Picture: John Fielding / A Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus) / CC BY-SA 2.0.

In November 2015, a revised Norwegian Red List for Species was launched. The list contained more than 4 000 species, and Norwegian newspapers presented it to the public by using some of these species as examples. In a recently published article, entitled “Miss Hare struggles”, Marit Ruge Bjærke close-reads two newspaper articles in which the mountain hare is used as an example, to explore the ways in which cultural meanings, temporalities and spatial scales emerge in the biodiversity discourse. The article shows how biodiversity loss was presented as a local or national issue framed within the global story of climate change, and concludes that both the choice of specific species as examples and the understandings of temporal and spatial scales that are conveyed with the help of these examples, affect how biodiversity loss is understood.

Hedda S. Molland
Hedda Susanne Molland

Hedda Susanne Molland is a new PhD candidate in cultural studies, associated to The Future is Now. She is working on a project on the temporal aspects of Norwegian climate politics.

Climate politics is defined by notions of time and action. It’s long term politics, addressing how what we do in the present can limit climate change and its consequences in the future. In addition, notions of what actions are appropriate, and who can do what, are closely linked with how time is understood. Molland’s project addresses these issues by asking how notions of time and action have shaped Norwegian climate policy. She is doing a cultural and historical discourse analysis of key policy documents from the Norwegian Ministry of climate and environment in the period of the Solberg government. Her analysis is guided by three primary questions: 1) what notions of time can be found in the ministry’s documents; 2) what kind of influence has science and popular culture had on imaginaries of the future in these documents; and 3) how have these notions of time and the future influenced how actors and capacities for action is represented in Norwegian climate politics.

Anne Eriksen. Foto: IKOS, UiO.

Can grain crops be increased? The issue was heatedly debated in 18th Century Denmark-Norway, both for patriotic and economic reasons. In a newly published article by Anne Eriksen examines how the historian Gerhard Schøning (1722–80) handled this issue. His answered the question affirmatively. Chopping down much of the forests that covered Norway would change the climate radically for the better, he argued. As a consequence of the warmer weather, the fertility of the soil would improve. Climate interested a number of 18th century writers. It was not only a part of geotheory, but also included in theories about the history of society, law and culture as well as in medical thought.

Schøning’s argument was nearly entirely built on examples from Greek and Roman history, cited to demonstrate that since classical times, this kind of changes had already taken place in other parts of Europe. The rhetoric of exemplarity relied on a quantity as well as on the uncontested exemplarity of classical literature itself. The cases he cites are numerous (serial) instantiations of the same general mechanism: The effect of human interventions in nature. Yet at the same time they are models to follow, even if it will take some effort. Norway will never be as warm and fertile as southern countries, but Schøning exhorts his compatriots to “take courage and start!” History consisted of examples to learn from and models to follow.

Wikimedia commons, open access.

In a new short essay published in Salongen, Kyrre Kverndokk discusses how 16-year old Greta Thunberg has been ascribed and also has taken the symbolic position of “the child” to authorize her message. The essay explores very different aspects of this rhetorical trope. Thunberg talks from the positionof a time-traveler, coming from the future to tell the truth about a climate-changed future to contemporary political leaders. While in media representations, she is not only presented as a representative of future generations, she is also depicted as a modern “Pippi Longstocking” -  the strongest girl in the world and the eternal child. On the other hand, right-wing media emphasize the vulnerability of “the child”, claiming her to be an “innocent” victim of cynical lobbyists. The essay is in Norwegian.

Marit Ruge Bjærke. Foto: Erling Espolin Johnson.

What happens when we term our geological epoch ‘anthropocene’, indicating that humans are always at the center of the story? With her encounter with a sea urchin and the concept of ‘chthulucene’ as starting points, Marit Ruge Bjærke asks how we can think about technology and climate change without the notion of a coming apocalypse. The essay (in Norwegian) is part of the “Norwegian Writers’ Climate Campaign”.

Have you heard about Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM)? Lone Ree Milkær has produced a series of short podcasts portraying central topics and perspectives of the project. In the first one geoscientist Henrik H. Svensen explain how a rapid climatic change 56 million years ago may be used to inform present climate change research. (4:01 minutes)


Does nature have intrinsic value in Norwegian environmental politics? Or has the economical language of ecosystem services removed the possibility of expressing values not connected with nature as a service provider for humans? In the latest edition of Nytt norsk tidsskrift and in a shorter, popular artilce in Morgenbladet, postdoctoral researcher Marit Ruge Bjærke demonstrates that there has been major changes in how the Norwegian government and environmental management has expressed value in nature during the last 10 to 15 years.

The articles are in Norwegian.

The project has now been running for a few months and is it time to update the blog. The postdoctoral researcher Marit Ruge Bjærke and the PhD canidate Lone Ree Milkær started in August 2017. Ruge Bjærke has a PhD in biology and a master degree in European culture (history of ideas), while Ree Milkær has a master degree in folklore studies. Their backgrounds fit well into the interdisciplinary profile of the project. Read more about them and the project here (in Norwegian) .