Stars, screwballs on Paris stage: Climate kooks, transgender tribulation, roadside risktakers highlight Svalbard during climate summit


Since the academic speeches, presentations and other elitist academia that mention Svalbard will go on in Paris for another week, let’s just get to the juicy stuff.

The kooks as well as the knowledgeable and creative are chiming in about climate-related activities in the archipelago. So in addition to mortifying methane probes and transgender tunes about being part of the problem, seething skeptics are denouncing the happenings involving the UN climate summit.

“Senior foreign correspondent Mark Phillips (profiled) climatologists in Svalbard, Norway, as they chart ‘a worrying trend that’s happening now’ with trapped methane gas said to be now be leaking from the world’s frozen tundras into the atmosphere,” an article in NewsBusters (“exposing and combating liberal media bias”) notes. “Offering no sort of opposing viewpoint, Phillips touted a college student studying there who ruled that ‘[w]hat the climate change debate needs, she feels, is more science’ and ‘[a] solid argument’ to rebut ‘the uncertainties’ of ‘climate change deniers.'”

If the article isn’t sweet music to the ears – although it clearly is to the scores of skeptical commenters – there’s the new song “4 Degrees” by Norwegian singer Anohni (previously Anthony) Hegarty, based on her trip to Svalbard and released in conjunction with the Paris climate summit.

“I’m tired of crying for humanity and seeming at the same time that I was not completely honest when I pretended I myself an not part of the problem,” she wrote in a statement. “‘4 Degrees’ is a kind of brutal attempt to make myself responsible, not only evaluating my intentions, but also considering the real consequences of my actions.”

The song, according to Dagsavisen, “is a big, dark and gloomy description of the impact of future climate change, from a ‘rush on, there are only four degrees’ perspective.”

Also weighing in on their experience in Svalbard during the summit’s first days – although they “did not give up the song” – were three young “climate ambassadors” from Gers, France, who testified before a panel and met with French President François Hollande to report their glacier observations last October, according to La Depeche.

“Since we already have gone beyond our past course, give us a future course,” they wrote in a letter outlining their suggested actions for the summit.

The report by Phillips on CBS focused on how “the other growing threat to the environment is the Earth itself. A spectacular amount of methane, one of the worst heat trapping gases, has been locked up in the world’s frozen tundra – until now.” While participants and protesters in Paris were worrying about the terrorist attacks a couple weeks before the gathering, a banner displayed throughout the TV network’s five-minute report let viewers know the two researchers working a short distance from the road in Adventdalen “face danger near the Arctic.”

Among the other tidbits presented at the summit itself were slides from the American Geophysical Union showing how some of Svalbard’s glaciers are being affected by climate change. The organization’s blog has posted more than 500 reports about glaciers in the archipelago and elsewhere.

Svalbard will get its biggest exposure Saturday when four teenagers and a lead researcher at the Norwegian Polar Institute discuss sea ice studies and other activities they participated in earlier this year during a “side event” featuring most of the summit’s highest-ranking officials.