Norway, a European country situated near the Arctic Ocean, spreads over approximately 304,282 square kilometers of land and 19,520 square kilometers of water. When assessed at a national level, Norway seems particularly resilient to the effects of climate change. Because of this the Norwegian society was not incredibly worried about what would happen to their country. But with a closer look on the regional and local levels Norway becomes more vulnerable, creating more worry within society (O’Brien, Synga & Haugen, 2004).
In a New York Times article, Elisabeth Rosenthal explains that Norway is the third largest exporter in the world, proving that Norway is not very environmentally friendly (Rosenthal, 2008). Because Norway is such a big exporter, it leaves the country especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Compared to other countries, Norway has been affected by climate change more than the others. Norway is affected most because of the increase in greenhouse gasses being emitted into the atmosphere (Øseth, 2011). Since the 1990’s the emission of greenhouse gasses from cars has gone up by 33% whereas the emissions from oil and gas companies has grown by 83% (“Norway’s Climate”, 2017).
Being near the Arctic causes Norway’s temperature to abundantly depend on heat transferred by the North Atlantic Ocean Current (O’Brien, Synga & Haugen, 2004). In a report done by Ellen Øseth, the North Atlantic Ocean Current is explained as an extension of the Gulf Stream that allows ocean areas around Norway to have higher temperatures (Øseth, 2011). The heat is transported by North Atlantic Deep Water which has been decreasing in the past few decades. This causes instability in the temperature in Norway. Although the decrease in transported heat would cause Norway to cool, the mean temperature has been increasing which has created a warmer and wetter climate throughout the country (O’Brien, Synga & Haugen, 2004). During the last century, the temperature in the high northern latitudes has been increasing by 0.1°C per year (Øseth, 2011).
Due to rises in temperatures throughout the country, glaciers and ice sheets off the coast of Norway have been decreasing in volume since the 1960’s. Although Norwegians do not see their coast as susceptible to climate change and rises in sea level (O’Brien, Sygna & Haugen, 2004), the evidence has already shown otherwise. Climate Change is affecting the coast of Norway because with the ice glaciers melting, the volume of water in the sea increases and the sea level rises as well (“Norway’s Climate”, 2017). Because so many species are dependent on sea ice, the melting of it can lead to less biodiversity in the oceans. With the loss of sea ice the temperature of the seawater is rising which as well has caused changes in the ecosystems. The rise in temperature allows species that prefer warmer water to migrate into Norway’s seas, competing with the species that already populate that area (Øseth, 2011).
The rise in sea level poses a conflict for the roads and buildings throughout Norway. With higher temperatures and melting of sea ice, flooding is more likely to occur and because Norway does not have an adequate drainage system roads and buildings will be affected (Øseth, 2011). With flooding, it is more likely that the infrastructures will fail (O’Brien, Sygna & Haugen, 2004). Failing infrastructures will also require Norway to invest more money into creating a way to avoid damage to their infrastructures (Øseth, 2011). Norway already invests around 4 billion Norwegian Krones, approximately 510,500,000 US dollars, into repairing damages done to buildings because of climate change, and with the increase in flooding that price is expected to rise (O’Brien, Sygna & Haugen, 2004).
Another problem Norway faces in regard to climate change is the expected impact it will have on plants and animals. Because the volume of the sea ice is decreasing, polar bears and seals are in danger of losing their habitat as well as becoming extinct. With the increasing mean temperature, it is predicted that what is now the tundra, will become a forest. The increase in forestry in Norway along with the increase in temperature will make the forests more susceptible to forest fires. Another effect climate change has on the environment is the invitation to foreign species to invade current ecosystems (“Norway’s Climate”, 2017). Higher temperatures will also cause current species to migrate northwards in search of cooler temperatures, decreasing the availability of food and suitable habitats (Øseth, 2011).
Norway has proposed a mitigation strategy that would leave them carbon neutral, emitting no greenhouse gasses, by the year 2030 (Rosenthal, 2008). Although this strategy sounds clear, it will require society to make a lot of changes to their everyday lifestyles. Because the greenhouse gas emissions are so high in Norway, it is important to make changes to reduce the amount emitted. For this to be done, the Norwegian government needs to create stricter environmental laws for factories to abide by. While those advances will make a difference, society will have to do a lot themselves. There are many changes people can make in helping Norway reach its goal. For example, planting more plants can help increase the quality of the air as well as driving and flying less frequently (O’Brien, Sygna & Haugen, 2004).
Before learning about Norway’s vulnerability toward climate change, Norwegians did not take the issue seriously. As studies were done Norwegians became more aware of the pressing issues the country was facing (O’Brien, Sygna & Haugen, 2004). Since then the country has begun creating a mitigation strategy to reduce the effects and make Norway a safer place for its environment and its society.
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