Nordjyske is a Danish newspaper and prints every week an opinion piece via a “relay” where one author reccommends another, etc. I was invited and this below is a translation of what I wrote there, with links added. Here the original article if you read Danish.


A couple of weeks ago

I was chairing a session about climate change at the Havforskermøde, a scientific conference that was organized by Prof. Niels Madsen and others at our premises in Aalborg university 1.

It was a very mixed session, that is different from the more specialized ones (on LCA) that I usually attend, but it was a very touching one – I am going to explain a bit why.

There was a presentation where a researcher showed how much the sea level rise is already erasing coastal area in Denmark, and how much of coastal area will be lost, erased, and transformed in the next 100 years. Some popular Danish beaches will disappear completely, some unique Danish coastal ecosystems will also disappear. 100 years, it’s not a log time when you must make decisions about which coast areas to protect and preserve, and which to lose, and then build infrastructure like dams for this protection.

Another researcher showed clearly how huge, colossal amounts of water are warming up in areas of the arctic, at an alarming speed. What is particularly impressive is the size of these water masses, which is massive. Imagine how much heat you need to warm the entire sea between Iceland and Greenland.

I have also seen another researcher giving a more “exotic” presentation about sea turtles in Australia. Sea turtles are amphibians, and their sex at birth is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are conserved under the sand. When the sand where they nest gets warmer, because of warming climate, more female turtles are born. The researchers were fining imbalances so serious that some populations of turtles had more than 90% female individuals. There are hardly any males left in these turtle population. Researchers were able to prove that these imbalances had been going on for the last thirty years, and getting more and more pronounced, and to correlate very well these changes in the sex ratios with data about warming climate.

And then another researcher reporting a series of first-hand witnesses of fishermen in Greenland who told the scientists how the sea is changing in front of their own eyes. In their lifetime, fish species that used to be there are not there anymore, or have moved north, and new species have arrived that are typical or warm waters and were never or rarely seen before. This makes fishing much more challenging and sometimes impossible and affects severely the livelihoods of the Greenlandic fishermen and their families.

And finally there were presentations by my close colleagues about how the fishery itself contributes with CO2 emissions to the changing climate. The harder it is to find fish, the more fuels consumed, the more carbon is emitted, the more climate changes, the more difficult it is to fish…it’s a vicious cycle.

One presentation after the other showed the dramatic impact that human-driven climate change is already having on our society and on the ecosystem.

There are people

like me and you behind these studies that every day are confronted with the harsh reality of how much our climate is changing and how devastating the effects are already being and how more devastating they will be.

I can imagine them sitting in their offices, in front of the computer, plotting the data for the first time, looking at these graphs and trends, the hard evidence. The inevitability. What do they do when they see these data? Do they cry? Bang their head on the desk? Or are they just used to it, indifferent as a self-defense mechanism? There is a sort of weird resignation in their eyes when you ask them…so what now? in the corridor after the session. They shrug their shoulders in a gesture of impotence…like they have lost something very precious, irreversibly.

It is usually at this point that any written piece about climate change ends with a message of hope. Because we don’t have to scare you too much dear reader. Because…doomism. We can still make it, you know…probably. But let’s be honest, this is less likely every day that passes. Climate change is already here, it’s not in 100 years as you are maybe imagining. The situation is serious, for real. This is no joke.

So please take a moment

to inform yourself about how your actions contribute to climate change. Leave your car at home, walk, take the bike, take the bus or train. But please no, don’t take that Aalborg-Copenhagen plane. Save as much energy as you can. Insulate your house, electrify. Eat much less meat and diary. Don’t buy so much stuff that you don’t actually need, just because it’s cheap, but learn how products are made and where they come from.

And since yes, of course this is not just an individual responsibility, demand some systemic change. Demand a serious environmental commitment from your favorite political party, your municipality, your neighborhood, whatever they are, demand a green agenda. Vote.

There is a lot you can do, everything counts. Indifference, instead, will only bring more coast to disappear, more warm water in the arctic, more female turtles, more sense of we lost it all.


  1. The full program is here, look at Session 9 of August 17th for details on the presentation titles and presenters.