Norway. About 5 million people. Way too many online newspapers. Verdens Gang (VG) is one that I rarely visit because it’s basically just a compilation of annoyances. I know I’m stepping on a lot of sore toes now, but that’s my humble opinion. In spite of my opinion, however, it’s the most popular domestic site, according to Alexa. Boy, is my thumb not on the pulse of Norway1! Every now and then, though, I take my chances and head into the journalistic void that is VG in the hope that something might have changes since my last visit.
Unfortunately, it rarely does. When I went to the site just now I was greeted with an article with the heading “Ordered jacket - got poop", while their main story is that it’s more environmentally friendly to own an SUV than a German Shepherd. For some reason they have used a picture of a Belgian Tervuren to illustrate this point. And let’s not get started on the design of the site itself and the comments people post on the articles. Well, to be honest, the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory can be studied in detail on every single site on the internet that allows anonymous commenting, not just VG.
Anyway. I wasn’t going to ramble on about the fall of journalism or crappy web design, but rather an article I read on VG a few days ago when I ventured so innocently to the site.
The article was about a politician who gave the middle finger and a huge “fuck you” to the environmental movement and the science that says global warming is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which result from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation. To the picture of her tanking her 2003 Ford Expedition, politician Sylvi Listhaug laughs at what she calls “climate hysteria”. Sylvi is representing the Progress Party, which is currently in opposition.
In her opinion, which is partly the opinion of the Progress Party, there are no scientific proof that CO2 emissions are a contributing cause to global warming. It’s just “an excuse to introduce more taxes and fees”. When asked about her car and its fuel efficiency she responds that “the car is perfectly legal in the United States, where they also have environmental laws” and that more people should have a car like hers out of safety concerns: “Norwegian families are driving around in death traps because they can’t afford safe cars” (with reference to the tax levels on large cars, SUVs are taxed quite heavily).
A lot of sane arguments right there. Let’s pick them apart, one by one, shall we?
Fist and foremost, let’s talk about the taxes and fees you as a someone who live in Norway has to pay. Yes, we are pretty fucked when it comes to taxes and fees. And yes, some people leech off the system and should be punished medieval-style for that. But the bulk of us get a lot back from all the taxes we pay. Sylvi herself are getting a lot back right now as she’s in parental leave. Because of the taxes Sylvi and her fellow citizens have paid, she can stay home with her kid for a massive 46 weeks and still get 100% of the money she would have received from her employer. Or, if she prefers to stay home for 56 weeks - that’s more than a year - she’ll get 80% of her salary.
On to her 2003 Ford Explorer. With combined fuel efficiency of 14 MPG (source), this baby burns through juice like there is no tomorrow. Even though her car was perfectly legal when it was manufactured back in 2003, things are looking very different today. New SUVs that are sold in the US today need a minimum average of 24.1 MPG (source) - so it actually seems like the Americans care about fuel consumption as well, Sylvia. What gives!?
When it comes to her statement that there is no scientific proof that CO2 emissions are a contributing cause to global warming, this is an ongoing discussion among scientists and lobbyists around the world. But instead of bickering, let’s take a quick look at two graphs:
Both are fairly self explanatory, but let’s quickly have a look at them. The first graph shows the global mean land-ocean temperature change from 1880-2010, relative to the 1951-1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. The second graph is known as the “Keeling Curve” and it shows the long-term increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from 1958-2008. Monthly CO2 measurements display seasonal oscillations in an upward trend; each year’s maximum occurs during the Northern Hemisphere’s late spring, and declines during its growing season as plants remove some atmospheric CO2. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like there is some kind of correlation here.
But before we go, let’s, for the sake of the argument, say that the CO2 emissions does not cause global warming. In fact, global warming is just a conspiracy to sell more air conditioners. Still fossil fuels are, in all practical terms, a limited resource that we will one day run out of. If we don’t find a viable energy substitute before that happens, our civilization as we know it will implode on itself in the fight for the last drop of oil. That should be good enough reason to keep the current use as low as possible and to stay away from 2003 Ford Expeditions with under half the fuel efficiency of a modern family sedan.
I don’t want people like this run my country. That’s why I vote.
VG article: “Ler av klimahysteri".
Did I do that right? I’m not sure, but either way I managed to cram a Bill Hicks quote in there. ↩︎