Category Archives: Planet

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.

Cool French accent: Who visited Svalbard to ‘prepare’ for climate summit – and who might actually talk about trip in Paris

They came. They saw. Most have said very little about about it since.

Plenty of people, including top world leaders, made the pilgrimage to Svalbard as part of their “preparations” for the UN climate summit in Paris beginning next Monday. But beyond those whose work focuses on Arctic climate change, any lessons learned haven’t been brought up much beyond the obligatory press conferences immediate afterward.

Fear failure: Terrorist attacks won’t alter regional scientists’ plans for UN climate summit in Paris


Three top officials at the Norwegian Polar Institute scheduled to attend the two-week climate summit in France starting Nov. 30 have no plans to cancel or alter their plans after last week’s terrorist attacks, according to Director Jan-Gunnar Winther.

Green with empathy: Month of events to raise money for rainforests ends with telethon, auction Sunday


Sure, you could go somewhere Sunday afternoon or stay home that evening. You’ll just risk having people think you’re in favor of destroying the Earth.

Host apocalyptic: Syria makes first withdrawal from Svalbard seed vault as war damages facility with key crops


Its creators hate the term “Doomsday Vault,” but for Syria that day has arrived.

A historic first “withdrawal” from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on behalf of Syria occurred during a visit Sunday by Norwegian and European Union leaders. A seed bank in the city of Aleppo is still partially operational despite the civil war that has heavily damaged the city, but can no longer function as a hub for providing seeds to other countries in the region.

Svalbard priest details efforts to save Palestinian villages from Israeli soliders in new book


The village relied on the same communal bread oven for 50 years until soldiers demolished it. They brought a new one so the residents weren’t deprived of one of their main food sources, but then destroyed that one as well. And the next.

Feast of support: Auction, cookout and ‘world’s most expensive waffles’ raise 300,000 kroner to help refugees


Perhaps it’s a bit contradictory for folks to be eating well to show their support for those facing dire plights, but they were also willing to pay very, very well to provide that help.

A trio of events in Longyearbyen during the past week raised about 300,000 kroner for the Norwegian Refugee Council’s efforts to assist those fleeing the civil war in Syria. Nearly all of it, about 289,000 kroner, was from a buffet and auction at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel where Mouawia Lababidi, a Syrian who’s been living in the Longyearbyen since 2010, presented an overview of the crisis in his homeland.

“I am dumbfounded by what you have achieved in such a short time,” wrote Linda Jeanette Gresslien, an NRC official, in a Facebook post following the event. “I can promise that the money that goes to NRC will be put to very good advantage.”

About 12,000 kroner was raised during a sale of “the world’s most expensive waffles” (100 kroner each) at Svalbardbutikken and another 3,000 during a “Food in Nature” beach party last weekend next to the Svalbard Sailing Club.

Green Party joins political opposites in proposing sending Syrian refugees to Svalbard despite numerous legal and practical issues


Locals seem willing to accept them. Two totally opposite political parties are suggesting sending them here (although the motives of one are questionable). But despite much of Europe increasingly slamming the door on the deluge of refugees fleeing Syria, housing them in Svalbard would be a nearly unworkable logical, legal and social challenge.

Seeds of recovery: Syria may make first ‘withdrawal’ from Svalbard vault as crops, seed sites devastated by war


In one small part of the world, doomsday has arrived.

The first “withdrawal” from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will likely be made by Syria, which has been engaged in a civil war since 2011. The country’s crops and a major gene research facility have been targeted by rebels, and the hope is to return the seeds to the facility after it is relocated.

Still standing fast: Svalbard priest grateful after helping save Palestinian village from destruction, but fear lingers


During a week when much of the world’s outrage was directed at the killing an 18-month-old Palestinian boy in an Israeli firebombing, another nearby West Bank village under constant threat was celebrating a reprieve – for now.