitrogen deposition from pollution all threaten European woodland. The conference’s opening address was made by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway who stated: ”capacity building, good governance and increased international co-operation are necessary in order to secure sustainable forest management. Forests that are sustainably managed are becoming an important part of the solution for global climate change.”
www.guardian.co.uk 15th October 2010
The European Union has clashed with Greenland and other Arctic nations over their ‘perceived failure to ensure wider international stewardship over the far north.’ Diana Wallis, the vice-president of the EU, said that she feared people would ‘take to the streets’ in protest if the Arctic issue was not handled correctly. Her comments were made at a NATO workshop in Cambridge University and were directed towards the Arctic Council, a body of countries bordering the Arctic such as Greenland, Russia, Canada, and Norway. The Arctic Council is responsible for environmental protection in the region. But with the Deepwater Horizon disaster fresh in people’s minds, the EU has been pressing for a drilling moratorium which could effect Greenland. However, Greenland and some other Arctic nations are concerned that the EU is using the ‘Green’ card in an attempt to muscle in on a new source of energy. Earlier in the workshop, a senior NATO commander warned that competition over the newly available sources of oil, gas, diamonds, and fisheries could cause armed conflict. This led to Paul Berkman, from the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge which hosted the workshop, to say: “In this region, the cold war has never gone away.”
www.guardian.co.uk 26th September 2010
There is one scientific discipline who seem to be benefitting the rapid melting of the world’s perma-frosted terrain. The gradual warming of the ground frost has allowed archaeologists to excavate in areas previously not available to them. In doing so they are allowed a rare glimpse of how early humankind survived in these regions. One particularly successful excavation is under way in Norway where the receding ice has revealed hundreds of artefacts dating back several millennia to before the vikings. Most of the items are related to reindeer hunting and have been discovered in the Jotunheimen mountains. Similar discoveries have been found from Alaska to Siberia. However, the ice is melting at such a rate that archaeological teams are in a desperate rush to find revealed sites before frozen artefacts degrade in the warmer air. In most cases the only reason ancient items have survived to the present day is because the ice prevented natural degradation. Without the ice, there is nothing to preserve the items.
www.independent.co.uk 23rd September 2010
The Arctic Forum got under way today in Moscow with five countries – Norway, Denmark, the USA, Russia, and Canada – all staking a claim on various parts of the Polar North, believed to hold as much as a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas. Three of the countries – Denmark, Canada, and Russia – have submitted a claim to the UN over the same area, called the Lomonosov Ridge, as shrinking Arctic ice makes it more accessible. Russian scientists have claimed there could be as much as 75 billion barrels of oil underneath the Ridge and the Russian flag was planted upon it three years ago, an action that drew an angry response from Canada. A previous claim by Russia to the UN was rejected in 2001.
Despite the high stakes involved all parties are encouraging disputes to be solved through dialogue rather than conflict. The Russian and Norwegian foreign ministers have jointly written an article for a Canadian newspaper on the subject. “We firmly believe that the Arctic can be used to demonstrate just how much peace and collective interests can be served through the implementation of the international rule of law,” wrote Jonas Gahr Store and Sergey Lavrov. “Moreover, we believe that the challenges in the Arctic should inspire momentum in international relations, based on co-operation rather than rivalry and confrontation.”