The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 3: No Postcard Available
The ski trailed beckoned and we obliged, the forest in white was a soft sell. Tuesday gave Meghan and I a chance for a mid-day ski in the sun, I think that qualifies as a “date.” A raptor glided across the trail, I got a look but just not good enough. I suspect it was either Accipiter nisus or Falco rusticolus, but I can only suspect. Again, the hawks and falcons of Norway elude me.
New birds: zero
No Postcard Available
“How about just not driving today?” I guess in Oslo that can be a real question for the commuting public, I can’t imagine that passive-aggressive line having much effect in Denver or Los Angeles. But therein lies the stereotypical difference between American and Norwegian culture. America: look out for number one; Norway: look out for each other.
Norway is a postcard perfect country, almost all the time. But the last months there have been days in the largest two cities that will never make a postcard save some insufferable hipster store that specializing in irony. There have been bad air days in Bergen and Oslo.
Last the week Aftenposten ran a page two story on suggestions for doing your part to reduce the bad air “dårlig luft” in Oslo. My comments in italics are the interpretation.
1. Let your car sit really why not? are you that important? no, didn’t think so.
2. Don’t use spiked tires (responsible for 12% of pollution in Oslo) get regular snow tires like everybody else, they’re good enough, shees!
3. Don’t burn wood of course you like to burn wood, but how about try candles for a while.
4. Carpool you know you should be doing this anyway. now’s your chance to ask that quiet man down at the end of the street, you work in the same building for pete’s sakes.
5. Walk or bicycle think of the free exercise, everybody’s doing it.
6. Avoid rush hour it wouldn’t be too hard to do now would it.
7. Work from home you know you want to, here’s your in.
8. Take public transportation as if this even needs to be said, it’s a shame you don’t.
9. Burn dry wood cripes, if you just have to burn at least get some good dry oak.
10. Spend some time in the woods just please don’t drive there by yourself, that would defeat the purpose, goodness sakes.
Maybe the air isn’t too bad where you live, but these are some nice suggestions anyways.
Why the bad air in paradise? Like anywhere, modern living plus a little geography is to blame. The geography can’t be change. The mountains and valleys are perfect winter hosts for inversions that trap air at group level. That is not the problem per se, but when combined with hydrocarbon emissions, exhaust, construction dust…you get the idea.
The prevalence of diesel passenger vehicles is a surprise to American visitors. The evidence that those clean engines are actually dirty is a bitter pill for so many who bought those cars because they were supposed to make a positive difference.
Bergen and Oslo also have ship traffic. Massive ocean going vessels idling away at port are monsters for air pollution and barely regulated in comparison with land-based exhaust systems. Long Beach developed a clever “plug-in” system for running ships while docked – check it out.
Air pollution kills people, it demonstrably kills more Americans than fanatics could ever dream of. America has come a long way in reducing air pollution, thankyou Clean Air Act and EPA. Between 1900 and 2000, air pollution was reduced 97% in America. Wow! Still, 44% of Americans live where the air is often dangerous to breath (State of the Air, 2015). A 2013 MIT study held that air pollution led to the early deaths of 200,000 Americans, that always unnerves me.
I will be in Bergen for the coming week. No inversions are forecasted, just rain and wind. Something else for which there is no postcard available.
Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.